Time for some more tweaking.
The All-Star Race was originally designed to give fans an extra day of entertainment, the first one being run on the Saturday before the 600.
But over the years, the event has become a test-race for NASCAR and a barometer for Charlotte as both the sanctioning body and the race track try out new ideas for cars and the very idea of entertainment.
Some worked. Most of the ideas didn’t.
And slowly over time, the All-Star Race morphed into a lumbering event, a week in advance of the 600 and a test of wills for race fans. For the most part, the event seemed to have run aground.
So last year, after tweaking the race so many times it was no longer recognizable, NASCAR relented to fan pressure and allowed the teams to run the revolutionary aero package first tested in the Xfinity Series.
And voila! It actually worked.
The funny thing about NASCAR and success is they never seem to mesh. For whatever reason, we had to wait until this year for the package to be implemented and then we had to wait until last week to actually see it work as it was designed.
Nobody really knows why the package has been such a miserable failure this season, but after Dover there was an outcry from the drivers, many of whom said the package was never going to work in the first place.
But then came last week at Kansas, a cookie-cutter track just like Charlotte, and the race was actually worth watching.
Now everyone is confused.
So as we head into the All-Star Race, the cars will be tweaked a little more, technical stuff involving the splitter pan and a radiator exhaust that might make the cars more stable or might make the drivers more angry. We’ll wait to see what Kyle Busch has to say.
The track also announced changes, this year’s race lengthened yet again for some reason, assuring us a long Saturday night and probably a boring race. The original All-Star Race was 105 miles long. But only three years into it, they pushed it to 202 miles.
Eventually, they realized it wasn’t working, reduced it to the original length before once again messing with the formula, confusing the fans and watering down the entertainment value.
Last year’s overtime race was a bolt of lightning that no one expected. This year, NASCAR decided to try an emulate last season with some minor tweaks.
If anything, the history of the All-Star Race has shown that minor tweaks result in major headaches. The original intent of the event was lost years ago as NASCAR saw the opportunity to try out new ideas for the cars and the track saw an opportunity to make more cash.
We’ll see if they can finally get it right and stick with something that works. Or we’ll see that last year and last week were anomalies and watch the sport spend the rest of the season chasing itself.