From The Marbles

Happy Hour: Your suggestions for the All-Star Race

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to happyhourmailbag@yahoo.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. Right? Oh who are we kidding, this is NASCAR. No one is ever happy.

Saturday's All-Star race was the most popular (non-NRA division) topic in my email inbox this week. Let's start with the format suggestions first.

After last night's snoozefest of an All Star Race, I decided to try and fix it with a new format. I know the race is suppose to be no points, no pressure, just pure fun but why not make each segment be worth a few points. It would put an emphasis on winning a race during the calendar year to be automatically locked into the event and it would make the showdown even more important to get one of those top two spots.

Showdown- Top 2 Advance. No Fan Vote
All Star Race:
- Segments 1-4 would be 20 laps long with 2 bonus points awarded to the winner.
- Average finish will dictate pitting order of Segment 5 (any strategies go)
- Final Segment- 10-15 laps to decide the finish with a million dollars and 5 bonus points.
- The bonus points are not for the CHASE just the drivers current total.
Just a thought.
- Jack.

Nick -- OK, here's my proposal for the All Star Race.

Four heats, 10 drivers each, so everyone in the top 40 in the standings gets a chance to race in. Maybe it will keep the S&Ps interested a few laps more each race.

Top four from each heat makes the final, with all 12 drivers currently eligible for the Chase also seeded. This year that would have been Johnson, Edwards, Kenseth, Junior, Bowyer, Kahne, Keslowski, Kyle, Armirola, Harvick, PFM and Gordon. Any of those drivers who don't finish in the top four in their heat still make the field, so it can be larger than 16 cars if necessary.

Then: Fifty lap final. Spin a wheel to invert the start. Maybe the Most Popular Driver can do those honors. Yellow flag laps don't count. No pitting under yellow, except to repair damage. Which means a team can replace a blown tire, but not change all four.
This means each team must make one green-flag stop at any time they choose. So there's some fuel and tire strategy, too.

Finally: Hold it at Rockingham.
-Randy

Nick,
As a casual fan of NASCAR, I have enjoyed both the racing as well as the commentaries posted by you and by others.

One thing that just might make the all star race a lot less boring is a required staggered 4 tire change pit stop, Make the final segment something like 30 to 35 laps. After about 5 laps, cars will be required to come to pit road, one car per lap. This could be based on average place after the first 4 segments, or a random draw.

Just like in qualifying, there would be no pit road speed limit. Each team could have their own pit, or they could all be required to use the same pit, possibly in the center of pit road for better viewing by the fans.

Such an arrangement would mean that the field would get spread out from lap 5 thru lap 25 or so, then all the cars would be on the same basis for the sprint to the finish.
This would make all but the first few laps a whole lot more entertaining for everyone.
-Al

I like the idea of not making the final pit stop mandatory, and I like the idea of heat races. What would be wrong with two heats of 11 and two heats of 10 (42 cars were entered in the race) seeded based on current points standings and then we go from there? More than likely the top teams would still make the finals, but we'd have the potential for an upset or two. Or, if we wanted to keep the current qualifying format, then all 42 cars could participate in the three lap plus pit stop process and the field could be seeded into heats based off of that.

However, I'm not sure about getting points involved with the All-Star Race. We've seen how stupid it is that the MLB All-Star Game determines homefield advantage in the World Series. But because NASCAR drivers are racing against each other every week, there's no real comparison to another league. Thoughts on that?

_____________________

I find it truly amusing that such a fuss has been made about Danica Patrick being voted into the All Star race. The fan vote was not implemented to get her into the race, it was to get Jr. into the race. During the years that Jr. was running middle of the pack and not finishing much higher on average than Danica, he needed the fan vote to make the race. He had better equipment than she does and had way more experience in a stock car than she does, yet nobody seemed to care then that there were more deserving drivers, only that Jr. was in the race. Now the "true" NASCAR fans are beside themselves, what a crock. I am not a Jr. hater, just making a comparison that I think is accurate.
-Bruce

I hate to burst the conspiracy bubble (no, I don't), but the fan vote was implemented before Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a candidate for it. He won the All-Star Race in 2001, therefore he was eligible to be in the race for 10 years after that. That meant that Junior was only in the Showdown twice, and once he raced his way in.

_____________________

Brick - let's see... Option 1: NASCAR rigged the All Star Race and gave Jimmie Johnson a better position to start the final segment. Option 2: FOX showed a completely wrong avg finish ranking. Hmmm. Of course seeing as FOX had David Gilliland driving 7 different cars during the showdown - pretty much every car # EXCEPT the one he was actually in - it should be pretty obvious FOX's graphics dept didn't have a foxing clue what they were doing. So yeah, it was a NASCAR conspiracy. *eye roll*
Take off the tin-foil hat and step away from the keyboard!
- Slammin' Sam

I was still getting emails this week from people that were convinced Fox was right and that NASCAR was wrong. Seriously? NASCAR would rig that? Jimmie Johnson's average finish was 6.5 in the first four segments. How people think that would be possible for a driver to have that average finish and be outside of the top 10 is beyond me. But then again, there are a lot of things that don't make sense about the NASCAR conspiracy set, who are a vocal minority on both social media outlets and the comments below.

_____________________

How fast is too fast?

This is a question that NASCAR should seriously consider. With increased speed comes increased reliance on aerodynamics and with 8 out of the 11 races we have run this season seeing new track records set in qualifying. I think we are at a point where "clean air is king" has never been more true.

the pole speed for the 1985 Coke 600 was 160 mph, by 1995 it was 180 mph, by 2010 (with a much heavier COT) it was just under 190 mph, and I won't be surprised if a new record is set this week.

It wasn't that long ago that cars reaching 200 mph was unheard of outside of the 2 plate tracks. We are seeing that regularly on the intermediate tracks today.

Despite this increase in speed over the last 15 years. I don't know that many fans would say that the 2000's have produced the greatest on track product the sport has ever seen.

Am I in the minority among fans in thinking that slower cars could produce better racing?
-FuriousD

With the pole speed at Charlotte Friday night being yet another track record this year (that's number seven), this is a prescient email. What type of racing will we see Sunday night?

I think I'm in the camp that slower cars will produce better racing, if nothing else for the fact that the downforce is lessened at lower speeds. If you take away downforce from the cars, speeds will go down as a result too.

The Fox announcing booth was very excited over Thursday's track record, but do fans really care about how fast the qualifying speed is? Not really. They want to see good racing. And I'm not sure that these exceptionally high speeds are conducive to good racing.

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
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