The 2013 All Star Race at Charlotte saw the latest gimmick format hoping to promote more passing and also to answer wins by Jimmie Johnson where he "gamed" the previous system to get favorable late track position. The newest format used four segments and the average finish of those segments to set pitstop entry for the drivers. It contained its own failure that went overlooked by everyone - it set the pitstop, not the restart order for the final ten-lap segment. By doing so it allowed Johnson to "game" the system again via a faster stop. In short the new gimmick failed like the others have failed, and the best average finish concept was poorly presented by NASCAR and by the FOX broadcasters.
Johnson's victory via "gaming" of the system also didn't sit well with fans, while the actual race was yet another exercise in competitive ennui, despite a few sideswipes between cars, notably Ricky Stenhouse's crash with Mark Martin as well as Brad Keselowski's blown transmission. The Busch brothers won all four segments - Kurt Busch's efforts were about the only competitive novelty of the race given the low-budget nature of the Barney Visser raceteam.
There are two fiascos at work here. The first is the concept of the All Star Race, an event long hyped for action and for the shackles of points racing not being there, but which has rarely produced memorable competition - 1994 remains the best All Star race because there was actual racing for the win, between Sterling Marlin, Geoff Bodine, and Ken Schrader, amid the usual spate of crashes. The All Star Race has seen repeated changes in its format to entice harder racing, and it has always failed to deliver.
One has to serious ask the question - is it time to end the All Star Race and instead use the money for a 37th points race? It seems the answer is yes - the All Star Race has accomplished nothing for the sport and the market for extra points races is still there - certainly giving back Atlanta its spring race would be a better idea than an All Star Race at Charlotte.
The second fiasco is the Generation Six racecar. The All Star Race was yet another exercise in aeropush, something the sport was supposed to have solved long ago but which it seems incapable of solving. It's old hat to point out that dirty air is supposed to create a drafting effect to increase passing - but the fact a drafting effect was noticeable in the Friday night Truck 200-miler makes this relevant yet again. That the sport is not seeing any change where the cars want to run in dirty air is nothing but an indictment of the sanctioning body yet again for inability to solve what is supposed to be a solveable problem.
Bob Pockrass raised the idea of running a softer tire, and so has Dave Moody - as though the sport hasn't already seen this can't work, because it hasn't. No, the issue isn't tires, it's too much horsepower, insufficient grip, and aeropush. The Trucks, the NASCAR Modifieds at New Hampshire - the sport has seen that restricting horsepower and blasting open air create passing. The draft needs to be more important than handling - it has been the solution for racing forever.
The All Star Race also showed the competitive lock put on the sport this year by Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, even with Kurt Busch's superb showing in the Visser Chevy and the surprising second for Joey Logano and the Penske #22. Six of the top ten were Hendrick/JGR cars while the Roush Fords were terrible - pole sitter Carl Edwards never got anything going while nobody else running a Ford got anywhere close to the top ten. The RCR Chevys weren't all that stout; they ran decent in the preliminary Showdown, but a hooligan race isn't the feature and their poor showing is a bad sign for the 600.
So it ended as basically yet another test session for the 600, and it showcased that what promise the Gen-6 had looks to be gone.