‘Choose rule’ will get test drive at All-Star Race

Chicago Sun-Times - - SPORTS - BY MICHELLE R. MARTINELLI

There are sev­eral ma­jor sto­ry­lines re­lat­ing to NASCAR’s Al­lS­tar Race on Wed­nes­day, rang­ing from the flashy un­der­glow light­ing for the cars to the fact that it’s at Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way in­stead of the tra­di­tional Char­lotte Mo­tor Speed­way.

The ex­hi­bi­tion event with $1 mil­lion on the line for the win­ner also will in­tro­duce the Cup Se­ries to the ‘‘choose rule,’’ which will al­low each driver to se­lect the lane he wants to restart from and adds more strat­egy to the mix.

As NASCAR ex­plained, for the All-Star Race, as ‘‘driv­ers ap­proach a des­ig­nated spot on the track, they must com­mit to the in­side or out­side lane for the restart.’’ It was a big deal last month when NASCAR an­nounced the rule would be tested at this race.

But driver Clint Bowyer has some con­cerns about over­hyp­ing the po­ten­tial im­pact of one rule.

‘‘You hear driv­ers talk about it, and I fear — like I do a lot of times — I don’t want to over­sell it,’’ Bowyer said in a Zoom call Sun­day. ‘‘Can it make an im­pact? Ab­so­lutely. But if you over­sell it, it will never hold up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of what peo­ple are ex­pect­ing out of that.

‘‘For the most part, I don’t see that it prob­a­bly will make a dif­fer­ence past a few rows. I just don’t see peo­ple giv­ing up two or three spots to stay on the out­side. Pos­si­bly if you are on old tires or some­thing like that, that’s where an op­por­tu­nity like that comes in . . . . Can it work? Yes. Do I fear that it’s over­sold? A lit­tle bit.’’

The rule is pop­u­lar in short- and dirt-track races, but it’s new to the Cup Se­ries’ ex­hi­bi­tion event, which of­ten is seen as a way to ex­per­i­ment with dif­fer­ent rules with­out im­ple­ment­ing them in points races.

Un­der NASCAR’s cur­rent restart rules, only the leader can se­lect which lane he wants to restart in. Ev­ery­one else has to line up based on his track po­si­tion at that time. The choose rule opens that up to give driv­ers the op­por­tu­nity to se­lect their pre­ferred lane.

A lot of driv­ers are re­ally into it. Austin Dil­lon ad­vo­cated for it, and Joey Logano joked that if a bunch of 12-year-old rac­ers can fig­ure the rule out, Cup driv­ers can, too.

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