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home : features : strap in December 17, 2014

5/16/2013 10:30:00 PM
Will Someone Pocket $2,000,000 for Winning the All-Star Race This Weekend?
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ACT’s handicapper Nick Bigelow makes his way to the tower just after 7 a.m., May 27, to set up the transponder system. Most fans have no idea what a track staff and the racers and crews do to prepare for an event. Practice doesn’t start until 10 a.m. and post time is 1:30.


Biggy can be reached at
R. Bigelow, 294 Hillside Dr., St. Johnsbury, VT 05819


By Big Bigelow

For years now the All-Star event has paid a million bucks to the winner. Last year NASCAR ended up with egg on their face after Jimmy Johnson’s team won the first segment and then rode around half-throttle knowing they were guaranteed to line up in one of the top four spots before the final segment because he won the first segment.

This year how a driver finishes in the first four segments will dictate where he lines up before the final segment. Bruton Smith has put up an extra million if someone can win all five segments.

The new format still calls for five segments, four 20-lappers followed by a 10-lap shoot-out.

Before that final segment, drivers will be lined up based on average finish for the first four segments. Ties will be broken by the best finish of the fourth segment.

After the field is set, the pace car will pick up the field. Pit road will then open for the mandatory four-tire stop. How they leave pit road will determine the starting order of the fifth segment.

For a reason I still don’t understand, laps run behind the pace car will count in the first four segments. They then got it right when they decided not to count yellow flag laps in the 10-lap shoot out.

There’ll be an optional pit stop during the break following each of the first three segments, at which time they can pit or stay out. The field will then be set by the pit stop/stay out positioning.

The All-Star race is for anyone who won a point-counting race in 2012 and anyone who has a win this season. In with a win last year are Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, and Kevin Harvick. David Ragan is in after his win at Talladega a couple of weeks ago.

Any past champions in the last 10 years get a provisional. Kurt Busch is the only guy taking that free pass.

The next freebie goes to anyone who has won this event in the past 10 years. Only one guy, Mark Martin, is in that line.

Before the All-Star race, they’ll run a B-feature open to anyone who finished in the top 55 in Cup points last season or anyone who attempted to qualified for the 2013 Daytona 500. The top two from that race transfer to the All-Star race.

The final invitee will be the driver voted in by the fans. With Dale Earnhardt Jr. already in, smart money has Danica Patrick being the fans choice.

In order for the fans vote to transfer, that driver has to finish on the lead lap of the B-feature. I wonder if Vegas is taking bets if Patrick will be “saved” by a debris caution about the time the leaders are closing in on her?

Change in All-Star Fan Vote: A tweak announced Wednesday for the Sprint All-Star race will allow the winner of the Sprint Fan Vote from the Sprint Showdown to advance into the main event without being on the lead lap, as long as the car is in "raceable" condition as determined by Sprint Cup Series director John Darby.

Cup Quickies and Random Thoughts

I’m guessing someone a lot smarter than I am makes the decision as to which network broadcasts the Cup races. So can someone tell me who decided to put the All-Star race on the Speed channel, knowing millions of households don’t get that channel?

Does it have anything to do with NACSAR and the owners of that channel being in cahoots with each other and hoping fans will pay extra to add the channel?

• Jeff Gordon, with 700 starts, all consecutive, is 88 starts from tying Ricky Rudd’s all-time consecutive streak of 788. Gordon ran the last race of the year at Atlanta back in 1992. Bobby Labonte is one race behind him, having made his first start in the 1993 Daytona 500.

If the schedule stays around 36 races a year, they’ll close in on Rudd’s record in September 2015.

• Gordon’s third place finish at Darlington was his 300th top 5. He becomes only the fourth driver to accomplish that feat. The others are David Pearson, Bobby Allison and Richard Petty.

• Gordon’s third was his 22nd top 10 in 33 races at Darlington Raceway.

• Has any race received more air time than the Darlington finish with Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch pounding on each other? It may have something to do with Craven being on NASCAR Now, but enough is enough. I believe if they show that clip only three more times it’ll have been shown more than the fight during the 1979 Daytona 500.

• With today’s technology, it’s time NASCAR stops suspending crew chiefs. They’re in constant communication with their team anyways so why not just let them in the garage area. I’d be interested to know how many teams have won with the crew chief suspended.

• As a stat freak I was surprised to read last weekend was only the third time in history that teammates have finished one-two in the Southern 500. Hendrick did it in 2009 with Mark Martin and Johnson and Holman-Moody did it back in 1964 with Buck Baker and Jim Paschal.

• In the last 65 Cup races, Kyle Busch has led the most laps in 12 of them but has gone on to only win two of those races. In that same span, Jimmie Johnson has led the most laps in 11 of them and went on to win seven of them. Hamlin and Kenseth have each led the most laps in seven of them but only won two of them.

Remember the Winston Million?

Are you old enough to remember back before the 1985 season when Winston announced they’d pay a million bucks (back then that was a big pile of dough) to any driver who could win three of the four “big races”? The four races were the Daytona 500, the spring event at Talladega, the Coke 600 at Charlotte and the Labor Day race at Darlington.

Only twice prior to 1985 had anyone won three of the four races. Lee Roy Yarbrough did it in 1969, fact is he was three for three since the spring event at Talladega wasn’t added to the schedule until 1970. David Pearson won three of them in 1976. He crashed on lap 23 of the spring ’Dega race.

I can remember no one thinking much about it because it was so unlikely anyone would do it. Then Bill Elliott won the first two, Daytona and ’Dega and the major hype began. You have to remember, this was back when racing wasn’t talked about daily on TV. In the Coke 600, Elliott had trouble and finished 18th, 21 laps down.

Leading up to the Labor Day event at Darlington, the hype ratcheted up once again. Every time Elliott turned around, someone was sticking a microphone in his face. People were amazed to see film footage of him working under his car. Many figured all the media hype would crush him and his team but he went on to lead 100 of 367 laps to win the bonus.

If my old memory is correct, I believe the idea came from a gentleman named T. Wayne Robinson who worked for Winston and was a big presence at the tracks. He figured no one would ever do it and publicity would be priceless.

Interestingly enough, no one would do it again until Jeff Gordon did it in 1997, the last year of the promotion.

So why am I bringing this up now, you may be asking yourself?

Matt Kenseth, who won his first-ever race at Darlington last weekend, joins Gordon and Jimmie Johnson as the only three active drivers who have won the Daytona 500, The Coke 600 and the Southern 500 in their careers. Note the word career and not in the same season.

The Definition of Being Broke

Did you catch the special on Richard Childress the other day? He and his wife talked about putting their bills in a hat and picking out which ones would get paid that week. He also talks about winning enough cash to buy gas enough to get the car home that night.

The comment that got my attention was when he said he changed his number from a two digit one to a single digit. He used to run the numbers 96, 41 or 26. He switched to the No. 3 because the painters got paid by the hour and a single digit was faster when you figure in both doors and the roof.

Had Enough of DW

Art Garner, who writes a piece called The Auto Racing Review, is looking forward to Fox being done broadcasting the Cup races. In this week’s column, “In Need of a Boogity, Boogity, Boogity Break,” he wrote – DW needs to show fans more respect. I don’t know about you, but I need a break from boogity, boogity, boogity.

“When Darrell Waltrip isn’t raving about NASCAR’s Gen 6 race car, he’s busy praising/defending Kyle Busch. Or telling us how great Danica Patrick is doing. It’s gotten to the point where it is ruining the race.”

To read more check out

Canaan’s Subway Fresh Fit 150

The Subway 150 which was postponed May 11 has been rescheduled for August 11 as part of a tripleheader weekend at Canaan (NH) Fair Speedway.

ACT Late Model Tour

Three of the 14 point-counting events for 2013 are in the books – Lee, Thunder Road and Devil’s Bowl. In those first three races, a total of 108 cars have shown up for an average of 36 cars per event. Last season that number was 122 cars or 40.6 cars per event.

• In 2013 we’ve seen 61 different drivers while last year at this time 66 different drivers had attempted to qualify.

• 2013 has seen 11 different drivers with a top 5 (2012 it was 10).

• 18 different drivers have finished in the top 10 this season, last season at this time 21 different drivers had a top 10.

• The Late Model Tour started with eight races in 1992. After Devil’s Bowl, they’ve run 236 point-counting events.

• Three divers – Joey M. Laquerre, Josh Masterson and Kevin Elliott – have started their first-ever events in 2013. That brings the total number of drivers who have attempted to qualify for an ACT race to 658 different drivers. Go back and read that again, six hundred and fifty-eight drivers.

ACT Notes

For the first time since 2010, Airborne Speedway will host multiple Tour events. The half-mile speedway will host the ACT 100, May 18, plus the inaugural ACT International 500 event on July 21 and the season-ending Fall Foliage event in September.

Airborne has seen 40 Tour races to date. Previous winners are Brian Hoar (7), Patrick Laperle (5), Jean-Paul Cyr (4), Mark Lamberton (3), Phil Scott (3), Dennis Demers (2) and Brent Dragon (2). Drivers with one win there are Richard Buzzi, Pat Corbett, Wayne Helliwell Jr., Pete Fecteau, Chris Fisher, Jamie Fisher, Jacob McGrath, Steve Miller, Ryan Nolin, Scott Payea, Joey Polewarczyk Jr., Steve Renaudette, Todd Stone and Dave Whitcomb.

Riverside Speedway

Riverside is hosting a Fantasy Racing program for fans this year. Fans will pick one driver from the Late Models, Limited Late Models, Street Stocks and the Angels. They’ll receive points each week just like the drivers do. At the end of the season, the top three point getters will receive prizes courtesy of Dan Fournier and Riverside Speedway, including a 2014 season’s pass to Riverside. Winners will also receive tickets to the Fall Brawl and one of them will be the honorary starter, throwing the green flag.

More details will be coming soon.

Coming Up Next

BEAR RIDGEMay 18: It’s Vermont Food Bank Benefit Night for the ROCK99 Weekly Racing Series. On the card are the DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Sportsman Coupes, Limited Late Models, Fast Fours, Hornets, plus the USAC Dirt Midget Association. Post time is 6:00-ish.

WHITE MOUNTAIN – May 18: Car show from noon to 1:30 on the track, followed by a practice until 4:30.

ACTMay 18 will run 100 laps on the half-mile at Airborne Speedway in Plattsburgh, N.Y. First heat rolls at 5 p.m.

PASS – May 18 will head north of the border to Autodrome Chaudiere in Vallee-Jonction, QC. Post time is 5:45 p.m.

RIVERSIDEMay 19: Car Show noon to 2 p.m. at the track with a practice going from 2-5 p.m.

THUNDER ROAD – The Road doesn’t run again until May 26. The Late Models will compete in the first event of the Vermont State Championship Series (two races at both TR and Devil’s Bowl. The Devil’s Bowl Modified division will also join the Tigers and Street stocks.

Until Next Week

Get out and enjoy some short-track racing this weekend. But remember: “If you’re not having fun, stay home and don’t bother those of us who are.”


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