Monster Energy Cup Series News (13236)
NASCAR announced the format for its 2017 All-Star race on Tuesday. The annual event will take place on Saturday, May 20 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET. The Motor Racing Network will carry the live radio broadcast.
This year’s format:
The race will feature four stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps), totaling 70 laps, an ode to the 1992 edition of the same distance.
The goal for all competitors: Earn a spot in the final 10-lap, 10-car stage.
The winner of each of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage.
The cars with the best average finish in the first three stages will make up the remaining spots needed to fill the 10-car final stage.
The remaining 10 cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Exit off pit road determines starting order for final stage.
The winner will be awarded $1,000,000.
“The Monster Energy All-Star Race is designed to be fun for fans, showcasing the best drivers and race teams in NASCAR,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “With the effort that Goodyear has put into this race with multiple tire compounds, I am excited to see how the stages play out, especially the final 10-car, 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag.”
There will be an interesting element in this year’s race. Each team will be provided with one set of softer tires. The softer compounds will allow for more grip and faster speeds than teams who elect regular tires. However, if a team decides to use the softer set of tires at the beginning of the final stage, they must start behind all the teams that elect regular tires.
Qualifying will be moved back to Friday night. The format will stay the same as previous years’ format. Teams will be given three laps that feature a no speed limit pit stop. Top five teams at the end of qualifying will advance into the final round to determine starting positions one through five. The fastest stop will earn the pit crew competition award at the end of the night.
Eligibility requirements include drivers who have won a points race in 2016 or 2017, drivers who won a MENCS All-Star race and compete full-time in 2017, or those who won a MENCS championship and compete full-time in 2017. The drivers not already eligible can still get in by winning a stage in the Monster Energy Open or by winning the Fan Vote.
“The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is etched in the history of our sport for the most memorable moments, trend-setting innovation and big-money payouts,” said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This new 70-lap format pays tribute to the 25th anniversary of ‘One Hot Night’ while pushing the drivers to the brink of insanity with the chances they’ll take to win $1 million. I’m as ready as our fans for a May 20 Saturday night shootout where only a daredevil behind the wheel truly has a shot at Victory Lane.”
The Monster Energy Open will be a total of 50 laps. The stage format will be 20/20/10 laps. The winner of each stage will earn a spot into the All-Star event later that evening. Qualifying will consist of two rounds of the traditional knock-out qualifying format.
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
What do you think of this year’s format? Tweet us @SpeedwayDigest or @NASCAR_BRETT. We would love to hear your thoughts!
Race car drivers love grip, and at this year’s Monster Energy All-Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Saturday, May 20), they will have an option to get more of it, at least after one strategic pit stop.
The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company will offer two different tire set-ups for this year’s event – a “Prime” tire combination, which is what Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will run throughout the two weeks at Charlotte, and one set of an “Option” tire combination, which can be used at any point during the four-stage race.
The Option tire set-up utilizes the same speedway construction as the Prime tires, but with tread compounds formulated to provide more traction. The Option set-up is projected to be three- to five-tenths of a second faster per lap, out of the box.
“We’re extremely excited about this format and the ability to bring an Option tire to this year’s All-Star race,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “The more tractive compounds used in this combination of left- and right-side tires will showcase the strategy of the event, and will give teams the ability to choose exactly when to use this set-up to give them the best chance to win.”
Because it features “softer” compounds, the Option set-up should fall-off more than the Prime, and therefore will be used at strategically the right time for each team. That may be for the final 10-lap segment, or perhaps earlier if a team needs to bolster its prospects of transferring into that final stage.
Each team in both the All-Star race and the Monster Energy Open transfer race will receive a practice set of Option tires, so they will be able to tune their car for maximum effect when the time comes to use that set-up in competition.
Two more All-Star rules relating to Goodyear’s Option tires are: (1) once a team decides to use their one race set, they must put on all four tires at once, and (2) any team that uses their set for the final stage must re-start the race behind those teams that are not on the Option tires.
Because these Option tires are a special addition to this year’s All-Star format, they will also carry different color lettering. Instead of Goodyear’s traditional yellow letters – which will remain on the Prime tires – the Option tires will feature bold, green lettering. Being a company that is all about testing its tires for performance purposes, Goodyear analyzed different colors during dynamic testing at 195 mph to determine which stood out best for fans and viewers to be able to see when teams employ this critical strategy move during the race.
Offering different tire combinations is new to NASCAR, but not to Goodyear. The tiremaker has offered Prime and Option tire set-ups during its involvement in Formula 1, IndyCar and other forms of auto racing.
The possibility of running an Option tire set-up in the All-Star race was first brought up between NASCAR and Goodyear last fall. Once NASCAR was able to solidify the race format and potential use for the Option tire, Goodyear got to work on its part of design and manufacturing.
“Bringing this wrinkle to the All-Star race highlights the strength of the relationship between Goodyear and NASCAR,” said Stucker. “Those of us that are involved in this sport try to create the best racing in the world. It’s always a collaboration between NASCAR and all of its stakeholders – Goodyear among them – that brings everything back to the competition on the track and the enjoyment of our fans.”
Goodyear has been involved in NASCAR since 1954, and has been the official tire supplier to its top three series since 1997.
Goodyear Racing PR
As the engines fired, the lightbulbs buzzed – a first for the annual non-points extravaganza. Never before had an all-star race been run under the lights. Dubbed "One Hot Night," the 1992 race signaled a new era, one that became tradition for the fan-favorite event.
And now, 25 years later, past meets present … as another new era begins with the first all-star race under the Monster Energy banner.
NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway today announced the format for the 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race, one that rewards winning, and incorporates a fascinating strategy component.
The race format is as follows:
- - The race will feature four stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps), totaling 70 laps, an ode to the 1992 edition of the same distance.
- - The goal for all competitors: Earn a spot in the final 10-lap, 10-car stage.
- - The winner of each of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage.
- - The cars with the best average finish in the first three stages will make up the remaining spots needed to fill the 10-car final stage.
- - The remaining 10 cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Exit off pit road determines starting order for final stage.
- - The winner will be awarded $1,000,000.
Crew chief strategy has been at a premium throughout this season, and that won’t change in the all-star race thanks to a unique opportunity granted each team: a coveted set of softer tires. Each team will have one set of these tires available to use at their discretion. A softer tire provides the car with more grip and, thus, speed. In other words, it’s a game-changer. But there’s a catch: Teams that choose to put on their softer tires to start the final stage must start behind those that choose regular tires.
"The Monster Energy All-Star Race is designed to be fun for fans, showcasing the best drivers and race teams in NASCAR," said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. "With the effort that Goodyear has put into this race with multiple tire compounds, I am excited to see how the stages play out, especially the final 10-car, 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag."
"The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is etched in the history of our sport for the most memorable moments, trend-setting innovation and big-money payouts," said Marcus Smith, president and general manager of Charlotte Motor Speedway. "This new 70-lap format pays tribute to the 25th anniversary of ‘One Hot Night’ while pushing the drivers to the brink of insanity with the chances they’ll take to win $1 million. I’m as ready as our fans for a May 20 Saturday night shootout where only a daredevil behind the wheel truly has a shot at Victory Lane."
Qualifying for the main event, which returns to Friday night, will again include the wildly popular ‘no speed limit’ four-tire pit stop. Each team will have three timed laps, one of which will include a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no pit-road speed limits enforced. The five quickest teams will advance to the final round of qualifying to determine starting positions one through five. The team that completes the fastest stop will earn the Pit Crew Competition Award.
The Monster Energy Open will occur Saturday evening prior to the Monster Energy All-Star Race and will include three stages (20 laps / 20 Laps / 10 laps). The winner of each stage will earn a spot in the all-star race. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knock-out qualifying.
Those eligible for the Monster Energy All-Star Race include: drivers who won a points event in either 2016 or 2017; drivers who won a Monster Energy All-Star Race and compete full-time; and drivers who won a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete fulltime. Those who have not already earned a spot via the above criteria can still lock-in by winning a stage in the Monster Energy Open or by winning the Fan Vote.
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 and Martin Truex Jr.
Weekend passes for the Monster Energy All-Star Race start at just $79 and include admission to the May 19 N.C. Education Lottery 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, May 20 Justin Moore All-Star pre-race concert presented by Rayovac and Kwikset and the Monster Energy Open. Individual adult tickets for the May 20 Monster Energy All-Star Race start at just $39 and tickets for children 13 and under are just $10. To obtain tickets, camping or race-day upgrades, fans should call 1-800-455-FANS (3267) or shop online at www.CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com.
The Monster Energy All-Star Race and Monster Energy Open will air live on FS1 starting at 6 p.m. ET. The races can also be heard on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
Ryan Blaney showed strength on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway in his No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford. Blaney started the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 in second and took home a 12th-place finish. Despite the result, Blaney dominated most of the race at the 1.5-mile oval.
Kevin Harvick, who started on the pole after being fastest in all three rounds of qualifying on Friday, led the first 15 laps of the race. On lap 16, after a caution that involved three cars, Blaney took the lead on a restart and went on to lead the next 17 laps. He’d go on shuffling in and out from the lead to win stage one of three.
In stage two, Blaney and the No. 21 team led 79 circuits of the 85 laps. After shuffling in and out for the lead, the North Carolina native claimed the second stage victory and earned 10 additional MENCS driver points. With the momentum all throughout the afternoon, it unfortunately wouldn’t continue.
A caution with five laps remaining in stage two of the race forced many teams to make a tough decision of whether to pit. Blaney and the crew decided that they would stay out to try and win the second stage of the event. However, this decision might’ve impacted their day the most.
Pitting after winning stage two, Blaney and the No. 21 crew had a slow stop, causing them to restart 20th for the final stage. They then got backed up because of slower cars and were not able to gain a lot of spots.
“We got jumbled up in [turns one and two] and let a lot of cars get by,” Blaney said after the race. “That was kind of the deciding factor I feel like.”
Despite leading the most laps of any driver and winning both stages, Blaney left Texas Motor Speedway with a 12th-place finish. The driver and crew certainly have momentum as the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend.
“I think it says a lot about this Motorcraft/Quick Lane team about how good a car we had today,” Blaney added. “If you had asked me yesterday I wouldn’t have said we would win two stages and have one of the fastest cars.”
The two stage wins in total gave the team 20 driver points and two playoff points. The total point payout for the team at Texas Motor Speedway totaled 45, which moved Blaney from seventh to sixth in the driver standings.
At Bristol, the young driver holds three starts there. Of those three starts, Blaney’s best finish came there in April of 2016 where he took home an 11th-place finish. His first resulted in a 22nd and a 35th last fall there.
Michael McDowell and Leavine Family Racing (LFR) matched their best finish at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) during the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.
LFR had a fast car all weekend at TMS, and finished the first practice session 2nd fastest. McDowell breezed through the first round of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) qualifying and made it to the second round, just missing the final round by one spot, earning a 13th place starting position.
At the beginning of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, McDowell quickly jumped into the Top-10 where he raced until the competition caution on lap 30 and made it as high as 7th place.
After the competition caution, McDowell got loose on the slick asphalt of the newly repaved TMS surface. He managed to save the No. 95 WRL Chevrolet SS, but dropped back into the Top-25 where he stayed for the remainder of the first stage.
Near the end of stage one, McDowell reported that he was having voltage issues and was losing power. These issues continued into stage two. Fortunately, a caution flag came out before the end of the segment, and the pit crew was able to make a battery change under caution. McDowell earned the Lucky Dog spot during the caution, but went back down a lap due to changing the battery.
During the final stage, McDowell was able to make it back into the Top-25 where he once again fought for the Lucky Dog spot, but was not able to capture it. He went on to cross the start / finish line in 23rd.
“Our car fired off pretty good, and we were able to get in the Top-10 early,” said McDowell. We just weren’t able to hang on. At the end of that first segment, I started losing voltage – it looks like we burned up an alternator. Luckily we were able to get a caution and get a battery in it, but we lost a lap in the process. From that point on, we were just chasing to try to get the Lucky Dog spot. We couldn’t run any of the fans all day, so that makes it harder on the tires, brakes, and gears. We had a fast car all weekend, and we were able to salvage a solid finish.”
Crew Chief, Todd Parrott, echoed his driver’s thoughts and is proud of his team for not giving up and fighting to a solid finish.
“We had a fast hot rod all weekend,” said Parrott. “We had some power issues during the race, but our guys worked extremely hard to get the battery changed and get Michael back out to finish the race.”
A Sunday of frustration for Erik Jones and the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry team resulted in a 22nd-place finish in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
An ill-handling and seemingly unfixable race car, trouble on pit road, tire issues and even a plastic bag stuck to the grille kept the Furniture Row Racing team from the solid result they'd hoped for coming into the seventh race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season.
“There’s really nothing we can take as a positive from this race that we can apply for the next time we’re here other than the need to get better,” said Jones. “We tried everything we could to make the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry to handle better but nothing worked. It was just a very frustrating day for the entire Furniture Row Racing team.”
Jones started the 334-lap race from outside of Row 18 after crashing his primary car in practice and not making a qualifying attempt in his backup car on Friday. The car’s handling was “a handful,” according to Jones, from the beginning though he had moved to 17th by the time NASCAR called for a competition caution after Lap 30. Jones came down pit road for service two laps later. Unfortunately, the car he was following nearly stopped in the middle of pit lane for seemingly no reason and the ensuing contact caused damage to the hood and a hole in the grille of the Furniture Row Racing entry.
Multiple stops under caution provided the opportunity for the pit crew to repair the damage but crew chief Chris Gayle could find no way to adjust the car’s handling to Jones' liking. The Byron, Mich., native finished 20th in the first stage after Lap 85.
Gayle called for right-side tires only during the ensuing stop which moved the No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry to fourth for the restart on Lap 93. The strategic move helped initially but soon Jones was unable to maintain his track position. A plastic bag stuck on the grille on lap 150 but fell off seven laps later. He finished the second stage, after lap 170, again in the 20th position.
A tire beginning to come apart was found after the green-flag stop on Lap 222. Jones did his best to move up in the running order but was able only to pick up two positions and maintain his position from there until the checkered flag waved.
Jones fell one spot, to 14th, in the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series point standings. He is four back of Ryan Newman in 13th and 39 behind Kevin Harvick in 10th.
"It was a frustrating race that forced Erik to have his hands full all day,” said Gayle. "It was one of those days that you hope doesn't happen very often, or really at all, where you just don't know what's wrong with the car, the speed is just off and not consistent enough to race hard. We just struggled. It could have be a little bit of nose damage or something, but we totally missed it."
Martin Truex Jr.’s eighth-place finish in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 was his fourth top-10 of the season and his fifth straight top-10 at Texas Motor Speedway.
But the final result was somewhat disappointing for the Furniture Row Racing driver, who contended for the victory late in the 334-lap race.
When Truex was called to pit road to make a green-flag four tire stop on Lap 273, he was leading the pack with a comfortable margin thanks to 44 consecutive laps led on the repaved 1.5-mile oval.
But a pit-road glitch shoved him back to fourth place. He was unable to get back up front due to restart and short-run problems he encountered throughout the race in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shop/TRACKER Boats Toyota. He lost a few more positions after a Lap 301 caution due once again to restart issues.
“We needed to be better on short runs for sure,” said Truex, who led three times for a total of 49 laps. “It was an up and down race – track position was everything. We had a good car at times and we struggled at times. The track was really, really difficult and the tires were definitely a challenge. It seemed like every time we put a set on, the car was a little different. We weren’t good on restarts and short runs and we’d lose all our track position that took us so long to get. Overall, it was a decent day."
Truex added, “Once (Kevin) Harvick got me out of the pits I used my tires up and then the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) jumped on me and then I was done. That’s the way it goes and that’s the way racing plays out.”
Truex, who started seventh, ran strong in the first stage, finishing second and picking up nine bonus points. He added another bonus point by finishing 10th in the second stage. In the overall driver point standing he remained third after seven races into the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season.
“The guys did a good job with our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry and we changed about everything on the car from yesterday so hats off to them,” said Truex in post-race interviews.
"As soon as I made a pace lap before the race I could feel something was was broken. We had to go into the garage and make repairs before we could even start the race. Man, it just sucks. Everyone knows you'll have days like that over the course of a 38-race season but no one wants that ever. We worked hard the entire race just trying to make up laps and gain positions. The Dow Energy and Water Chevrolet really was fast today, we just didn't get a chance to show it."
- Austin Dillon
Paul Menard Finishes 26th in the No. 27 Dutch Boy/Menards Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway Following Mechanical Issues
"We went into this weekend with the mindset that we have not raced here before. You could say we threw out all the notebooks on Texas. We found speed throughout practice on Friday and Saturday with Matt Borland making good adjustments. Today we just couldn't put it all together. We had a setback when the insulation came off the wiring to our battery and a spark caused the car to lose power. Once we were in the garage, the guys hustled and got us back out on track as quickly as they could. We'll regroup in the off week and come back strong in Bristol."
- Paul Menard
Ryan Newman and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Team Earn 26th-Place Finish at Newly-Repaved Texas Motor Speedway
"Today was just not our day. This new track surface was definitely a challenge and it seemed like we never really got our car to where we wanted it to be. Luke (Lambert, crew chief) and the guys did all they could to try and fix the balance of our No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, but it always seemed like we were just too tight. With the new configuration, Turns 3 and 4 were a struggle to get through without being super tight. I think we definitely learned something for when we come back here in the fall, but overall today was not the finish we wanted. We'll take the off weekend to reset and get ready for Bristol in two weeks."
- Ryan Newman
Martin Truex Jr. led three times for 49 laps and enjoyed a comfortable lead when he came down pit road for fresh tires and fuel on Lap 273 of 334. But a pit road glitch pretty much doomed Truex’s chances of winning Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Truex's No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota fell back and took the checkered flag in eighth place, the fourth top-10 finish of the season for the Furniture Row Racing driver. It was also his fifth-straight top 10 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Erik Jones, Truex’s 20-year-old teammate, had a number of issues as he finished 22nd in his No. 77 5-hour ENERGY Toyota. He not only had to start the race in the rear of the field as a result of crashing his primary car in practice and not making a qualifying attempt in his backup car on Friday, but also had to contend with handling problems, pit road trouble, tire issues and even a plastic bag that got stuck to the car’s grille.
When asked if there was anything he learned from Sunday’s race, the rookie said, “There’s nothing we can really take away and nothing that will apply to our next time here. Just need to get our stuff better and have a better car.”
Truex, who picked up 10 bonus points for finishing second in Stage 1 and 10th in Stage 2, remains third in the overall driver points while Jones ranks 14th.
“It was an up and down race – track position was everything,” said Truex. “We had a good car at times and we struggled at times. The track was really, really difficult and the tires were definitely a challenge. It seemed like every time we put a set on, the car was a little different. We weren’t good on restarts and short runs and we’d lose all our track position that took us so long to get. Overall, it was a decent day, but needed to be better on short runs for sure"
Truex added, “Once (Kevin) Harvick got me out of the pits I used my tires up and then the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) jumped on me and then I was done. That’s the way it goes and that’s the way racing plays out. The guys did a good job with our Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Boats Toyota Camry and we changed about everything on the car from yesterday so hats off to them, they did a good job with it.”