South Dade News Leader: Matt Becherer

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Matt Becherer

Friday 05/18/2018
It's All Star Time

Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is Saturday at Charlotte

It’s that time of the year again when we take a break from points racing and focus on another type of racing - that of the All-Star variety. After 12 weeks of the regular season, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series turns its attention this week to the race that has been a part of the sport’s landscape since 1985.

And it seems like every year when there is conversation on our All-Star race spectacle at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there is also a multitude of opinions of how it could be done better.

While the talk ramps up each year when it comes to improvements, there is also corresponding actions which take place quite often, most of which are designed to “spice up” the event. After all, as Kyle Petty once said, this is a lot more than a race. It is a show for the fans.

Although the All-Star race was first run in 1985, it wasn’t until 1992 when it really underwent drastic change after it was in danger of being wiped off the calendar completely. That was the year when lights were installed at 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the race has been held under those same bright lights ever since. That first year, also known as “One Hot Night,” reinvigorated an event that was looking for a boost, and permanently turned it into the prime-time event that it is now. It’s an opportunity to celebrate and honor the best drivers of NASCAR.

In some cases the “tweaking” of the rules of the All-Star race have been done to make the racing more interesting, and in other instances ideas have been implemented with the thought that it could be successful in carrying over into points racing. One such example is stage racing, something that was instituted in all three of NASCAR’s national series in 2017, and has drawn universal praise in the industry. That was an idea born in the 1987 All-Star race. Today, the All-Star Race is a four-stage race with stage lengths of 30-20-20-10.

This year, there are several more twists to the package that will be used at Saturday’s All-Star race. The most prominent of these is the use of restrictor plates, the first time that they will be utilized at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Typically, they are only used in four Monster Energy Series races a year – the two at Daytona and the two at Talladega. In addition, the cars will be fitted with aero ducts, a 6-inch high spoiler with two 12-inch ears and a 2014 style splitter. It’s the same package that the XFINITY Series ran at Indianapolis last season, a race that produced 16 leads changes among eight different drivers. However, it has never been used in the Cup Series. Until now that is.

And it should make for some unpredictable moments.

And at the end of the day that’s what fans of any sport are looking for in an event, particularly in an All-Star game or race when it is very rare that anyone really remembers the outcome. It’s that one defining moment that sticks in the memory banks.

And although many fans of the sport and those watching from the periphery might feel as though these modifications are a sign that the All-Star race is on life support, I really believe it’s just the opposite.

Every major sport is constantly tinkering with their All-Star events to make it as much of a show for the fans as possible. I don’t think you’re ever going to emulate an actual game, or in this case a race, when it comes to All-Star events. In fact, the NHL went completely away from the traditional six-on-six in their All-Star game three years ago when they featured a four-team, 3-on-3 tournament. After the 2002 Major League Baseball All-Star game ended in a tie, the outcome of the next 14 Mid-Summer Classics (2003-16) would determine which league had the home-field advantage in the World Series.

Of all the major sports, the Monster Energy All-Star race might have more ways for a driver to get into the prestigious field. Not only does it consist of race winners from the 2017 season as well as the first 12 races this year, but there is also an Open portion on Saturday which precedes the actual race, as well as a fan vote. So not only does it keep the fans on the edge of their seats, but also many of the drivers who are vying for some of the final coveted spots.

As a fan, the one thing you can never do is associate change with fallibility. When these alterations stop happening is when you need to start worrying. For now, sit back and enjoy what should be a great night of racing on Saturday as we recognize the top drivers our sport has to offer.


Saturday, May 19 at 6:00 PM (ET)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

Friday, May 18 at 8:30 PM (ET)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Tune In: FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90

**XFINITY Series is off this weekend and will return to action on May 26**


May 19-20 Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

May 26-27 Formula & Automobile Racing Association (FARA)

June 1

Fast Lane Friday

June 2-3 Championship Cup Series (CCS – Motorcycles)

June 9 Performance Driving Group

Posted in Opinion, Columnists, Matt becherer, Sports on Friday, May 18, 2018 10:26 am. Comments (0)


Matt Becherer is President of Homestead-Miami Speedway. This long-time motorsports executive is one of the good guys, and he leads a team of 40 that operate the track. If you would like to talk to Matt, he can be reached at chatwithmatt

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