Ahh I always look forward to the All-Star race- who doesn’t? It’s time for the drivers to just drive. No points- it’s purely for the cash at the end of the day. For those who are not in the know – the 2017 All-Star Race format has changed (which is no surprise- they seem to tweak this on a yearly basis).
How The All-Star Race Will Work
Four stages for a total of 70 laps. The first three stages are twenty laps a piece. The last stage is a 10 lap shoot out that only 10 cars will race in (whot? I know we will get to that in a second).
The winner of each of the first three stages is guaranteed a spot in the final stage provided they are on the lead lap at the end of stage 3. The rest of the final stage (7 additional cars unless the same car wins multiple stages) will be filled by 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 again providing they are on the lead lap at the end of stage 3.
The final 10 car field will be lined up by average finish of the first three stages and given the option to pit. If they pit and how they come off of pit road WILL effect how they start the final stage. The winner of the final stage gets the $1 million dollar race purse.
How A Driver Qualifies For The All-Star Race
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 full-time are the drivers who are automatically All-Star Race eligible.
These drivers will qualify for the All-Star Race on Friday in a knockout qualifying structure similar to what they already do in cup races except that it will include 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.
Drivers who do not qualify based on wins can compete in the Monster Energy Open in hopes of gaining a spot in the race. The Monster Energy Open will have 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.
There will also be a fan vote spot filled by a driver who does not qualify either based on wins or competing in the Monster Energy Open.
Shwew- got all that? So that said these are the drivers who are currently qualified for the Monster Energy All-Star Race: 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.
A New Strategic Twist
In a nod to open-wheel, the All-Star race will feature a strategic twist totally in the hands of the team- two tire compounds. Teams will have regular tires and one set of “softer” tires. These softer tires are allowed to be used at any point of the race at the discretion of the team. Why are these softer tires so special? Because softer tires mean more grip (aka speed). So what’s the big twist? Teams who choose to put their softer tires on for the last stage of the race must start behind cars who are using regular tires in the last stage of the race. Ahh the different strategies I can only imagine the teams are cooking up with this twist.
Seems to me that the two tire compounds have a bunch of people’s knickers in a twist. I kind of like it personally. I think it puts some strategy and game play on the board and I look forward to watching how it all plays out – especially since it’s not for points. Just my opinion…and yes I know everyone’s got one. The think that has MY knickers in a twist about this new format is that if you aren’t one of the ten drivers in the final stage- your day is done. That kind of stinks for fans of these drivers. Better drive your butt off in the first three stages!
So what are your thoughts on the Monster Energy All-Star Race (I am still getting use to typing out Monster instead of Sprint).
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