This week the All Star race takes center stage on Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina. NASCAR’s very best racing side by side for $1 million dollars. Well don’t go grabbing your Dale Earnhardt, Jr. hats or your Kyle Busch t-shirts just yet. NASCAR’s All Star race could stand for more than just $1 million pay day.
If not for the million dollar prize this race means very little in the grand scheme of the season. In Major League Baseball, the winning league has home field advantage in the World Series. That’s right the biggest series of the MLB season and home field advantage is decided in the All Star game in July.
In NASCAR there is no real home field advantage even though all the teams are based in or around Charlotte. Yes, there are bragging rights to winning at Charlotte Motor Speedway but with no points rewarded drivers and teams have nothing to lose or gain.
With the new point system rewarding winners with almost automatic bids into the Chase, shouldn’t the All Star race winner get an automatic bid to the playoffs?
If we are going to say that winning means everything in today’s NASCAR then the All Star race should give the race winner the automatic Chase bid.
We have heard all season from drivers and crew chiefs that they would trade anything for a win. By making the All Star race far more valuable maybe that would eliminate the “test session” that this race has become for some teams.
David Ragan said this week, "It's an honor to be a part of NASCAR's All-Star race. This will be my fourth straight year in it, and it doesn't get old. We realize that it's a long shot for us to win the race, but that's what got us here, right? And it will definitely be a good event for us to learn for the Coca-Cola 600. With the rule changes this year, we're still working on getting our mile-and-a-half program dialed in, and Saturday night's race will help for next week.”
Maybe we wouldn’t see teams sandbagging through segments if a bid to the Chase was on the line. How about if a driver who has already won a points paying race in 2014 wins they get a one point bonus point in the Chase?
One point can mean whole lot when it comes to Homestead. $1 million should be a big enough incentive for these teams but dangle a Chase bid or a bonus point in front of them and you will see just how bad these teams really want it.
It is time to allow some strategy in this race. Forcing mandatory pit stops prior to the final restart doesn’t allow for any strategy a team might employ in the early stages of the race to play out.
Maybe a driver like Ragan who normally wouldn’t have a chance would stay out for track position and gamble for the win. With only 22 cars racing in the main event maybe a driver near the back comes in for tires to try and gain an advantage.
Let a team stay out if they want or take just fuel or even two tires. What has always made this race exciting was when teams would try something out of the box to go for the million dollar pay day.
The final segment should be 20 laps so if a guy does take tires allows them the opportunity to use that advantage.
NASCAR really doesn’t need contrived and gimmicky segments to ratchet up the excitement. We have seen some spectacular racing on the mile and half tracks this season. Let the product showcase itself and allow the drivers and teams to get it done.