The 2018 All-Star Race will feature aerodynamic rules changes similar to the changes NASCAR made for the Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis in 2017.
The Cup Series cars racing in the All-Star Race on May 19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will have restrictor plates on the engines, bigger spoilers, a different splitter on the bottom of the front bumper and aero ducts on the ends of the bumper.
The restrictor plates will cut down on the cars’ acceleration and possibly make a full-throttle lap around the 1.5-mile track possible. The aero ducts and higher splitters will punch a bigger hole in the air for trailing cars to create a bigger draft effect. Ideally, the bigger aerodynamic hole and restrictor plates will mean cars will be able to pass back-and-forth with relative ease.
Changes made at Indianapolis were considered a success. After a combined 10 lead changes in 2015 and 2016 and no race in the series’ history at the track with more than nine lead changes, last July’s race produced 16 lead changes and passing throughout the field.
It’s undeniable that the layout of Indianapolis played a role in the success of the changes. The 2.5-mile rectangular oval has two long straightaways where drafting-induced passes could gestate. Charlotte’s backstretch is less than half of the distance of Indianapolis’ straightaways and the frontstretch isn’t straight.
But hey, it’s worth a shot. The race could be incredibly great or a disaster would probably be entertaining as well. The racing quality of recent All-Star Races has been less than great and their entertainment quality has come from rules-related fiascos.
If the race doesn’t live up to the hype, we’re not sure what else can be done to make it entertaining other than moving it to a different venue. And let’s be honest, if NASCAR is having to cook up all of these aerodynamic changes in an attempt to spice up the race, a venue change is probably long overdue.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.