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Hot/Not: Would eliminations help NASCAR’s all-star night?

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An exhibition weekend in Charlotte doesn't mean Hot/Not is taking the week off. Let's jump into the weekend's hits and misses:

Not: We can all agree that NASCAR's All-Star race format could use a tweak, right?

Saturday night was a mildly entertaining race. If I had been in the stands, a beeline to the ticket office demanding a refund wouldn't have crossed my. But this race has been so hyped, so overly promoted that it needs to produce the excitement, punches and otherwise "Oh no he DIDN'T!" reaction from fans.

First, it's silly beyond words that NASCAR's probation of Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick covers an exhibition race. There is no better time for any foes to settle a feud than a night like Saturday's in Charlotte — especially when NASCAR's TV partners run commercial after commercial as if that could happen.

The failure to communicate marketing strategy between the two is maddening and counter-intuitive. It's either one way or the other. Period.

As for the race format, I get why the 50-lap first segment exists. It provides some semblance of normal racing and mandates crews perform a high-tension green-flag pit stop. But it's not needed.

Scrap the 50-lap segment (that, to my recollection, has gone virtually caution- and drama-free for a few years) and scrap the idea that the All-Star race should be at all normal. The All-Star event should be gimmicky, manufactured and otherwise crazy.

A full or partial inversion of the field for the final segment was used years ago, once via a huge dice roll and other times via fan vote. I like that idea, and think putting the faster cars in the back of the pack to start a final 15-lap segment would do everything fans want in the race.

But I'd also add this: After each segment, the last three drivers in the running order (running or not) get the boot. By the fourth segment (in a 21-car field like Saturday night) 12 cars would remain. This makes the first three segments intriguing both in the front of the field and in the back.

From there, involve the fans via a text message or online vote to re-install one of the eliminated nine drivers to the final segment while inverting a portion of the field. Craziness would ensue, drama would unfold and the All-Star race would revert to being that once-a-year race everyone wants.

Hot: Speaking of Mr. Carl Edwards, there's no one hotter in NASCAR at this point. Edwards holds a steady lead in the Sprint Cup point standings and isn't showing any signs of slowing down. I'll give any non-believers some concessions ("It's early" or "Wait until the Chase"), but Edwards is looking like the guy who will challenge Jimmie Johnson come November. {ysp:more}

Not: Just as televised player introductions in the Super Bowl are fun for all of 30 seconds, NASCAR really ought to re-think the length of the All-Star Race's team introductions.

The idea is a neat one and I'm positive it stirs some emotion to those at the track, but the presentation on TV just loses its pace quickly. Figure out a way to speed them up while forcing the teams and drivers to do more than slowly amble across the stage and we might have a solution to the nap-inducing festivities from Saturday night.

Hot: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. deserves some much-needed praise for finally getting a win in the Nationwide Series and becoming the first non-Cup driver to win in the series this season when he took the checkered flag Sunday at Iowa Speedway. Stenhouse, in a Roush-Fenway car, passed Edwards with 17 to go to take his first series win in 51 starts.

What's more is that Stenhouse bounced back from a weekend at Iowa last season in which he wrecked his primary and backup cars before the race and was forced to borrow Edwards' backup car for the race. There aren't many weekends worse than that for rookies in NASCAR.

Not: The teamwork between Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon fell through when Johnson — presumably mistakenly — cut too close to Gordon's pit stall during the final pit stop in Saturday night's race. Gordon tweeted Monday that Johnson clipped Gordon's tire carrier, causing the No. 24's pit stop to go awry.

A decent car most of the night, Gordon lost all hope when he emerged from pit road nine or 10 spots down the running order. In the final 10 laps, Gordon went nowhere and finished 15th.

Hot: Let's give some praise to NASCAR's safety initiative one more time. Landon Cassill's crash with Derrike Cope in the Sprint Showdown was simply remarkable in that Cassill walked away.

Cope had nowhere to go when Cassill's machine slid up the track after blowing a tire and T-boned Cassill just behind the driver's door. SPEED's slow-motion replay visibly showed Cassill's hand bouncing from the steering wheel and into the window.

Hot: More credit where credit is due as we wrap up this week's Hot/Not is deserved to the folks at Charlotte Motor Speedway for two things: a tremendous crowd for the All-Star Race and a tremendous addition to the track's facilities.

The new video board along the backstretch — the world's largest, as you know — should be a terrific asset to keep a new-era of fans who are consistently engaged electronically interested in the show at CMS. Plus, it's really doggone cool.

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