The NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is laced with new incentives for 2013 that will make this weekend's spectacle even more enthralling than usual.
Extra money at stake and a slightly tweaked format give the top stock car drivers plenty of motivation to strut their skills for the entirety of the race despite the fact that this is an exhibition.
Charlotte Motor Speedway will foster the annual Sprint Showdown ahead of Saturday evening's main event. The 40-lap thrill ride allows two more drivers to qualify for the All-Star Race, and a fan vote determines the 22nd and final competitor.
There may not be any points on the line for these renowned drivers, but pride alone and the increased paychecks should only enhance the qualify of this racing showcase. The All-Star Race itself is divided into four 20-lap segments, followed by a captivating 10-lap finale to determine the champion.
Below is a breakdown of the new bonuses that the top NASCAR stars can enjoy for beating out their top-flight counterparts.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of NASCAR.com.
Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.
When: Saturday, May 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET
|88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet|
Repositioning after Fourth Segment
Drivers will be reconfigured based on their average finish in the first four segments, following the mandatory pit stop in which all competitors will get four new tires for the final stretch.
This puts an added emphasis on the first 80 laps, and particularly on the individual segments, giving each their own significance. It should continue to keep fans engaged throughout—at least more so than if the order for the fifth segment were only determined by the positions through the fourth.
Each segment is separated by five caution laps, and it's up to the drivers and their pit crews' discretion as to when they should bring the car down pit lane for a tuneup. That will make the yellow flag following the third segment particularly critical.
This tweak to the format rewards consistency throughout and the savvy to make adjustments on the fly.
Rather than the drivers hanging back and waiting to make their move closer to the finale, it will be important to register a solid finish in each burst of action.
$1 Million Bonus Incentive
Also making the action more intense will be the Bruton's Big Bonus, which will give the ultimate winner a handsome seven-figure reward.
In order to obtain that, a driver will have to win all four 20-lap segments, and hang onto their front-running position as the 10-lap fifth segment heats up. Given how tough of a field this is, it's going to be extremely difficult for one driver to remain out in front.
Having said that, the short-term nature of the race in Concord could feasibly lend itself to a wire-to-wire victor. The smaller field won't create as many traffic issues as usual, but pit strategy will be extremely key.
It will be important for drivers not to get too greedy, as staying out on the track for too long could result in running out of the requisite fuel to maintain an early advantage.
This also prevents the possibility that drivers will coast through the opening segments, and should heat up the competition along with the aforementioned average finish adjustment.