CONCORD, N.C. — Through the lunch hour at Charlotte Motor Speedway, about all we’ve learned about what we can expect from the restrictor plate package that NASCAR is using for the Monster Energy All-Star race is that mother nature seems not to like it. Every time the Cup cars hit the track for practice, it rains.
We’ve had a grand total of five laps of practice through 2pm, and many of the drivers haven’t even gotten up to speed yet. That hasn’t stopped them from commenting about the package and what they expect when the green flag drops in Saturday night’s race, however.
“I am expecting drafting,” nodded Kurt Busch, asked about that subject in a press conference. “I saw the Hendrick cars lined up to go out and draft. There seems like about ten different ways that teams are approaching this right now. Each of our Stewart-Haas teams are going about it differently, with the hope that we can gather enough data to identify the trend. It definitely feels slow. Fans now have three unique tickets at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with the All-Star Race, The Coca Cola 600 and the Roval in the fall.”
“It’s definitely different,” commented Alex Bowman with a smile. “It’s hard to see out the back with the tall spoiler. I was thinking I might as well take the rear-view mirror out.”
Kyle Busch, asked if he could see a possibility of more restrictor plate races in the future, didn’t mince words. “I can see it,” the current series points leader said. “It’s not really what I signed up for as a race car driver, but if that’s what happens then I either need to learn how to get really good at it or learn how to get out of it.”
Brad Keselowski might have had the quotable quote of the day. “I like that they’re trying something. I completely disagree with what they’re trying, but I like that they’re trying something.”
Kevin Harvick was the only driver to reach 170 mph average speed in the abbreviated practice sessions, cracking a lap of 170.406. It is expected there will be one more practice this afternoon, weather-permitting.
Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series had a pair of practice sessions for tonight’s NC Education Lottery 200. Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Noah Gragson were top three in the first practice, while Dalton Sargeant, Ben Rhodes and Justin Haley were fastest in round two.
NASCAR cancelled qualifying for Saturday’s All-Star Open due to the persistent rain showers, so that race will be set by owners points. There has been no decision made yet regarding All-Star Race qualifying.
As of 2pm, there will be one final combined practice for both the qualified and non-qualified All-Star cars, with All-Star pit practice to follow that, if weather allows.
Tonight’s NC Education Lottery 200 will be televised on Fox Sports 1. The race is scheduled to begin at 8:30 eastern time.
PHOTO CREDIT: Chris Murdock