All eyes are now on this Saturday night's race under the lights — the Sprint All-Star Race.
For newer fans, here is a really quick synopsis of why this particular race is so special and so different. It’s actually pretty simple — no points, the winner makes a boatload of money and no one cares, nor even remembers, who finishes second.
As much as I like the changes they made last year, I think certain flaws in the format came out. Basically if you won an earlier segment, then you just rode around until the final 10-lap shootout. That has been addressed this year. Sure, we might find a hole in this new format, but I sure don’t see the possibility of one.
I love these new changes. One change for this year’s event is your average finish in the first four segments will determine how you enter pit road for the final pit stop before the final 10-lap segment for all the marbles. It’s also mandatory that you have to change four tires.
Then, of course, there is the huge incentive that track owner Bruton Smith has put up to the drivers in the Sprint All-Star Race. We all know that for the last few years, the winner of the race has won a cool $1 million.
Bruton has put a carrot out there that has taken things to another level. If a single driver can win all five segments Saturday night, Bruton will put up a bonus of an additional $1 million, bringing the winning purse to $2 million.
Just stop and think about the magnitude of that.
A driver, team and organization that could pull off winning all five segments Saturday night could literally walk out of Charlotte Motor Speedway with $2 million for a 100-lap race. That’s nothing short of phenomenal in our sport.
NASCAR has even addressed qualifying and made a slight adjustment there. Now there is no set speed entering or exiting pit road during the mandatory four-tire change in qualifying. That’s going to be huge as well come qualifying Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
This is a big, big weekend for the folks who work at SPEED. Everything that happens this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, whether it is connected to the Sprint All-Star Race Saturday evening or the Camping World Truck race on Friday evening will be on SPEED.
Obviously, with Charlotte being the hub of NASCAR racing, it’s the start of two consecutive weekends of racing for these teams at home. Speaking from experience of being fortunate as a crew chief to have won the all-star race in 1991 and 1992, there is a lot of pride that comes with winning this event.
You just can’t overlook the fact that track owner Bruton Smith, in working with the folks at Sprint, has taken things to a whole new level for the 2013 all-star race. You are going to see some very hungry and aggressive drivers when you wave the potential of $2 million in their face for a short night's work.