This year the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race has been revamped to create an atmosphere that will promote more competitive racing as the drivers battle for a $1 million prize.
The All-Star event will be held on May 21 at 9 p.m. ET at Charlotte Motor Speedway and consist of three segments for a total of 113 laps. Qualifying will be held prior to the race (three laps with pit stop) at 7:10 p.m. ET.
The final segment (13 laps) will feature a unique format that requires the leaders to pit before the last segment begins. None of the other drivers will be allowed to pit. The leaders will then line up behind the cars on the tracks that did not pit, setting up a dramatic dash to the checkered flag.
To make matters more intriguing, a random draw before the final segment will decide how many of the leaders must pit; nine, 10 or 11.
This year there will be two drivers added to the lineup by virtue of the Sprint Fan Vote. As of May 16, the top five up for consideration are, in alphabetical order, Ryan Blaney, Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick. Fans can cast their votes until 5 p.m. ET May 20.
As an added bonus, Tony Stewart, participating in his final full-time season, has been selected to get things started with the words every NASCAR fan anticipates, “Drivers, Start Your Engines.”
Sprint All-Star Race Format:
Segment 1(50 laps): The field will be determined by qualifying and includes a mandatory green flag pit stop for a minimum of two tires.
Break 1: After the first segment, there will be a break of 3-5 minutes with a mandatory pit stop with a minimum two-tire change.
Segment 2 (50 laps): The field will be set by the exit from pit road with one mandatory green flag pit stop a minimum two-tire change before lap 85.
Break 2: After the second segment, there will be a break of 3-5 minutes. This break will feature a random draw that will decide whether the top nine, 10 or 11 cars have to pit for a mandatory four-tire stop. Pit road will be closed for all other cars. The starting order for Segment 3 will be set by order of pit road exit and they will line up behind the cars that did not pit.
Segment 3 (13 laps): Only green flag laps will count in the final segment. NASCAR Overtime rules apply.
Sprint All-Star Race Eligibility:
The All-Star race will include a minimum of 20 cars. Fifteen drivers have already qualified, being 2015-2016 race winners or past All-Star winners. Three more drivers will advance from the Sprint Showdown race (May 20 at 7:15 p.m. ET) and two more drivers will be voted in by fans.
The 11 winners from 2015-2016 are Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. The four past All-Star winners are Kasey Kahne (2008), Jamie McMurray (2014), Ryan Newman (2002) and Tony Stewart (2009).
The Sprint Showdown is divided into three segments (20/20/10) and each segment winner will advance to the All-Star Race.
Segment 1 (20 laps): The field will be set by practice speed. The winner advances to the All-Star race and will not continue in the Showdown.
Segment 2 (20 laps): The field is set by pit-road exit order after a mandatory minimum two-tire pit stop. The winner advances to the All-Star race and will not continue in the Showdown.
Segment 3 (10 laps): The field is set by pit-road exit order after a mandatory minimum two-tire pit stop. NASCAR Overtime rules apply. The winner advances to the All-Star race.
Saturday’s event will be the 32nd All-Star Race and all but one (1986-Atlanta) have been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. There have been 21 different winners with Jimmie Johnson leading the series with four wins (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013).
The All-Star race has been underwhelming the last several years with few lead changes and sparse cautions. NASCAR is hopeful that the format changes will provide a spark that will showcase the top drivers and give the fans what they want; an edge of your seat, nail-biting, display of pure adrenalin-fueled racing.