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article imageNASCAR: All-Star Race format confuses and frustrates drivers

By John Duarte     May 22, 2016 in Sports
Concord - Joey Logano had raced in five Sprint All-Star Races during his seven-year NASCAR career and hadn't won a single one, until now.
On Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Logano put it all together during the final 13-lap segment to take the $1-million prize waiting in Victory Lane.
“I thought our car was fast the whole time,” said Logano. “We just didn't really show the speed in our car until the end.”
Logano and Kyle Larson as the laps ticked off in the final segment of the Sprint All-Star Race. Logano said he watched the Sprint Showdown and saw what Larson was capable of. He added that he knew what he had in store—a battle to the finish.
“I felt confident that we had a very good shot at racing for the win.” He told himself, “It's Larson and I for this thing.”
With a little over two laps to go, Logano and Larson were racing side-by-side, with neither car appearing to have a clear advantage. They came together momentarily and Larson's car slid up the track and made contact with the outside wall. His race was over.
Larson, who was elated earlier in the day after winning the Sprint Showdown, was dejected after his battle with Logano. He wound finish 16th in the 2016 Sprint All-Star Race.
“I keep letting my team down,” Larson said, choking back tears. “This will be hard to get over.”
Logano called Larson “a heck of a racer” and said “it was a lot of fun” battling Larson in the closing laps of the All-Star Race.
“It's fun to see the youth in this sport,” said the 26-year-old Logano. “He's going to win a lot of races, that's for sure.”
Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski placed second in the race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third.
The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race field of 20 drivers comprised of the winners of 2015 races, winners of races so far this year, winners of previous all-star races, previous Sprint Cup Series champions, winners of the three segments in this year's Sprint Showdown and two drivers voted in by fans.
The All-Star Race format was changed for this year's event. There would be two 50-lap segments followed by a final 13-lag segment to decide the winner.
It is fair to say that most drivers and teams hadn't quite grasped the new format. Several drivers were heard on radio asking their crew chiefs for clarification on what was happening on the track and only met with a “wish we knew” type of answer. Among those was the eventual race winner.
“There was a point I came over the radio where I said, I don't know what's going on. I don't really want to know,” he told his crew chief, Todd Gordon. “Let me drive the car and you call the race. All I know is if there's a car in front of me, I probably should pass him.”
Another frustrated driver was Tony Stewart. The three-time series champion is retiring after this season and was named grand marshal of the 2016 Sprint All-Star Race. He was forced out of the race after an accident on Lap 70. Stewart didn't mince his words after exiting the infield care centre after being checked out. He criticized the format and blamed NASCAR officials for making a mess of the rules.
“I'm glad this is the last one,” an angry Stewart said.
With the million dollars handed out, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the competition part of the schedule on May 29 with the Coca-Cola 600 at North Carolina's Charlotte Motor Speedway..
Kevin Harvick heads into the summer portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leading the driver standings. He is 21 points of the reigning series champion, Kyle Busch, with Kurt Busch in third place, another 11 points further back.
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