CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced Tuesday a new-and-revised format for the 2017 edition of the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.
This year’s running of the $1 million invitational — featuring Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race winners from the past year, as well as former All-Star Race winners and former Cup Series champions competing full-time on the circuit — includes several changes that pay a nod to the 25th anniversary of the 1992 edition of the All-Star Race, dubbed ‘One Hot Night’.
The new format both rewards winning and incorporates a fascinating strategy component.
— 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 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 field for the final 10-lap stage. All other cars will be eliminated from contention.
— The remaining 10 cars will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. Their exit off pit road determines their starting order for the final stage, and the winner of the final 10-lap stage earns $1 million.
Crew chief strategy has been at a premium throughout the season so far, and that won’t change in the All-Star Race, thanks to a special set of softer tires. Each team will have one set of soft tires available to use at their discretion.
A softer tire provides the car with more grip and, thus, extra speed. But there’s a catch: any 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,” added 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.
Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race berth include 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.
Those who have not earned a spot by the time All-Star weekend rolls around can still lock themselves into the show by either winning a stage of the Monster Energy Open or by winning the Fan Vote.
CREDIT: Charlotte Motor Speedway