All-Star race moves to mid-Summer, with an eligibility rules change, and an extra incentive to the winner

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All-Star race moves to mid-Summer, with an eligibility rules change, and an extra incentive to the winner

Post by crl on Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:28 pm

As the 2012 CRL Modified Division schedule continues to be finalized, the league has announced some major changes to the annual All-Star Race, which will be held at Bowman-Gray Stadium in North Carolina for the next five seasons. The race will be 200 laps in length, and be officially called the Converse All-Star 200.

The first change is where the race falls within the schedule. From its inception in 2004, the race has always been held after the points-paying season. Now, the race will be held after the entire first half of the 2012 season, on Sunday night, July 1. CRL President Josh McCollum explained the need for a date change.

"Interest in the series fizzles out after we're done awarding points," McCollum said at a press briefing at the CRL's headquarters in Charlotte. "So, we thought that the race would draw more interest if it were held right at the midway point of the season."

The second change concerns race eligibility. In the past, the race was only for drivers who finished in the Top 15 in the Drivers' Standings, plus the winner of a last-chance race held two hours before the big event. With the Red Robin Invitational, the league's pole winners-only race, being scrapped after only one running due to negative fan reaction, the league was free to tinker with the All-Star Race format.

All race winners and pole winners from the first half of the season, plus the five highest-ranking drivers in points who have won neither a race nor a pole, will now be eligible for the race. For the 2013 event, the format will change to allow all race and pole winners from the second half of the 2012 season, plus the first half of the 2013 season, to take part. The rest of the field will be filled using the points, if necessary.

The final major change is the incentives to the winner. First place prize money has been increased to $250,000. But that's not all. The winning driver and owner will be awarded one bonus point towards the standings. McCollum says that this particular incentive will make drivers race harder to win.

"One point can do a lot at the end of the season, whether it's for a championship, or a higher finishing place in points, so we expect our competitors to drive hard throughout the night for that victory."

McCollum says the bonus point incentive was inspired by the ARLA Elite Series' preseason event, the Rookie Shootout, which, with its third running this year, began awarding 25 bonus points to the race winner. The first driver to win the Rookie Shootout with this new incentive? Former CRL Modified Division winner Jacob Eichholtz.

The drivers will qualify on Friday night, June 29, to determine the grid. The CRL Developmental Division will run a 150-lap full points-paying race on Saturday night, June 30, as a companion event. This brings the Developmental Division's race total for 2012 to 15.

Another note from the press briefing concerns the race in Australia, which is to be the sixth race of the season and the second in the inaugural CRL Global Cup Presented by FedEx. The race was to be held in Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast, but a disagreement over the course layout has sent the league to the island state of Tasmania, whose Symmons Plains Raceway will hold the round instead.

The 2012 CRL Modified and Developmental Division schedules will be released on Wednesday.

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