The Sprint All-Star Race has added a mandatory pit stop that could shake up the running order right before the final ten-lap segment, Sprint, Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR officials announced Wednesday at a news conference at the host track.
The length of the race segments remains the same: a 50-lap run that includes a mandatory green-flag pit stop; a 20-lap segment after which teams may pit under caution if they so choose; another 20-lap segment followed by a ten-minute break for adjustments to the car; and a ten-lap dash to the finish.
“The twist is, after that ten-minute break, the cars will leave pit road, and they'll line up as they finished the third leg,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “They'll follow the pace car around the first time, and the second time by, pit road will be open, and there will be four-tyre pit stops by the teams.
“For the last segment, the starting lineup will be set according to how they come off pit road.”
Driver Martin Truex Jr., who is not yet eligible for the all-star race and is campaigning for the fan vote (whereby fans can vote one driver into the race), likes the new rule.
“I think it would be a lot easier to win it from the front, and If you can gain spots on pit road, it's a no-brainer — it's going to help you,” Truex said. “Putting a lot of pressure on pit crews and adding that element to it — it's what we face every Sunday, and to bring part of that into the all-star event I think is a great thing.”
Last year, the Sprint All-Star Race provided the impetus for NASCAR's eventual move to double-file restarts for points-paying Sprint Cup events. This year's All-Star race will follow the current rules of Cup competition, with double-file restarts throughout and as many as three attempts at a green-white-checkered-flag finish.
“All the rules are the same — until we tell you that they're different,” Pemberton quipped.