Over the last few years, NASCAR continues to ramp up its efforts toward increasing viewership. One of the latest moves involves notable alterations to the All-Star race format. With that in mind, it didn’t take long for Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr. to voice his disdain toward the changes.
NASCAR announces new format changes for All-Star race
It’s no secret that NASCAR is experiencing a notable decline in audience viewership.
Over the last year, a significant bulk of that has been directly correlated to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, NASCAR continues to attempt to combat that lack of interest by altering its All-Star race format.
The event location has moved to Texas Motor Speedway for the first time on June 13. NASCAR coupled that announcement with the new format layout of the 100-lap exhibition race on the 1.5-mile course.
Several notable changes will be in effect, beginning with the event broken down into six stages. Meanwhile, the field will be inverted before the start of a few of them. The first four rounds consist of 15 laps each, the fifth will be 30 laps, and the last stage being a 10-lap shootout.
The finishing spots of the fifth round set the starting position for the final stage. Meanwhile, the fastest team on pit road during the mandatory pit stop will receive $100,000. Lastly, the winner of the event will earn $1 million.
Not everyone is a fan of the format change, especially Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Angry Dale Earnhardt Jr. blasts new NASCAR All-Star race format: ‘It’s awful’
Since NASCAR announced the new format for the All-Star race, it has drawn plenty of criticism.
The overlying concern lies with the complexity of the rules that complicate the event. During the latest “Ask JR” portion of the Dale Jr. Download, Earnhardt Jr. voiced that he wants NASCAR to return to the previous format with the race held at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“I would go to Charlotte and run the old format,” Earnhardt Jr. said .” I would run it just like that and just do it…Let’s let this race be what is and not try to twist into something else.”
The Charlotte Motor Speedway hosted the event from 1987 through 2019 before NASCAR switched it to Bristol Motor Speedway last year. It isn’t only that aspect that bugs Dale Jr., but the various other elements in the format create confusion.
“I read a little bit about the format for the current one coming up in Texas, and I am lost,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “No clue. I can’t understand how they expect anybody to pay attention to all of that. It’s awful.”
Earnhardt Jr.’s opinion shines a light on what many current drivers may feel. The lack of simplicity to the format could create unnecessary headaches for a race that is supposed to create excitement.
NASCAR hoping latest changes will draw new fans
The pushback aside from Earnhardt Jr. and others, NASCAR is attempting to create another reason for fans to watch.
It isn’t the only professional sports league to venture that route as the NBA, MLB, and NFL have also tinkered with their All-Star event formats. Some changes are more successful than others, but it’s an active push from these associations to gather a more substantial following.
NASCAR’s end goal is to find ways to shine a brighter light on its best drivers. Ultimately, time will tell if the latest changes will help that effort.