Saturday’s Sprint All-Star Race offers NASCAR’s top teams to run a race with the same mindset Trevor Bayne and the Wood Brothers adopt each time they come to the race track. It offers Bayne and the crew of the No. 21 Good Sam/Camping World Ford Fusion a chance to show up at the race track with the same security that the top teams enjoy each week.
It might sound confusing, but it’s really not. The All-Star race is a non-points event, allowing drivers and teams to race for the checkered flag without worrying about gaining – or losing – valuable Sprint Cup points. Since Bayne and the Wood Brothers don’t run a full schedule, points aren’t a consideration for them at any event.
Since they run a limited schedule, they’re not among the top 35 in car owner points, meaning they have to qualify on speed every time or they’ll miss the race.
This year’s All-Star race is different for Bayne and the Woods. They are guaranteed a starting spot in the All-Star race because of their victory in the 2011 Daytona 500.
“It’ll be nice to not have to worry about qualifying,” said Donnie Wingo, crew chief of the No. 21 Ford Fusion. “It’s pretty neat to get to run the race, especially after we didn’t get to last year.”
Last May, Bayne and Wingo were planning to run the All-Star race with backing from Good Sam, but Bayne didn’t recover from an illness in time to run the race.
For the All-Star race, Wingo chose the same chassis the team ran at Homestead-Miami Speedway in last year’s season finale and will be that particular car’s first start of 2012.
A rules change by NASCAR, one that raises the side skirts of the car about an inch, means that Bayne, Wingo, and the team will have to make adjustments to the chassis set-up to adapt to the changes, which are intended to take away some downforce from the cars.
“We’ll try some things we haven’t tried this year,” Wingo said. “We’ll go into it with the goal of trying to get some ideas and a direction as far as what we’ll do.”
The All-Star race will consists of five segments – four 20-lappers followed by a pit stop then a 10-lap, all-green-flag run to the checkered flag. Winners of the first four segments will advance to the front of the pack prior to the final pit stop.
Wingo said the big decision for crew chiefs will be what to do on that final stop.
“I think you’ll probably do the least you can on the last stop,” he said.
Qualifying for the All-Star race is set for 6 p.m on Friday and will consist of a three-lap run with a four-tire pit stop. The main events begin Saturday night at 7:30 with the 20-lap Sprint Showdown for non-qualified drivers. The All-Star race is set to start at 9 p.m. with TV coverage on SPEED