All-Star Qualifying Wide Open

Jeff Gordon

Teams must complete three laps and a four-tire pit stop in qualifying for the All-Star race. (Photo: Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A rule change for Sprint All-Star qualifying has drivers excited about Friday night.

“It’s going to be interesting,’’ Greg Biffle said of eliminating the pit road speed limit during qualifying. “Stay tuned.’’

Teams must complete three laps and a four-tire pit stop in qualifying for the All-Star race. Qualifying for the Sprint Showdown remains the same with the best of two laps setting the field.

“I have to say that is probably one of the most exciting things I’ve ever heard,’’ Biffle said Wednesday of the change. “As a driver, changing things up makes it challenging for us. I know I’m going to be standing there, biting my nails watching all the other drivers do it, let alone my opportunity.’’

David Ragan, who earned a spot in the All-Star race with his Talladega victory earlier this month, also is anxious to see what happens.

“I want to go first so I can stand back and watch everybody else because if you go last you’re going to be over-thinking it,’’ he said.

Biffle and Ragan said drivers will be busy in practice trying to see how fast they can go down pit road and still get into their pit box.

“I’m telling you, there’s a lot of time to be made up between when you start slowing down,’’ said Biffle, who started fourth in last year’s event. “How fast can you get on that apron? How many guys are going to end up on the grass? I promise you guys are going to be in the grass. I may be one of them.

“Practice is going to be crazy. In practice you’re going to go as hard as you can go until you step over that edge or (are) right at it.’’

Because there’s no speed limit on pit road, NASCAR will not allow crews to leave the pit wall until the car comes to a complete stop as a safety measure.

NASCAR President Mike Helton said the change to All-Star qualifying was made to enliven the event.

“It’s been a long time since we had an open speed limit on pit road,’’ Helton said. “We’ll only do that for qualifying for the All-Star race because we can control the environment and it will be very clean down there when it happens. There are very good reasons why we have a pit road speed and we’ll stay onboard with those.

“It’s an opportunity to do something different on a weekend that is known for different stuff.’’

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