Martin Truex Jr. believes current All-Star Race format will be best yet

Todd Warshaw

Martin Truex Jr. participated in a NASCAR conference call on Tuesday where he praised the format for the upcoming Sprint All-Star Race and explained why drivers couldn't take advantage of the rules like Jimmie Johnson did to win the 2012 event.

The Sprint All-Star Race has undergone several format changes over the years but Martin Truex Jr. didn't think NASCAR had the right formula in place until this season.

He believes that the 2013 race will eliminate the sandbagging that marred last year's event and entice drivers to charge to the front for all five segments. The basics of the format remain the same from 2012 -- four segments of 20 laps and a mandatory four-tire pit stop before a final 10 lap shootout.

But the major change for this year is that drivers will enter pit road prior to the final pit stop based on their average finish from the first four segments. That (and the $1 million bonus for winning all five segments) means that we won't see Jimmie Johnson drop to the back after winning the first segment, waiting for the finish, like he had last year.

This is the kind of format Truex has been waiting for since he made his full-time Sprint Cup debut in 2006.

"This year I think the format is good," Truex said during Tuesday's NASCAR media teleconference. "Obviously with the incentive to win all the segments, guys are not going to say, Okay, we're in good shape for the last one, we're going to take it easy and take care of our stuff, make sure we're in that last one.

"I think you're going to see all-out racing all night long, which is a great thing."

That's something Truex didn't believe occurred in the 1990s either, when NASCAR would randomly invert the field before the final segment.

The invert remains popular with fans and generated some of the closest finishes in All-Star Race history but Truex believes teams took advantage of the invert just as Johnson had with last year's format.

"I never really liked (the invert) because you weren't really sure what to do," Truex said. "I think some guys took chances on sandbagging a little bit, hoping they'd invert, let's say, eight, they'd try to finish eighth if they could.

"I think all-out racing -- no invert -- the guys that win start up front is the way to do it."

The Sprint All-Star Race is set to take place on Saturday night at 9 p.m. EST. Do you agree with Truex and what is your favorite All-Star Race format? Tell us in the comments section below.

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