Geoff’s Journal: What it’s like to win the All-Star Race


By Geoff Bodine
May 20, 2017

There’s no other race in NASCAR like the All-Star race.

All professional sports have their special games, but there are so many players on each team. There’s a lot of people to keep track of.

In NASCAR, there’s only 40 drivers and teams. If you’re a race fan, you know the drivers.

INCENTIVE
The All-Star Race isn’t a normal event, it’s special.

There’s a lot of money on the line. When I won the race in 1994, the grand prize was $250,000... now, it’s $1 million. That’s impressive.

People know that drivers are going to go crazy to try and win that prize. I know we did with $250,000.

You’ve got drivers that people are more familiar with, more money on the line, you know there’s going to be a lot of action.

Plus, what makes this race more interesting is the length. Most races are a few hundred laps, but the All-Star race is 70 this year. With the four segments, it becomes a race within the race.

These are short little spurt races, so the fans know, the racing will be better. Of course, at the end, it’s really short. It’s a great format.

THE PRESTIGE
As a driver, it was a big deal to be a part of the All-Star race field. If you were in the race, you knew you were a winner. The team also loved the spotlight.

It’s like a production, especially the intros with the crew guys. One year, when I wasn’t racing, I was out on the track watching the intros for the drivers and teams.

I can’t remember what team he worked for, but one of the team members decided he was going to jump out into the crowd and crowd surf.

Guess what? No one caught him. He got up like everything was okay, but he had to have injured himself.

It just goes to show, you never know what’s going to happen during intros, qualifying, or the segments, but you know it’s going to be exciting.

WINNING THE RACE
I had run the race driving for Rick Hendrick, Junior Johnson and Bud Moore, but I won the race for the first time as an owner-driver in 1994.

It was unbelievable to have that as our first victory after taking over the team. I got to do the polish victory lap in tribute to the late Alan Kulwicki.

I got spun in the first segment, bent the fender brace in, but the crew fixed it and we won the second segment.

Running on Hoosier tires, we knew the car was going to be fast.

I got shuffled from the lead to third on the restart with 10 laps to go, but in a few laps, I regained the lead. I heard a lot of people bet on us that weekend in Vegas, so I’m sure we made a lot of people happy.

All wins in NASCAR are special, but the All-Star win is in my top-three.

THIS WEEKEND
There’s no points on the line, just pride and money.

You never know what to expect, but there will be a lot of drama and excitement.

It’s do or die for the drivers in the Open, they’ve got to run hard and race hard. There are so many good drivers in that field.

And who’s my pick to win? No idea. I don’t like to predict, because there are too many moving parts. DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

IMAGES
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Dante Ricci/The Racing Experts
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