It’s almost time for the 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race, one of our favorite events of the season. Unlike a lot of professional sports, this event isn’t about showing up just to show off.
This is hard-edged, checkers-or-wreckers racing that should provide some thrilling action under the lights Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with coverage on FS1 starting at 6 p.m. ET.
This year, there are big changes for the Monster Energy All-Star Race and they ought to be exciting.
Here are eight things you need to know about NASCAR’s annual all-star event.
Getty ImagesBrian Lawdermilk
Given that 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the first all-star race run at night — a/k/a “One Hot Night” —there will be heavy promotion back to the 1992 race, which Davey Allison won but then crashed just after taking the checkered flag just ahead of Kyle Petty.
This year’s all-star event will be 70 laps, same as the ’92 race and down from 110 laps in 2015-16. Three 20-lap segments will be capped off with a 10-lap final segment, where 10 drivers will duke it out, with the winner earning $1 million. The last time this race was only 70 laps was in 2001.
Nigel Kinrade/LAT Photo USA
Making the final stage
The winner of each of the first three stages will advance to the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage. The drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages will form the remainder of the 10-car final stage.
Here’s another big step: Qualifying for the all-star race will be moved back to Friday night, May 19, prior to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. And there will be two rounds of qualifying this time.
In qualifying, drivers will make three timed laps, one of which will include a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no speed limit on pit road. The five quickest teams will advance to the final round of qualifying to determine the top five starting spots. The team that completes the fastest stop will earn the Pit Crew Competition Award.
The Monster Energy Open last-chance race will be Saturday night before 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, as will a fan vote winner. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knock-out qualifying.
Getty ImagesStreeter Lecka
The all-star grid will consist of the following: Drivers who won a points event in 2016 or 2017; past all-star winners and series champions who compete full-time; stage winners in the Monster Energy Open and the Fan Vote winner. All told, 20 drivers will make the all-star race
The following drivers are already locked in to the all-star field: 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, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
LAT PhotographicNigel Kinrade
Last but not least, each time will get one set of softer Goodyear tires for the race, which are expected to be about 2.5 miles per hour per lap faster than the normal tires. These tires will carry green Goodyear logos instead of the traditional yellow. Goodyear is calling the regular tires “Prime” and ones with the green logos “Option.”
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