Race alters format again with shootout

Updated: March 25, 2009, 1:37 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CONCORD, N.C. -- The Sprint All-Star race format has been tweaked once again.

Instead of four 25-lap segments, there will be four segments run in increments of 50, 20, 20 and 10 laps to celebrate the event's 25th anniversary May 16 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

A mandatory four-tire, green-flag pit stop will be held in the first segment after Lap 25. There will be an optional stop between the first and second segments, as well as between the third and fourth. A 10-minute break is scheduled between the third and fourth segments to allow teams to adjust the cars before the no-holds-barred, 10-lap shootout for $1 million.

The shootout is the biggest change, one organizers hope will bring back some of the exciting finishes of past All-Star races.

"It's the way we grew up," Ryan Newman said. "Racing hard and racing fast."

Robin Pemberton, NASCAR's vice president of competition, was all for bringing back the short final segment.

"I think the 10-lap shootout will lead to some exciting racing at the end of the night," Pemberton said. "We want to do what's best for the fans. Every one of the different formats served a purpose at the time. You're moving laps around here and there, but basically it's still 100 laps."

Eligibility for the race remains the same. It will include race winners from the 2008 and 2009 seasons through May 9, and past champions of the All-Star race.

In addition, the top two finishers in a preliminary 40-lap race and the winner of a fan vote will be added to the lineup. Kasey Kahne won last year's race after being voted in.

The format for the race has been changed routinely since it began in 1985. Darrell Waltrip won the inaugural event, a 70-lap shootout with one pit stop. From 1987 to 1989, there were three segments of 75, 50 and 10 laps.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter