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The Art of Racing - All-Star race a success

In many ways, the aerodynamic package that NASCAR implemented for the All-Star race last weekend was a success. The package also included restrictor plates, something only done at Daytona and Talladega. Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC was the site for the race, and being a 1-1/2 mile “cookie cutter” track, racing could get boring if changes were not made.

The aero/engine package for the All-Star race created intense, close quarters racing all night long and had the fans on the edge of their seats. NASCAR’s Steve O’Donnell addressed the media after the race. “(There are) a lot of things still to work on. We didn’t want to push too much…you do like some things you see…so, how do we continue to look at this?” O’Donnell said that NASCAR will create a timeline for 2019 and make decisions on racing going forward.

The new package showed that cars could close and pass. Even the leader in clean air could not get away from the field. NASCAR’s loop data showed 38 passes for the lead under green, with 17 official lead changes at the start-finish line. Official lead changes last year? Zero. A car could catch others without help, while passing was a little bit trickier, but there was plenty of it, along with side-by-side battles for position throughout the race. Restarts weren’t the best or only opportunity to make moves. For fans in attendance, it was compelling, fast-paced action for just over 90 laps.

Seventeen drivers had the automatic entry into the race with four others added after the “open,” the qualifying race for the remaining teams. Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and A.J. Allmendinger all won stages in the Open to advance, while Chase Elliott won the fan vote.

After a dismal return to Cup racing in Kansas, Matt Kenseth quickly got his act together to win the pole for the All-Star race. Kevin Harvick soon showed everyone that he was the driver to beat this year, as he quickly made his way into the lead. He was not able to open a huge gap, but he showed he was very difficult to pass, and won the first stage. Kyle Busch’s pit crew got him out first for Stage 2, and he never relinquished that lead. The third stage was extremely competitive with several drivers wanting the lead. It took two overtimes for Harvick to win Stage 3. Harvick led the final 10 laps to win the $1 million prize, his second All-Star win.

Harvick said afterward that five years from now, NASCAR will look back on this race as the one that started it all. Time will tell, but the action was furious Saturday night.

For race-car junkies, Sunday is your day. The Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix is on ESPN at 8 a.m. The INDY 500 follows at 11 a.m. on ABC, and NASCAR finishes up the day with the Coco-Cola 600 at 5 pm on FOX. Enjoy!