The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Monster Energy All-Star Race, a non-points event. With it being the 25th Anniversary of “One Hot Night”, the first night race on a track bigger than a mile in length, drivers will race under a similar format of 70 laps. The race will be broken into three 20 lap segments with a final 10 lap segment.
However, there are a couple catches when it comes to the final segments. Only 10 drivers will be eligible to compete in the final stage! Who are they? Drivers who win in the first three segments will be able to race in the final segment, if they stay on the lead lap. The remaining seven positions will be filled with drivers who have the best average finish through the three rounds. All these drivers will have the option to pit before the final stage.
The second catch in this race is the use of a “softer” tire. Goodyear will allot only one set of the softer tire to be used at the discretion of the teams. If a team decides to put on the softer tire for the final segment, they will start behind the driver’s who took the normal tire. The softer tire provides more grip on the track, which results in more speed. The “option” tire will be used to call the softer tire, while “prime” will be used for the normal tire. Teams will be allotted for the All-Star race eight sets of primes and two sets of option tires. For Open drivers, they will receive five prime tires and one set of option tires. If the teams transfer, they will receive an additional two sets of prime tires and one set of options. Teams in the All-Star race will have three sets of prime tires and one set of option tires for the event,
The Monster Energy Open will consist three segments: two 20 lap segments and a 10 lap segment. The winner of each of the stages will transfer into the All-Star Race.
Qualifying for the All-Star Race will move to Friday, while the Monster Energy Open will move to Saturday night before the All-Star race. Qualifying for the All-Star race will continue to feature the “no speed limit” four tire pit stop. Teams will take three laps with one of the laps where a pit stop occurs with no speed limit on pit road. The fastest five drivers will move onto a second round where they will do the same thing as the first round. The pit crew that has the quickest time will receive the Pit Crew Competition Award.
Drivers who are in the Open will have two rounds of qualifying. The first round will be 20 minutes long with the fastest eight drivers moving to the second round of only five minutes long.
Who races in the All-Star race? Drivers who won a points event in either 2016 or 2017, drivers who won a Monster Energy Series All-Star Race and compete fulltime, and drivers who won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete full-time are eligible to race.
Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star spot: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Martin Truex Jr.
Following his accident at Kansas Speedway on lap 199, Aric Almirola will be out for the weekend. Regan Smith was announced as the replacement driver for this weekend. The team has yet to announce any additional plans on replacement drivers.
Drivers are excited to return to Charlotte Motor Speedway to kick-off a couple weeks at home and “10 Days of Thunder” with the All-Star event.
“The All-Star Race is always a special one. There’s always a lot of excitement with it as well. I can remember the year that we won the race and just how much fun that was and it’s a win that everyone definitely wants to be a part of. The goal will be to make it into the final ten cars for the last 10-lap Stage in order to go for the win Saturdaynight. I’ve always liked coming to Charlotte because it’s certainly the track that I have the most miles on and the most races at,” says Matt Kenseth. “It’s a great track and one that you always look forward to being there for a couple weeks for in May since it’s a fun few weeks with the All-Star Race and the (Coca-Cola) 600. It’s always exciting to be able to race for a million dollars in the All-Star Race. It’s an honor to be able to compete in that race and I can remember not being in it and having to fight to qualify into it, and it’s always a letdown if you don’t make it into that race.”
“This is the first time we have been locked into the All-Star race. I definitely think the All-Star race will be interesting for all the fans, with NASCAR giving us the softer tire option. Qualifying is unique as well. I remember last year standing on pit-road watching them practice the pit-stop portion with no pit-road speed and that was crazy. We have nothing to lose here besides to go out and win the million,” said Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who locked his spot in the event with his win at Talladega Superspeedway.
"It's definitely going to be an interesting couple of days! Our mile and a half program has been very strong this year, but it will be very tough to race our way into this race because there are still a lot of big teams competing in the Monster Energy Open race. We're definitely hoping to win the All-Star fan vote to secure a spot, and then focus on racing our way in after. Just to be part of this weekend is really cool, and I'm excited to represent the Reddit community throughout it,” said Matt DiBenedetto. DiBenedetto has used social media to promote himself in an effort to receive the fan vote to make the All-Star event.
Teams in the All-Star event will have a two distinct practice sessions on Friday, May 19th. The first practice session will be a normal practice session beginning at
1:00 p.m. EST, and will have a pit stop practice session beginning at 2:10 p.m. EST. Open drivers will have one practice session on May 19th beginning at 3:00 p.m. EST. All-Star qualifying will begin at 7:30 p.m. EST. Open qualifying will be held on Saturday, May 20th at 4:35 p.m. EST. The Open will go green shortly after 6:00 p.m. EST, while the All-Star Race will go green shortly after 8:00 p.m. EST.