With the 2017 running of the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race just weeks away, NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway gathered on Tuesday afternoon to unveil the format for this year’s race, which differs a bit from years past.
This year, the race will consist of 70 laps, broken down into four stages, with the first three stages running 20 laps each and a final 10 lap dash for the $1 million prize.
Winners of the first three stages will automatically advance to the final stage as long as they stay on the lead lap after the completion of the third stage and will be joined by the cars with the best average finish to fill out the field for the 10 car, 10 lap final stage.
The 10 drivers in the final stage will have the option to pit, with the starting order for the final stage based on the order they exit pit road.
New this year is one set of softer tires that teams will have the opportunity to use at any point in the race to give themselves more grip and more speed over their competitors. However, if teams elect to use the softer tires prior to the final stage, they will have to start behind those with 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,” said 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.”
The field of drivers will be made up of winners from 2016 and 2017, past winners of the All-Star Race that still compete full-time, and past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions. As of today the field of currently eligible drivers stands at 15 as 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. have all clinched a spot in the race already.
Those that win their way into the race via a win in the next four races at Bristol, Richmond, Talladega, or Kansas will join the 15 drivers already entered, while the remaining drivers in the garage area will have to race their way into the main event in the Monster Energy Open or via the Fan Vote.
The last chance race, which was moved to Friday night in years past, will once again take place just prior to the All-Star Race on Saturday this year.
Much like the All-Star Race itself, the Open will consist of three stages of 20 laps, 20 laps, and 10 laps each, with the winners of those three stages advancing to the main event later in the evening. The field for the preliminary race will be set by two rounds of traditional knockout qualifying.
While the field for the prelims will use traditional qualifying, the All-Star Race qualifying takes place on Friday night and brings back the popular format of three timed laps and a four-tire pit stop with no speed limit on pit road. This year, the format has been tweaked a bit and the fastest five teams will advance to a second round to set the top-five starting positions. In addition to the All-Star Race pole, the fastest team will also earn the Pit Crew Competition Award.