NASCAR

All-Star race changes emphasize winning and pitting

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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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NASCAR and Nextel hope to make All-Star week in May the best ever.

Nextel All-Star Challenge changes

  • Pit Crew Challenge: Determines pit picks.
  • Open: Top two drivers plus driver voted by fans makes all-star race.
  • All-Star Challenge: Four 20-lap segments or "quarters".
    -1st quarter: 15 green-flag laps plus five caution laps. Pit stops are optional.
    -2nd quarter: 20 green-flag laps followed by 10-minute break.
    -3rd quarter: 20 green-flag laps followed by caution flag for a mandatory minimum stop-and-go pit. Teams start 4th quarter based on order after pit stops.
    -4th quarter: Only green-flag laps (20) count in race for $1 million.
  • The week will kick off with the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge at the Charlotte Bobcats Arena on May 16. The finishing order from the Challenge will determine pit-stall selection for the Nextel All-Star Challenge. "We all know how important pit selection can be and how having that last pit can be an advantage," said Larry McReynolds, FOX Sports analyst and former Cup crew chief. The NASCAR Nextel Open is a throwback to the old hooligan's race at Charlotte for drivers who did not qualify of the Challenge on merit — wins or former race winners. Two 20-lap segments will be broken up by a five-lap caution period with an optional pit stop. The green flag will kick-off the second segment with the top two drivers — and the fan vote winner from the lead lap — transferring on to the Challenge.

    The Nextel All-Star Challenge will now be divided into four 20-lap segments — sans the funky former inversion of the field. The first quarter will feature 15 green-flag laps concluding with five caution laps and the opportunity for a pit stop to make chassis or tire changes. The second segment is 20 laps of green flag racing followed by a 10-minute break. Pit road will be open and the cars will line up according to the finishing order for the third segment. Following the third segment, the caution flag will fly for a minimum stop-and-go pit stop. Teams will line up in the position they came off pit road to begin the fourth and final 20-lap segment — where only green flag laps count. The first driver to the checkered flag receives a $1 million prize and as H.A. Humpy Wheeler is quick to point out, "With the All-Star race, no one is satisfied with finishing second." "This event is going to be different, major sports — at least basketball and football — are divided into four quarters," said Wheeler, president of Lowe's Motor Speedway. "We've complicated this event to where its difficult for you to translate to the fans, but it's what happens in the event that matters. We want to put the emphasis on winning." The NASCAR Nextel Pit Crew Challenge and All-Star Challenge events can be seen on SPEED. Lee Spencer is a senior NASCAR writer for FOXSports.com.

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