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Logano Wins ‘Screwed Up’ All-Star Race

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 22 2016
The scene in Victory Lane was almost as chaotic as the racing itself was during Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

The scene in Victory Lane was almost as chaotic as the racing itself was during Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Rusty Jarrett )

CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR’s Sprint All-Star race Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which was won by Joey Logano, left drivers both pleased and confused.   

They praised NASCAR’s rules package that removed more downforce from the cars, but deemed the sprint-logo-08non-points event’s new format as too confusing.

“It’s the most screwed up All-Star race I’ve ever been a part of. I’m glad this is my last one,” an angry Tony Stewart said after becoming involved in a second segment multi-car crash that eliminated him from the event.

Under the new format, there were two 50-lap segments and then a 13-lap segment. A green flag pit stop was required during each 50-lap segment and another stop was mandatory during the caution periods between the segments. At least two tires had to be changed on each pit stop during the first two segments and the caution period between the first and second segment. During the caution period between the second and third segment, the first 11 cars had to make a four-tire stop.

The confusion began near the end of the first segment when everyone but leader Matt Kenseth had fulfilled the green-flag pit stop requirement. With only three laps left in the first segment, a yellow flag waved for Jamie McMurray’s spin. At that time, Kenseth had the field a lap down, but NASCAR penalized him a lap for not making a green-flag stop during the first segment. The result was mass confusion among the teams as to who was on the lead lap.

“We ran into a situation where our race procedures didn’t give us the opportunity for a wave around and it created a lot of confusion,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition. “It’s something we have to look at if we continue on with this format. You have to expect certain circumstances are going to happen in this type of race. We had one crop up tonight that maybe we could have been more ready for and we weren’t. It was a very unique situation and we did not in our race procedures have a mechanism to correct that.”

Second-place finisher Brad Keselowski, who had been credited with the format, didn’t see a problem with it overall despite the confusion in the first two segments.

“I don’t know how you can get much more compelling racing than what we saw today, so they need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing,” Keselowski said. “I mean there was a last or next to last-lap pass for the lead. There were several passes for the lead. The last four races there hasn’t been a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps. I think our fans deserve a better format than that and they got that today.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third, disagreed.

“I was pretty confused right up until it was 13 laps to go and then I knew, well, we’re racing from here to the end and this is all the normal rules,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “But everything before that … I was out of my element. I think that the intent was really positive and the ideas were great, but I think the simpler we make it, the easier it is to follow.”

Earnhardt Jr. believes there should be a return to the original formats that were simpler and the focus should be on making the cars race better. Both Earnhardt Jr. and winner Logano believed the car rules package NASCAR implemented for the non-points event was good.

“ I think that taking the skew out of the housing and limiting the toe and doing things like that will certainly slow down the mid-corner speed a little bit and there will be a little bit more off-throttle time,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I think that any time we can get more off-throttle time, there will be more opportunities to out-drive a guy into a corner, beat a guy into the corner or drive up to a guy’s bumper to get him loose or move him out of the way or however you need to do it.  

“You know, you saw the 22 (Logano), he could get right up to that 42 (Kyle Larson).  Man, if we were running the ’14 or ’15 package, the 42 could have went wherever the 22 was going and kept him about 10-car lengths behind him the whole time.  He didn’t ever have to worry about it. So the fact that the 22 can drive up there right to him and the 42 can’t do anything about it, we’re going down the right direction with all that stuff.”

Logano, who with teammate Keselowski, made Team Penske the first-ever organization to finish 1-2 in the All-Star race, said he thought the racing was “significantly better” than last year. He said all one could do last year was run the bottom of the track.

It was a lot of fun as a driver tonight to be able to move up the race track and find speed,” Logano said after claiming his first All-Star victory. “That’s something here at Charlotte at night is very rare. I think, obviously, taking the downforce off these cars, being able to move to the right side of a car and being able to continue forward progress was really nice. I thought it promoted a lot of side-by-side racing, a lot of passing.  It seemed like it took a couple … six, seven laps for the second lane to kind of come in after tires would wear a little bit, but tires would definitely wear out.  There was definitely a lot of fall-off, it felt like, from inside the car and that’s what we want to see.”

Miller said parts of the rules package used in the Sprint All-Star race were included in next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 package with the only difference being the rear-end alignment.

“We did that on purpose,” Miller said, “so we would have a data point this week versus next week to put into the data base for moving forward.”

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Saturday, May 21, 2016

  1. (8) Joey Logano, Ford, 113.
  2. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 113.
  3. (10) Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Chevrolet, 113.
  4. (4) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 113.
  5. (3) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 113.
  6. (7) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 113.
  7. (15) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 113.
  8. (20) Greg Biffle, Ford, 113.
  9. (12) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 113.
  10. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 113.
  11. (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 113.
  12. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 113.
  13. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 113.
  14. (9) Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota, 113.
  15. (19) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 113.
  16. (18) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, Accident, 111.
  17. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 110.
  18. (11) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, Accident, 71.
  19. (16) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 71.
  20. (17) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Accident, 70.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  98.103 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 43 Mins, 40 Secs. Margin of Victory:  1.142 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  4 for 18 laps.

Lead Changes:  13 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Harvick 0; Kyle Busch 1-4; K. Harvick 5-25; Kyle Busch 26-34; J. Logano 35-44; C. Edwards 45; M. Kenseth 46-49; C. Edwards 50; B. Keselowski 51-80; Kyle Busch 81-82; C. Edwards 83-84; B. Keselowski 85-93; K. Larson 94-111; J. Logano 112-113.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Keselowski 2 times for 39 laps; K. Harvick 1 time for 21 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 18 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 15 laps; J. Logano 2 times for 12 laps; C. Edwards 3 times for 4 laps; M. Kenseth 1 time for 4 laps.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, May 22 2016
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