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NASCAR hopes softer tires return the magic to All-Star race

CONCORD, N.C. (AP) — It’s the 25th anniversary of “One Hot Night,” the All-Star race that made the nighttime spectacular must-see TV.

NASCAR is hoping Saturday’s night running can replicate some of the magic from that 1992 showcase.

That year was the first time the exhibition dash-for-cash was held under the lights at Charlotte. There was a full moon, a raucous crowd of more than 100,000 and a wild ending in which the winner was unconscious when he crossed the finish line. The driver, the late Davey Allison, went to the hospital and his damaged car did not go to victory lane.

Nothing will likely top that race, celebrated recently by Charlotte officials at the track’s prestigious speedway club. Allison was represented by Larry McReynolds, his crew chief at the time.

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“Davey asked me 10 times from the car to the infield care center what happened,” McReynolds recalled. “I kept telling him, and then he would ask me again.”

NASCAR is in need of another memorable night. Why not Saturday? The All-Star race this year has the makings of one they will talk about it for 25 years — if the drivers treat it that way.

NASCAR has some good on-track competition right now, and the $1 million made-for-TV event is a chance to showcase the storylines. There’s a changing of the guard and a youth movement afoot, and some of the older stars need to prove their relevancy. There’s no better stage to just throw it all to the wind than this race that doesn’t matter.

As always, there’s a convoluted format that will lead to one 10-lap shootout for $1 million. This year, only 10 drivers will be allowed to compete in the final sprint.

The big shake-up is a softer tire and Goodyear officials seemed to be pretty excited after a Friday practice session. Stu Grant, Goodyear’s general manager of world-wide racing, thought the “bonus tire” was considerably faster but…

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