The Frontstretch: Big Six: Sprint All-Star Race by Amy Henderson -- Monday May 18, 2009

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Big Six: Sprint All-Star Race

Amy Henderson · Monday May 18, 2009

 

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Who…gets my shoutout of the race?

I’m going to take a hard right turn from the norm and award a winner in this category. He wasn’t the million-dollar winner, I know, but I’d be willing to bet that Sam Hornish, Jr. felt like a million dollars after winning the Sprint Showdown. While not an official points race, the victory was Hornish’s first in a stock car. And while due credit should be given to improving Penske equipment, Hornish is doing a fair job of steady improvement himself these days. Sure, the big names weren’t there to contend with, but Hornish proved his mettle against the best of the rest on Saturday.

What…was that?

NASCAR let it go when Kyle Busch jumped a restart on Saturday because the All-Star race has different restart rules (the start of a segment is treated like the start of a race, and drivers may not pass on either side before the flagstand), but I’m not sure how NASCAR overlooked it when Busch ran over the air hose on a pit stop after sliding through his pit. That’s not a special rule — that’s an automatic penalty every week. Either an official was caught napping on that one, or NASCAR wanted to artificially create excitement by keeping Busch in the lead pack. Some fans have even speculated a darker motive than that … but in any case, it looks bad. If NASCAR wonders why fans think they try to manipulate the outcome of races, well, failure to adhere to their simplest rules is it.

On the subject of Kyle Busch, I have to say that I — and many others I have talked to — found Darrell Waltrip’s gushing over the driver during the SPEED broadcast pretty sickening. It was one thing for Ned Jarrett to root for his son at Daytona, or even for Ol’ D.W. to call his brother to the checkers. But it’s another thing entirely to show such bias as Waltrip did on Saturday night.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

After dominating the opening segment, Jimmie Johnson ended up an also-ran after Denny Hamlin sent him spinning on the opening lap of the final segment. Johnson didn’t suffer major damage from the incident, but it left him an unlucky 13th at the end. Under All-Star rules, Johnson could have restarted in the position he had been in at the time of the spin — since the running order reverts to the last lap completed — but Johnson had to pit for tires, forfeiting the spot and a chance to win a third All-Star trophy.

When…will I be loved?

During the 100-lap main event, there were just three cautions for on-track incidents, and one of those was really due to three cars trying to fit where three cars don’t fit. As for the other two, both left one driver fuming and another considering his future in an Everly Brothers cover band. The means we’ll spread the lack of love this week, splitting this dubious award between Sam Hornish, Jr. (from shoutout to goat award in one day, a new Big Six record!), who ended Greg Biffle’s race 28 laps early, and Denny Hamlin, who spun Johnson on lap 91.

The crowd reaction to Joey Logano being named the fan vote winner for the All-Star race was almost as awkward as Logano’s reaction to Ric Flair.

Why…do we have to have that 50-lap segment?

The first segment of the All-Star race was, for this type of race on this type of track, too long. While Jimmie Johnson led every lap of the segment in dominating fashion was a testament to just how good a race team can be when they get a car dialed in, it wasn’t exactly compelling racing. And why should it have been? There was no incentive for anyone to really race in the early going. My solution? Make the race four 20-lap segments before the ten-lap shootout. Eliminate three to five cars each segment, so that the final ten laps is decided only by the ten best. Sure, some fans will complain if their guy gets sent packing early. But I say, too bad – they should have been faster when it counted. At least eliminations would force the cars at the back to actually race and not just ride.

How…popular was the fan vote winner, really?

After the Sprint Showdown, NASCAR called four cars to the tech line to prepare for the All-Star race – the top two finishers, the No.’s 77 and 26, and presumably the top two in contention for the Fan Vote – the No. 20 and the No. 44. However, Joey Logano ended up making the cut over A. J. Allmendinger. There was speculation among fans afterward that perhaps the winner’s sponsor had played the spoiler in the contest, having enough employees that, if computers were set up in the breakroom and everyone was… er, strongly encouraged to vote every time they had a chance, they could have easily influenced the outcome, whether those employees were actual race fans or not. I can’t say whether that was true — but I will leave you this week with this thought: when Logano was announced to the crowd at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the fan reaction was one of unmitigated…apathy. The silence was startling… and perhaps, it spoke volumes.

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dawg
05/18/2009 10:19 AM
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Apparently all of the NA$CAR officials could have gone behind the wall, & just ate donuts (something they must be good at. Has anyone else noticed the tightly stretched uniforms on most of them?) They seem to have ignored any, & all pit violations. What you mentioned, plus the 11 crew letting a tire roll away. One of the talking heads mentioned that they got it, but when it leaves the box, it’s a penalty. Apparently the rules for this, are like most NA$CAR rules, made up as they go along. The only thing I really liked about this race was the side by side restarts. the leader should have a choice on every restart.

Carl D.
05/18/2009 10:39 AM
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Amy…

I don’t know where you were sitting, but in section G the fans cheered pretty good when Logano was revealed as the fan vote winner. Actually, I was a little surpised by that, because Logano hasn’t exactly set the Nascar world on fire this season. Maybe I was sitting in the Home Depot complimentary ticket section.

I have attended many, many races over the years at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Can’t say LMS, sorry). For a significant part of my lifetime, I was there for the Coca-Cola 600 each year, along with the Busch/Nationwide 300, and the Fall 500 miler and it’s Busch/Nationwide race as well. I have seen, by my estimation, tens of thousands of miles of racing at Charlotte. That said, the 75 miles that made up the first segment of the All-Star race may have been the most boring 75 miles I’ve ever edured at the track.

mike
05/18/2009 06:22 PM
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So if Kyle was one of the few, if not the only, driver to really create excitement, what else was DW supposed to talk about? Digger?

I know Jeff Gordon gets boos but the ones he got Saturday night were louder than what Kyle got.I think it even took him back a little. (Go watch the tape for his introduction)

So finally it was Hamlin who spun Jimmie instead of the other way around…too bad he doesn’t do it during a points race.

You know, I wish nascar HAD put Kyle to the back after his pit stop deal, he would have caused even MORE excitement. But that means that DW would have talked about him even more. LOL.

 

Contact Amy Henderson

Recent articles from Amy Henderson:

Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Announces Partnership with Cessna, Textron
Fans To Decide Format of Sprint Unlimited at Daytona
UNOH and Kentucky Speedway Extend Sponsorship Agreement
Earnhardt Out For Charlotte and Kansas After Talldega Concussion
Piquet, Jr. Wins K&N East Opener

Want to know more about Amy or see an archive of all of her articles? Check out her bio page for more information.