Saturday, February 24, 2018
Sports

NASCAR All-Star race confusing, then thrilling

CONCORD, N.C. — Say this about NASCAR's confusing and chaotic Sprint All-Star Race: At least it was entertaining.

It was lambasted by drivers and fans for its new format, yet late Saturday still produced one of the most memorable All-Star Races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, from the moment Matt Kenseth's botched strategy in the first segment derailed the new format until Joey Logano's gripping battle with Kyle Larson for the victory.

"The racing was significantly better than last year," Logano said. "I remember this race last year, and I'd get trapped because all you can do is run the bottom. We saw a lot of side-by-side racing (Saturday night), saw a lot of (tires) fall off, and obviously with so much strategy, a lot of us didn't know what was going on because there was so much strategy. That's what it promoted. It promoted a lot of racing, hard racing, and I thought it was great."

The race had three segments: 50 laps, 50 laps, then 13, with the top 11 cars forced to pit for four fresh tires after the second segment.

Kenseth was waiting until the end of the first segment to make his pit stop. But when a caution came out with four laps left, he was out of time to pit and was held a lap for not doing so. As a result Kenseth put eight drivers a lap down at the start of the second segment.

After the race, NASCAR acknowledged it had not foreseen a situation like the one created by Kenseth's failed strategy. But NASCAR's new lower downforce package helped the racing and the result was a pass for the win in the final segment for the first time in a very long time.

"We're going down the right direction," third-place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

NHRA: Doug Kalitta overcame an ill-handling car to take the Kansas Nationals in Topeka, his third consecutive Top Fuel victory. Matt Hagan won in Funny Car, and Jason Line topped Pro Stock.

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