Winning segments, pit road strategy critical in new All-Star Race format
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Kasey Kahne, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson already are eligible for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, which will be held Saturday, May 19. Fans can vote for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to guarantee him a spot in the May 19 exhibition event.
But this year, there will be more incentive for performing well early in the race. The All-Star Race will consist of four 20-lap segments, concluding with a 10-lap sprint and a $1 million payout to the race winner. This year’s format will place a higher premium for drivers who win one of the four segments, however, as the winners of the first four segments will move to the front of the field and line up one-two-three-four prior to the field coming to pit road for the final mandatory pit stop.
When the drivers come down pit road, crew chiefs will have to decide on their best pit strategy. The team that makes the best call, combined with the optimum performance on pit road, is likely to be in the best seat for the final 10 laps of competition. Wherever the drivers are positioned as they come off pit road after that pit stop is where they will line up to start the final 10-lap segment.
“This new addition to the format is going to provide even greater incentive for the drivers to go all out to win one of the four segments,” said Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition. “It also puts even more focus on the pit crews and how they perform during that final pit stop. The team aspect of the sport will be highlighted more than ever and it helps set the stage for an exciting race and an exciting evening for the fans.”
The eligibility standards for the All-Star Race remain the same: race winners from either the 2011 or 2012 season through May 12 or any past champions of the all-star event or Sprint Cup during the previous 10 years are eligible for the race. In addition, the top-two finishers in the Sprint Showdown, a 40-lap preliminary race scheduled for 7:30 p.m. and the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote, all advance into the all-star race lineup.
Individual tickets for the May 19 All-Star Race and Blake Shelton pre-race concert are on sale now starting at $39. Fans also can purchase an All-Star Four-Pack for $99. Tickets can be obtained online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling Charlotte Motor Speedway at 1-800-455-FANS.
The eighth annual NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge returns to kick off the all-star week’s competition, Thursday, May 17 at 7 p.m. at the Time Warner Cable Arena. The event’s finishing order determines pit selection for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.Tickets for the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge start at $15 and can be purchased online at www.pitcrewchallenge.com or by calling the Charlotte Bobcats ticket office at 800-745-3000.