NASCAR’s annual all-star race will be split into five segments this year, with a mandatory pit stop before the final 10-lap sprint for the $1 million prize.
The All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be 90 laps and begin with four 20-lap segments. The winner of each segment will move to the front of the field right before the cars head down pit road for their mandatory stop.
Drivers will then line up in the order they leave pit road to start the final segment.
“It’s sprint, quick races. Twenty-lap races will mean a lot more now if you can start up front or at least pit first for the final segment, which will mean everything,” said 2008 winner Kasey Kahne. “In 10 laps here, if you start anywhere out of the front two rows, you probably don’t have a shot at winning. To have the best shot at winning the All-Star Race, you’ll want to win one of those (segments).”
The new format is designed to place a premium on winning one of the first four segments, as well as showcase pit crews for the mandatory stop before the 10-lap shootout. Steve Addington, crew chief for Kurt Busch’s 2010 win, said teams will have to decide quickly what to do during the pit stop.
“The guys in that top five or six are going to be the ones with the pressure on them to decide if they want tires or not,” he said. “There’ll be a guy in eighth, ninth, 10th that’s going to gamble going for a million bucks, who will do a splash of fuel, a stop-and-go and get out and try to get clean air and get away from everyone else.”
There was little drama in last year’s race, with Carl Edwards winning three of the four segments what was then a 100-lap race. He went onto pit road as the leader for the mandatory pit stop, was the first car off pit road, and handily pulled away on the restart to lead all 10 laps of the final segment.