NASCAR’s All-Star Race has been a time-tested tradition in the NASCAR Cup Series for more than three decades, debuting as ‘The Winston’ in 1985. The exhibition event has featured a number of infamous moments that are rooted into the history of the sport.
So, has the NASCAR All-Star Race run its course after 37 seasons?
Even before the lackluster product and questionable decision-making in the closing laps of Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, the point of the race’s continuance looked to be non-existent, a metric that has been pushed further into the territory of ‘why bother?’.
Although a fairly subpar event, Sunday’s All-Star Race was reasonably watchable until the very end, when the caution flew as Ryan Blaney was about 10-feet from crossing the start-finish line, the beginning – but not the end — of a controversial shadow cast on the event.
NASCAR’s Scott Miller later admitted that the sanctioning body “probably prematurely called that yellow flag”, further stating that the race director “looked up,” and “immediately put it out.”
That same caution flag, however, caused an entirely new issue, as Blaney lowered his window net to celebrate his victory, only to find out that he hadn’t actually won the event.
You see, as part of the NASCAR All-Star Race, the sanctioning body implemented that the exhibition event must finish under green-flag conditions, meaning that the final-lap caution that would have ended any points-paying NASCAR event, instead triggered a NASCAR Overtime restart.
Initially, Miller chalked this up being “another bi-product of special rules of the All-Star Race,” one of many different regulations implemented only for this one-off non-points event.
However, it’s these one-off regulations and consistent year-after-year formatting changes that have put the sanctioning body in the vulnerable position of having to defend themselves to the general public, time after time.
In recent years, the formatting for the NASCAR All-Star Race has been consulted and unnecessarily complicated, with last season’s event requiring a pen, paper, and calculator to even sort out the starting lineup for the race’s final stage.
Even this year’s edition of the race had its confusing components, as the FOX broadcast continually boasted that the race’s final 50-lap segment would be run with only green flag laps counting when that wasn’t the case.
It’s these over-the-top formatting choices that will drive the casual viewers away from turning back into a NASCAR Cup Series broadcast on a regular basis, especially when the overall excitement level isn’t benefitted by these changes.
In a sport that has spent the last decade attempting to direct its attention to the casual viewer, with the implementation of things like stage racing and NASCAR Overtime, it seems counterintuitive to lose these fans over an event that provides nothing more than a $1-million prize.
While there may be some people that would argue the sole issue with the NASCAR All-Star Race in its current state is the venue, Texas Motor Speedway, the race itself has seemingly lost some of its sparkle over the last decade or so.
What once seemed like a prestigious purse of $1-million, has become somewhat stale in recent years, with the buying power associated with said seven-figure payout becoming less and less significant as time progresses.
Furthermore, the race’s large field has thwarted any kind of prestige that is associated with qualifying for the NASCAR All-Star Race, with this season’s edition of the event featuring 24 of the 36 chartered NASCAR Cup Series entries (67%).
At this point, if two-thirds of the weekly competitors at NASCAR’s top level are considered to be ‘All Star’ caliber, then what’s the point of having an event that celebrates them, when the event chalks up to another weekend with high attrition?
Now, if this event MUST stick around, make it shorter, less gimmicky, more exclusive, and not at Texas Motor Speedway, or else we’ll be running into a situation that will leave you asking ‘What are we even doing?’ like I’m sure you did at some point on Sunday.
I agree! This “Special” race needs to return to the”Home” of stock car racing. Charlotte N.C. Trying to bring tthis race to the level it once had, just does not work out side of N.C. Texas, just doesn’t work. The stands were half full. And stop doing crazy reboots, of the race rules. Have a qualifying race for the non winners. keep it at around 20-25 cars max. AND move it back to N.C.! The race needs to be run better. K.I.S.S. It’s that easy!