Falling All Stars

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A friend of mine, who is not a race fan, decided to watch Saturday night's NEXTEL All-Star Challenge. "A perfect way to see what the fuss is all about with this NASCAR stuff," he said. "Why not watch the sport's all-star race?"

Needless to say, he was not impressed.

Neither was I and in a way I'm embarassed for the sport.

Here's a perfect way to help NASCAR alleviate the scheduling problems and controversy - dump the All-Star Challenge.

Saturday night was a perfect example of why this event has become an unnecessary part of the Nextel Cup Series season. Take away the pre-race excess, glitz and festivities and all you have left is three hours of the most expensive demo derby in racing history.

We keep hearing about the cost of racing and how teams are having a hard time fielding cars to compete full-time on the Nextel Cup circuit. Well, just erase this annual crashfest from the schedule and I'll bet there'll be millions of dollars saved immediately.

I've never been a big fan of this concept. In a sport where we're told every week that each event is an all-star race featuring the best drivers in the world, the challenge is nothing more than a motorized World Wrestling Federation event. Instead of 43 cars, we get 22, one of which gets voted in by fans. And the legions of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fans did their part to vote in the most deserving non-qualifying driver - Martin Truex, Jr. Give me a break!

No, the All-Star Challenge is simply a way to make money, not unlike all of professional sports I guess, but unnecessary. Teams get more money from sponsors to run weird paint schemes, Lowe's Motor Speedway (which does a magnificent job promoting and hosting the event despite the fact that the product is so unsatisfactory) sells more than 160,000 tickets for a meaningless race. It struck me that if only 10 or 20,000 of the fans in the stands Saturday night would have bought a ticket to Rockingham or Darlington last year, neither of those tracks might have lost their Nextel Cup Series dates.

This weekend should have been used to bring a Nextel Cup Series race to a well-deserving track like Nashville or Kentucky.

At the very least, if we're saddled with this yearly bloated "all-star" event, then move it to the Thursday night of next week's Coca-Cola 600 weekend. Give everyone a weekend off and then spend five days in Charlotte.

The trumped-up event is made for TV, obviously. But Saturday night's "showcase" was FOX-TV at its worst. Everything from Pamela Anderson hyping her awful FOX television show to Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond looking sillier than usual hosting the driver introductions and the field invert shuffle showed just how bad the network can be.

My sincere sympathy to all the poor team fabricators out there this morning who are doing their best to salvage what they can from the all-star display we saw on Saturday night. Cheer-up guys, there's almost 364 days until we see that kind of carnage again (wait, we stil have Daytona and Talladega left on the schedule this year. Sorry).

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2005

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