All-Star Checkered and Black Flags
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on May 23, 2016 | 9:29 A.M. EST
Joey Logano took the checkered flag for the first time in the Sprint All-Star Race. (Photo: Getty Images)
Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway generated a great deal of discussion, both good and bad.
Any driver that can win $1 million deserves accolades and Logano was the man of the hour on Saturday night. He battled in the final segment to get the top spot and once he wrestled it away, there was no stopping the Team Penske driver.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver has been the show the last two weeks. After coming up just short of winning his first career Sprint Cup Series race at Dover, Larson roared into Charlotte and put on stirring drives in both the Sprint Showdown and the main event. The talented Larson appears to be on the brink of finding Victory Lane.
Saturday's preliminary was a thrilling affair that featured great racing in all three segments. A key was the simplicity of the format. All drivers had to do was what they do best - drive to the front of the field, try to win and make it to the All-Star Race. It did not disappoint.
The Sprint Cup Series won't run the exact rules package that was in place for the All-Star Race. But if the racing is anywhere close to what was on display Saturday, next weekend's Coca-Cola 600 should provide some entertainment. Goodyear's tires seemed to be the right fit for the lower-downforce package, which is reason for optimism.
You have to admire Stewart for speaking his mind right down to the bitter end. He was one of the drivers that weren't enamored with the format and changes for this year's All-Star Race, and had no trouble expressing himself. Love him or hate him, "Smoke" has no problem expressing himself.
Trying to find the right chemistry to put together an entertaining All-Star Race is admirable. But this was not it. On a night when drivers, crew chiefs, media members and NASCAR officials were confused, this year's All-Star Race will be remembered for its confusion and chaos.
Friday night's schedule was washed out, making for a very long day and night Saturday. The Sprint Showdown and Camping World Truck Series race went off without a hitch, with actual sunshine surrounding CMS. More wet weather came in just before the start of the All-Star Race and pushed an already-late scheduled start time further into the night.
Wrong place, wrong time for Kahne, who got collected in one of the night's biggest pileups that also involved Stewart. It's been a rough stretch for Kahne and it keeps getting more challenging.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was also swept up in the multi-car accident. It came after Kenseth was involved in the night's biggest controversy when he didn't pit in the first segment and was penalized. That triggered much confusion and discussion, to say the least.
A victim of circumstances. He wasn't able to race his way into the All-Star Race from the Showdown and came up short of winning the fan vote thanks mainly to Danica Patrick once again punching that ticket into the race.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.
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