CONCORD, N.C. – On the 25th anniversary of the NASCAR All-Star Race moving to a nighttime event under the lights, the brand new format for the 2017 edition has been announced.
Even in the non-points event, stage racing will be in play. The All-Star Race will feature four stages, with the first three 20 laps apiece followed by a 10-lap final segment to bring the total to 70 laps.
The 10-lap sprint to the finish will feature just 10 drivers, and the field will have to earn a spot in the final segment.
The winner of each of the first three stages will automatically advance to the fourth stage, provided they remain on the lead lap at the conclusion of stage three.
The other seven spots will be made up of the drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages.
Those final 10 competitors will line up based on average finish, with an opportunity to make a pit stop. The exit order off of pit road will determine the starting order for the green flag for the final stage.
One final wrinkle in this year’s All-Star Race will be one special set of softer tires, which provides the car with more grip -- and speed. Crew chiefs will be able to use the set of tires at any time throughout the event, though if they choose to save them for the final sprint to the finish, their driver must start behind competitors that elect to run on regular tires.
The winner will receive $1,000,000.
Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have already clinched their spots in the All-Star Race. The criteria for eligibility includes drivers who won a points race in 2016 or so far in 2017, full-time drivers who have won an All-Star Race and drivers who have won a NASCAR Cup Series championship.
Chase Elliott will have an opportunity to earn his way into the exhibition event by winning a stage in the Open or winning the Fan Vote.
Saturday, May 20, will bring both the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Open, which will begin at approximately 6 p.m. ET. The Open consists of three stages -- 20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps -- with the winner of each stage earning a spot in the All-Star Race. The Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional qualifying.
Qualifying for the All-Star Race, however, will have an added element. On the night of Friday, May 19, qualifying will require each driver to run three timed laps, one of which must include a four-tire pit stop with no pit-road speed limit.
The five fastest drivers will advance to the final round to determine the front of the pack, and the team with the fastest pit stop will earn the Pit Crew Competition Award.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, said that this year’s All-Star Race is “designed to be fun for fans, showcasing the best drivers and race teams in NASCAR.”
“With the effort that Goodyear has put into this race with multiple tire compounds, I am excited to see how the stages play out,” he continued, “especially the final 10-car, 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag.”
Both the NASCAR All-Star Race and Open will air live on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio starting at 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20.