No Fault In (Reviewing) the All-Star Races

Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled hard for the win in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte. (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow of TPF)

It’s that time of year again race fans!  Indeed, it’s time for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race! Tonight is one of the few times of the season where points mean nothing.  As a result, this race throws drivers into a new race format and requires the teams to adjust quickly to come out on top. Let’s take a look at the All-Star race through the years.

Darrell Waltrip celebrates his win and kaboom moment with team owner Junior Johnson in the 1985 All-Star Race.

Darrell Waltrip celebrates his win and kaboom moment with team owner Junior Johnson in the 1985 All-Star Race.

1985: The start of this exhibition race came in the 1985 season and was known as The Winston.

Who Could Race: The 12 race winners from the previous season.

Format: 70 laps with one required pit stop.

Held: The day before the Coca-Cola 600.

Bonus: $10,000 went to the leader of lap 20.

Winner: Darrell Waltrip

 

Bill Elliott scores a hometown All-Star Race win at Atlanta, the only time it was held outside of Charlotte.

Bill Elliott scores a hometown All-Star Race win at Atlanta, the only time it was held outside of Charlotte.

1986: The only year that the All-Star Race was held outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Who Could Race: Race winners from 1985. There were only nine (9) winners the previous season so the drivers with the most points but without a win was added to make the field an even 10 drivers. (Geoffery Bodine was the added driver)

Format: 83 laps with one required pit stop.

Held: Mother’s Day

Bonus: 100-lap consolation race for drivers not participating in The Winston and was won by Benny Parsons.

Winner: Bill Elliott

 

Excuse me, pardon me.

Excuse me, pardon me.

1987-1989: The Winston returned to Charlotte. This was also the introduction of the Winston Open, which allowed drivers who didn’t qualify for the race to battle in a 100-lap, last chance race.

Who Could Race: 19 race winners of past seasons and the winner of the Winston Open.

Format:  3 segments:

Segment 1: 75-laps with one mandatory green-flag pit stop.

Segment 2: 50-laps.

Segment 3: 10-lap green flag only run.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600.

Winners: 1987: Dale Earnhardt. 1988: Terry Labonte. 1989: Rusty Wallace.

Changes: In 1989, the line-up for The Winston was determined by a 3-lap timed run with a two-tire pit stop.

 

Davey Allison had two memorable All-Star wins, this in 1991...

Davey Allison had two memorable All-Star wins, this in 1991…

1990-1991: The segments were reduced from three to two and the distance reduced to 70-laps. A 10-minute break was mandatory between the two segments.

Who Could Race: 1990 was the same as the season before but in 1991, only winners from that season and the year previous were allowed in the field. The finishers of The Winston Open filled out the field of The Winston until the field reached the full 20 cars.

Format: Segment 1: 50 laps.

Segment 2: 20 laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600.

Winners: 1990: Dale Earnhardt, 1991: Davey Allison.

 

...and this memorable shower of sparks in 1992.

…and this memorable shower of sparks in 1992.

1992-1997: First time the race was held under-the-lights.

Who Could Race: Season race winners. In 1995 and after, former NASCAR Champions and race winners from the past five years could participate.

Format: Segment 1: 30 laps.

Segment 2: 30 laps.

Segment 3: 10 green flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 but the race moved to Saturday night.

Changes: In 1994, the race was run on Hoosier tires, the only time it wasn’t run on Goodyear.

Winners: 1992: Davey Allison, 1993: Dale Earnhardt, 1994: Geoffrey Bodine, 1995: Jeff Gordon, 1996: Michael Waltrip, 1997: Jeff Gordon

 

The rain in Charlotte didn't keep Jeff Gordon from scoring the win and huge pay in 2001.

The rain in Charlotte didn’t keep Jeff Gordon from scoring the win and huge pay in 2001.

1998-2001: Numerous changes were made to the set-up of the race. In 1998, only green flag laps would count towards the 70-lap total run. Cars would have the option of pitting under caution but at the expense of losing track position. This is the introduction of the twin qualifying races.

Who Could Race: Race winners and former NASCAR Champions and race winners from the past five years could participate.

Format: Segment 1: 30 laps.

Segment 2: 30 laps.

Segment 3: 10 green flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winner: 1998: Mark Martin, 1999: Terry Labonte, 2000: Dale Earnhardt Jr. & 2001: Jeff Gordon

 

A sight all too familiar in the All-Star Race for 48 fans.

A sight all too familiar in the All-Star Race for 48 fans.

2002-2003: The Winston Open returned to allow cars to qualify for the main race.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field.

Format: Segment 1: 40 laps.

Segment 2: 30 laps.

Segment 3: 20 laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Changes: Elimination is added to the segments, reducing the field every segment to only the top finishing cars. A green flag pit stop was mandatory in the first segment of the race. An inversion of the field is moved to the final 20-laps with a 10-minute break between the second and third segments.

Format: Segment 1: 40 laps.

Segment 2: 30 laps.

Segment 3: 20 green flag laps.

Winners: 2002: Ryan Newman, 2003: Jimmie Johnson

 

Mark Martin takes an All-Star win in 2005.

Mark Martin takes an All-Star win in 2005.

2004-2006: The race changed to the Nextel All-Star Challenge. The elimination was…eliminated.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field.

Format: Segment 1: 40 laps with a 4-tire stop required between lap 13 and lap 16.

Segment 2: 30 laps, field in inverted at the start of this segment.

Segment 3: 20 green flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winners: 2004: Matt Kenseth, 2005: Mark Martin & 2006: Jimmie Johnson

 

Kevin Harvick scores a smoke-filled win at Charlotte.

Kevin Harvick scores a smoke-filled win at Charlotte.

2007: Major changes came to this All-Star race. The format was changed to 80 laps broken into 20-lap segments.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the (formerly Winston) Nextel Open plus a fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: Four 20-lap segments.

1st: optional pit stop.

2nd: 10 minute “half-time” break to make adjustments.

3rd: mandatory pit stop.

4th: 20 green-flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winner: Kevin Harvick

 

Kasey Kahne was indeed old enough to enjoy Budweiser when he won in 2008.

Kasey Kahne was indeed old enough to enjoy Budweiser when he won in 2008.

2008: Format changed once again to a 100-lap race broken into four segments. The qualifying race was renamed the Sprint Showdown.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the Sprint Showdown plus a fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: Four 25 lap segments for a total of 100 laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winner: Kasey Kahne

 

Carl Edwards likely needed some Aflac insurance in 2011.

Carl Edwards likely needed some Aflac insurance in 2011.

2009-2011: 25th anniversary of the race brought back some of the classic format for this special edition race.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the Sprint Showdown plus a fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: 100 laps total.

Segment 1: 50 laps with a mandatory four-tire pit stop on lap 25.

Segment 2: 20 laps

Segment 3: 20 laps with a ten-minute break at the end

Segment 4: 10 green flag laps

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winners: 2009: Tony Stewart, 2010: Kurt Busch & 2011: Carl Edwards

 

Jamie McMurray likely spent some of his winnings for Lionel trains in 2014.

Jamie McMurray likely spent some of his winnings for Lionel trains in 2014.

2012-2014: The format changed once again and the race returned to a total of 90 laps. The race would now be broken down into five segments with the winners of the first four segments lining up P1 through P4 for the final segment.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the Sprint Showdown plus a fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: Segments 1-4: 20 laps.

Segment 5: 10 green flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winners: 2012-’13: Jimmie Johnson & 2014: Jamie McMurray

 

Denny Hamlin does the Dougie in 2015.

Denny Hamlin does the Dougie in 2015.

2015: Slight changes in who could race. NASCAR implemented a rule stating that any full-time driver who has won the All-Star race could choose to run in the current seasons All-Star race. The race was also extended to 110 total laps.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the Sprint Showdown plus a fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: Segments 1-4: 25 laps

Segment 5: 10 green flag laps

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night.

Winner: Denny Hamlin

 

Which of these coveted Cup cars will be a winner tonight? (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow)

Which of these coveted Cup cars will be a winner tonight? (Photo Credit: Zach Darrow)

2016: NASCAR made some changes that have become known as the “Brad Keselowski Rule.” The race will move to a three-segment format with the first two segments being 50 laps each that would require teams to make a pit stop. Following the end of the second segment, a random draw will determine a select number of cars that would have to make a mandatory pit stop. Other cars not in the random draw can pit AFTER the random draw but must line up in the back.

Who Could Race: Race winning drivers and owners from the previous year plus former Cup champions and past Winston winners. The qualifying race filled out the rest of the field. Also, the top-two finishers to the Sprint Showdown plus TWO fan-voted winner were added to the field.

Format: Segment 1 & 2: 50 laps.

Segment 3: 13 green flag laps.

Held: The weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 on Saturday night

Katie Copple

They say the best things are left unsaid. I say, the best things need to be put down on paper...or the internet in this case. I discovered NASCAR and the world of motorsports in college and it changed my life... and my career path. Now, when people ask me to describe myself, I tell them that I am a 20-something that has an obsession with racecars.

One Comment

  1. lorenzohoskins@gmail.com'

    Bill

    May 23, 2016 at 2:06 am

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