Trevor Bayne, Greg Biffle, and Kyle Larson used the Sprint Showdown to run in tonight’s Sprint All Star Race. Chase Elliott and Danica Patrick won the fan vote in order to advance. After being washed out yesterday, today’s Sprint Showdown showed intensity from the drivers to make tonight’s race.
In the first 20 lap segment, Trevor Bayne became the surprise winner upsetting Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney who were running one-two before the final one lap dash, after the caution waved with five laps to go.
In a Ford press release, Bayne stated, “We had a fast race car for no practice and no teammates in the earlier practice. My guys did a great job guessing where we should start at. The car was good in clean air, but in dirty air I just couldn’t go, so with one lap to go all you’ve got is the restart and I kind of treated it like it was for the win for the All-Star Race for a million bucks. You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to get in. I thought that would be our best shot. I got a good restart and off two there was a tiny hole and somehow our car got through it without getting beat up, so we’ll take it.”
When the caution flag flew in the first segment, Kyle Larson and others went ahead and took two tires because they knew that they would have to come down within two laps to take the mandatory two tires between segments. Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott started on the front row, but Blaney was black-flagged for jumping the restart. Bayne and Elliott battled it out on the final lap, leaving Bayne with a margin of victory of .005-seconds. During the segment break, Brian Scott was found to have a loose lug nut following the mandatory lug nut check after the pit stops.
The second segment started with Chase Elliott at the front, but once the segment started, he was tight, which caused him to drop in positions. Austin Dillon took the lead from Elliott. However, a possible tire issue occurred causing him to fall back, giving Biffle the race leader. Biffle was able to set sail to win the second segment.
Greg Biffle, being one of the few drivers to play the four tire strategy, explains the decision that ultimately led for him to win segment two. “Brian Pattie is a very, very smart veteran crew chief in this sport and it was his call. I was skeptical of it, trust me, but I tell you what, what really made the difference was we made a chassis adjustment, two left side tires, the car was really fast the last single lap that we made under green and I was able to pass four cars in one lap. Then we came down and the guys ripped off a great two-tire stop like a lot of other cars did and got us out third. Really, that’s what did it. I was being as aggressive as I could be, and I knew it was 20 laps and I knew that was my chance. The 3 car was a little bit loose and so was I, but I made some adjustments on my driving style and was able to get by him.”
The third segment saw the momentum from Chase Elliott return, a momentum that was lost during the second segment. The last half of the 10-lap third segment saw Larson and Elliott battling for the lead. Coming off of turn four in the final lap, Elliott and Larson were neck and neck heading to the line. In a 2003 Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch at Darlington style, Elliott and Larson were beating and banging, using the wall as the mediator. Larson was able to hold off Elliott to win the third segment.
“I knew (Elliott) was going to be good on four tires and was probably going to win the fan vote, so I knew I had to win because I knew I wasn’t going to win the fan vote,” Larson said. “So, I did what I could do. Hopefully, they can repair the right side good enough or we can pull out the backup — or whatever. "I’m sure Chase is upset with me. He has all the reason in the world to be but hey, tonight we’re going for a million bucks and I’ve never had a chance to do that before. Hopefully we can get this car back in victory lane and hold a big check later.”
Elliott and Larson are allowed to go to a backup car for the Sprint All Star race, according to NASCAR, if they cannot fix their cars.
Qualifying for tonight’s Sprint All Star Race will begin at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.
Persistent rain at the Charlotte Motor Speedway has cancelled today's Sprint Showdown qualifying that was supposed to be set by the first and only practice session. The field will be set by the rule book allowing for Chase Elliott to be on the pole for tonight's event
NASCAR still hope and believes that tonight's race, beginning at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network, will run in its entirety.
If tonight's Sprint Showdown is cancelled, the race will run at 11 am on Saturday, airing on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network. If the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race is postponed, the Sprint Showdown will run before the Truck race at 11.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will compete in the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint All-Star Race at the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway to kick of “10 Days of Thunder” in the Charlotte, NC area. This year’s edition of the race will feature a new format and new rules package for the teams. The Sprint Showdown will be run on Friday evening before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, North Carolina Education Lottery 200, whereas the All Star race will be run on Saturday evening. Drivers will be striving to compete for $1 million and bragging rights among the teams located in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area.
25 drivers will compete in the Sprint Showdown, and 20 drivers will compete in the Sprint All Star Race. Segment winners in the Sprint Showdown, who will no longer have to race in the showdown, will automatically transfer into the race on Saturday. The Sprint All Star Race field will consist of those drivers who won a points race in 2015 and thus far in 2016, as well as previous All-Star race winners, and former series champions.
With help from the drivers, the Sprint Showdown and All Star race will feature a format agreed on by the drivers to help draw the fans attention to this prestigious event. The Sprint Showdown will be two 20 lap segments followed by a final 10 lap dash to the finish. The starting order for the showdown will by practice speeds. The lineup for the second and third segment will be set by pit road order following a mandatory pit stop of a minimum of two tires.
For the All Star race, two 50 lap segments and a final segment of 13 laps. The starting order for the first segment will be set by qualifying, that will include a no speed limit pit road and pit stop, a staple for this race. Segment one will include a mandatory green flag pit stop at any point during this segment with a two tires minimum. At the end of segment one, a three to five-minute break will take place where all cars are required to pit and take a minimum of two tires. Segment Two will be set by the order coming off of pit road. Another mandatory green flag pit stop must occur like segment one, but this has to be done before lap 85. After segment two ends, a three to five-minute break will happen. During the break between segment two and three a random draw will occur. Either numbers nine, 10, and 11 will be drawn during this break. Whatever number is drawn will help determine whether the top nine, top 10, or top 11 will be required to pit for a mandatory four tire stop. Pit road will be closed to the other cars during this time. Those with older tires will be in the front, and those who had to pit will be required to race their way to the front during the final 13 lap segment. Only green-flag laps will count in the third segment, as well as NASCAR Overtime rules.
Although this event features a new format, it will also feature a change in the aerodynamics of the car. In addition to the 2016 low downforce package, NASCAR has announced changes to take more downforce off the cars. The first change has to deal with the cooling fans under the car. Teams used the fans to create more downforce for the car. This change was used to help take off downforce and reduce the cost. The second change to the aero package for this race deals with rear tow alignment. This adjustment will decrease the skew to zero degrees in the cars’ setup. This change is expected to help reduce corner speed and the side force on the cars.
Goodyear will be bringing the “Support Our Troops” Speedway radials to this weekends event in Charlotte, which will feature a new tire setup for more grip. Teams in the All-Star race will be granted 11 sets for the weekend. Teams in the Sprint Showdown will have seven sets of tires, where if a driver transfers to the All-Star event, they will receive four additional sets. The left side tires have a recommended PSI of 25. The right front tire has a recommended PSI of 54, while the right rear has a recommended PSI of 50. The left side tire code contains more grip due to a tire compound change. The right side tire codes will be a single tread compound that offers more grip as well.
In this week’s press releases, drivers are excited to begin a two-week homestand as they race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Martin Truex Jr., driver of the no. 78 Toyota, talks about what racing at Charlotte means to him. “These two weeks feel special, no question about that. We’re home, I get to sleep on my Denver Mattress and we’re racing for a lot of money and prestige,” said Truex. He added, “Charlotte is such a fast racetrack, a fun track with plenty of character. In order to be successful at Charlotte you have to have a great car and drive your butt off. The asphalt is one of the most challenging surfaces since they paved it a few years ago. It’s just something about that asphalt that is different from any place we go to. When you have a fast car it’s a cool place to race, but there are challenges at Charlotte, especially how bumpy it has become in turns one and two the past two years”
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the no. 47 Chevy, talks about what it means to race into the All-Star Race. “The day goes so quick. Obviously, where we are at right now we are going to have to race our way in. It’s a place that we can go try a couple of small things and more than anything just see if it’s the right direction going into the Coca-Cola 600. There’s not really a lot that you can go test there. It’s definitely a race that you want to show up at and have good speed in the car. If you have good speed, then there’s no reason you shouldn’t come back with the 600 car and have the same type of speed. That’s what I look at going into that race.”
Tony Stewart, driver of the no. 14 Chevy, will compete in his final Sprint All-Star race. He talks about what winning this race means. “Well, the greatest thing about it is, if you win the thing from a car owner’s standpoint, which I now know very well, it’s a great way to pay bills. It helps that out quite a bit. This weekend’s a fun event. It’s not a typical Cup race, by any means. The format is strictly set up for an exciting finish for the fans. It’s cool. It’s a big deal when we come to Charlotte and it’s not because of anything more than the fact that the guys who work at the shop every day and don’t get a chance to go to the racetrack, they get a chance to go to Charlotte. They get to come see their racecars that they work on during the week. Instead of just watching them on TV, they get to be there, they get to see what the road crews are doing, and they get to be there first-hand. And that’s a big sense of pride if you have a good night. And to be able to celebrate with guys who never get to go to the track, if you can win a race at Charlotte, it’s big. This weekend, we’re racing for $1 million. That’s definitely nothing to pass off lightly.”
Aric Almirola, driver of the no. 43 Ford, talks about racing into the race on Saturday. "It's always fun racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. We would have liked to already qualify for the Sprint All-Star Race with a win, but the Showdown is a great opportunity for our team to show the fans and our competitors in the garage what we can do. Being able to race our way in would be great momentum for our team going into both the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 the next weekend. I've run well in the Showdown in the past, so I feel confident that our team can get there and we race under the lights on Saturday night."
Kyle Busch, who will drive the no. 75 Toyota in honor of M&M’s 75th anniversary, talks about his expectations for the new format and aero rules this weekend. “I’m looking forward to it. This is always a pretty cool race and it has good atmosphere around it. The crowd gets jacked up and, of course, there is nothing important on the line besides a million bucks. You just go out there and race as hard as you can. You get some practice runs in, get some good practice in and make sure your car feels good to you. And you try to work on your speed, of course, as best you can. Qualifying – that’s certainly going to be interesting again this year. I think, all in all, it’s a fun event. We always enjoy coming to Charlotte and getting these two weeks – with the All-Star Race one of the shortest and most fun events, and then the Coca-Cola 600 with the longest event. It’s kind of two different ends of the spectrum at Charlotte and we’re hoping to finally get a win in the Sprint Cup car with our M&M’S Camry at least once over the next two weekends there”
Action from the Charlotte Motor Speedway will begin on Friday, May 20 for Sprint Showdown first and only practice at 1:30 pm EST on Fox Sports 1.
Friday, May 20
1:30 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint Showdown final practice, FS1
3 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race final practice, FS1
7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Sprint Showdown, FS1
Saturday, May 21
7 p.m., NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying, FS1
8:30 p.m., NASCAR RaceDay - All-Star, FS1
9 p.m., NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, FS1
The NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity, and Camping World Truck Series completed a triple-header weekend at the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400 Drive for Autism, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 200, and the Jacob Companies 200. Here are five takeways from this past weekend in the first state:
- TV: Fox Sports 1 was home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, while the NASCAR Xfinity Series was on FOX. The Verizon IndyCar Series was on for the same time slot at the NASCAR Xfinity race. Was the plan to try to compete with IndyCar and ABC? What was wrong with the 12 pm Eastern start times for the Xfinity Dash4Cash Heats? These are the questions to be answered. The XFINITY Series, however, did beat out the .8 TV ratings with IndyCar with a 1.1.
- Matt Kenseth: Lady Luck has finally turned her ear of bad luck away from Kenseth, who scored his first win of the season. This win makes for all four Joe Gibbs Racing teams to be in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. It will be interesting to see how many more wins Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing can receive.
- Dover: In general, this was probably one of the best races at Dover in awhile. When I am watching a race, I want to be surprised by who won. I want to be able to not know who will win. As always, you should not change the channel because you should expect the unexpected when it comes to live sports.
- Young Guns: It was amazing to watch Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, and Kyle Larson all have the chance to battle for the lead. It was refreshing to see new names at the top of the leaderboard on Sunday. If they are the future of NASCAR, then the future is bright for NASCAR.
- Restarts: The racing events at Dover in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series had its fair share of restart issues. In Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race, Cole Custer was penalized for jumping the restart. On Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, Elliott Sadler was penalized because he was being “pushed” on the restart and beat the leader to the line. Restarts seem so 2015, but they still continue to be an issue in 2016 among rookies and veterans. Hopefully, drivers will be able to control the starts/restarts better.
What are your takeaways from this past weekend’s events at Dover International Speedway?