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NASCAR to use All-Star race for research, development again

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Kyle Busch waits in his car before practice Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. [AP Photo/Chuck Burton]
Kyle Busch waits in his car before practice Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. [AP Photo/Chuck Burton]

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR's All-Star race has arrived, and so has the tinkering of the cars.

NASCAR is using the $1 million non-points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway as a research and development project in its seemingly endless quest for more competitive and exciting racing. The 2019 rules package was first experimented with in last year's All-Star race.

The 19 cars in the field Saturday night will be equipped with a single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan designed to create a more stable aero platform. A radiator duct through the hood is designed to reduce engine temperatures, and the overriding goal is to create better racing and find a usable setup package for when NASCAR rolls out its Gen 7 car in 2021.

"I'm thrilled that NASCAR and the teams have gotten behind this idea that the All-Star race is a great place to do research and development for the next rules package in the coming years," Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith said.

Drivers are rarely excited about change, but understand it is a necessary evil to improve the sport.

Defending race winner Kevin Harvick said the All-Star race at Charlotte is one of the best tracks for experimenting with new setups because all drivers are going as hard as they can for the first-place prize.

"It's a race that we can try some things like that," Harvick said. "I wish we would have had a little bit more on-track time with the parts and pieces that we have on the car and had a little bit more information on them. We had a lot of questions that got answered in practice."

NASCAR used restrictor plates — the choking gadgets designed to limit horsepower — at the 2018 All-Star race to slow down the cars and create less pack racing.

The results were mixed.

There were 38 green-flag passes — a dramatic improvement from previous All-Star races — but the race still ended without the exciting finish NASCAR desired. Harvick dominated the final 10 laps, taking some of the luster out of the experiment.

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SATURDAY'S RACES

NASCAR Open: 5 p.m.

NASCAR All-Star race: 7 p.m.

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, N.C.

TV: FS1 (Cox 67/HD 728, Dish 150, DirecTV 219, U-verse 652-1652)

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