After watching the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race twice, I am still not sure I understand what happened and judging from all the social media activity I am not alone.
The most popular driver in NASCAR racing, Dale Earnhardt Jr., did not like it.
“Gimmicks and all that stuff, trying to trick up the race is going down the wrong path,” Earnhardt said. “The way to make the racing exciting is to make the cars exciting.”
The All-Star race, featuring the best that NASCAR has to offer, had turned into a boring event. The last four All-Star races had not had a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps. Brad Keselowski got much of the credit for the new format that was presented on May 21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I think our fans deserve a better format than that and they got it,” Keselowski said. “I don’t know how you can get more compelling racing.”
The former Cup champion seemed to feel it was a success.
“They (those fans, broadcasters, crews and officials) need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing,” said Keselowski who had finished second to his teammate Joey Logano. The win was worth $1 million.
I do have to admit there was passing but that did not take away from the confusion. Of course it did not help that things were being rushed along as NASCAR squeezed two days of racing into a compacted schedule of events because of rain.
The battle between Logano and Kyle Larson in the closing laps made for some exciting racing. Larson ended up scraping the wall and finishing 16th while Logano went on to victory.
In the good news department for drivers like Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and others that were not around at the finish, the race did not count in the point battle and has no impact on who will end up making the Chase for the championship, the final ten races of the season.
In their zeal to create exciting racing NASCAR just may have gone overboard and brought too much confusion and too much in the way of gimmicks to the event.
All the racers were required to make a two-tire (at least) pit stop under the green in the second 50-lapper. Chase Elliott, in trying to get to the pits, slowed down and that caused Kenseth and Stewart to get caught up in an accident that put them out of the event.
“They got everybody together, a lap down, the lead lap, a lap down. It’s the most screwed up All-Star race I’ve ever been part of. I’m glad this is the last one,” said Stewart after visiting the infield medical center. Stewart is retiring as a NASCAR driver this year and gave the command to start the race from his race car.
Stewart, who is known for saying what he has on his mind, was fined recently for comments about the way NASCAR was handling the lug nut situation and many are surprised he was not penalized again for this outburst.
Most of the drivers involved in the event had the same thoughts that the race was confusing.
Quite frankly it just seemed to come off as if none of the officials understood it. When it took 10 minutes to explain the race procedure in the pre-race drivers meeting that was an indication that all would not run smoothly.
However if the success was based on racers passing racers during the three segments I think it would have to be considered a success.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity racers will be featured at Pocono Raceway this weekend, June 3-5 with an ARCA race thrown in. ARCA races on Friday; Xfinity (a first time event at Pocono) takes place on Saturday and on Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup racers go 400-miles on the Tricky Triangle.
* * *House of Representatives’ Motorsports Caucus Co-Chairmen Reps. John Payne (R-Dauphin) and Pat Harkins (D-Erie) invite Pennsylvania families and racing enthusiasts to attend the annual NASCAR Hauler Open House and Parade in Harrisburg on Thursday, June 2, starting at 10 a.m.
Each year, the Motorsports Caucus works together with Pocono Raceway, Triad Strategies and the City of Harrisburg to bring this event to the capital city as a way to recognize the racing industry and the economic impact it has on the Commonwealth.
“Pennsylvania is home to a huge NASCAR fan base and two Sprint Cup Series races. The Commonwealth also has benefited economically from investments made by corporate sponsors,” Payne said. “We had great turnouts for the hauler parade in the past and I hope this year will be no different, as we celebrate the motorsports industry’s considerable impact on Pennsylvania.”
The free event will begin with an open house at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex at 10 a.m., where fans will have the opportunity to walk through the trucks, take photos and interact with the hauler drivers. Prior to the parade, members of the Pennsylvania Motorsports Caucus will join Brandon Igdalsky, president and CEO of Pocono Raceway, to recognize Motorsports Day and NASCAR Fan Appreciation Day.
The parade will start at 11:30 a.m. from the Farm Show Complex. The route will include Commonwealth Avenue, Walnut Street and Third Street. Police will have the streets blocked off for fans to line up for the parade. The parade will roll by the back of the State Capitol Complex and on to Pocono Raceway, where the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 will be held June 3-5.
“I am excited and enthused to be involved in the NASCAR Hauler Parade,” Harkins said. “The race is being held at a great entertainment venue and will have a significant economic impact on the state.”
Surprising to this writer is the lack of attention by the Caucus to the large number of weekly racing facilities in Pennsylvania that have thousands of fans turning out at their events, patronizing many businesses and of course generating tax revenues for the State of Pennsylvania.
I remember at one time there was a day dedicated to all auto racing facilities in Harrisburg.
And ask the folks at Pocono how you can enter their Nathan’s hot dog eating contest. It has turned into an annual fun event.