NASCAR is making some changes for the 2019 All-Star Race. But they aren’t anything like the rules changes the sanctioning body made for the 2018 race.
Specifications for cars in the 2019 race will be very similar to what they have been for points races this season. The changes come in the form of a different type of splitter and a different radiator duct.
Based on NASCAR’s press release announcing the changes, it’s reasonable to conclude the changes are being made to combat the scourge of dirty air that drivers have been complaining about throughout the first 25 percent of the season even as NASCAR executives continue to praise the rules changes the series has made so far.
The first is single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan that should offer dramatic improvements in ride height sensitivity for the drivers. This technical component will provide a more stable aero platform and create more consistent performance in traffic. Also, the car will be configured with a radiator duct which exits through the hood as opposed to the current design which exits into the engine compartment. This feature will create improved aerodynamic parity and, at the same time, reduce engine temperatures.
The rest of the low-horsepower and high-downforce changes remain in place. NASCAR cut horsepower and added downforce in 2019 after testing the idea during the 2018 All-Star Race in an attempt to keep cars closer together.
The 2018 All-Star Race, won by Kevin Harvick, provided an entertaining evening, though it’s hard not to wonder just how much of that entertainment was because of the novelty effect. The racing seen last season hasn’t been replicated in 2019. Maybe the seemingly subtle changes for the 2019 All-Star Race will have a dramatic effect and lessen the effects of turbulent air on trailing cars.
Race will be 5 laps longer
The final stage has been extended from 10 laps to 15 laps to make the All-Star Race an 85-lap affair. The race will once again consist of four stages. The first stage will be 30 laps long while the middle two stages will each be 20 laps. Caution flag laps won’t count toward the 15-lap total in the final stage.
No changes to All-Star Eligibility
The criteria for making the All-Star Race hasn’t changed. All drivers who won a race in 2018 and 2019 are eligible for the event along with all former Cup Series champions and All-Star Race winners who have been winless since the start of 2018.
Drivers who don’t meet those benchmarks will race in the qualifying race ahead of the All-Star Race. The 60-lap open race will be broken into three 20-lap stages and the winner of each stage will advance to the All-Star Race. A fourth driver who wins an online fan vote will also advance to the All-Star Race.
Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex Jr. are the drivers who are already qualified for the race.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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