CONCORD, N.C. – It’s NASCAR All-Star Race week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and when the exhibition event gets underway under the lights, once again it will feature a new format.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the key facets of this year’s event, which carries a $1,000,000 purse.
1) It will be broken up into four stages. This year’s All-Star Race will feature four segments – the first three of which will span 20 laps apiece followed by a 10-lap sprint to the finish, bringing the total to 70 laps.
2) Only 10 drivers will be left on the track for the final stage. The field will have to earn its spot in the final segment. The winner of each of the first three stages will automatically advance to the fourth stage – as long as they remain on the lead lap at the end of Stage 3. The other seven spots will be filled by the drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages.
3) The 10 finalists 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.
4) Goodyear is providing teams one special set of softer tires to be used at any time throughout the race. The set will provide the car with more grip, and therefore more speed. Crew chiefs will be able to use the set of tires at any time throughout the event, though if they choose to roll the dice and save them for the final sprint to the finish, their driver must start behind competitors that elect to run on regular tires.
“They are going to have a soft tire, which should be interesting to see just how much better that is and whether that is really going to make a big difference versus the guys that are on a hard tire,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick said he doesn’t envy the crew chiefs as they will have to weigh the best time to utilize the advantage.
“I am going to be the Monday morning quarterback – after they make their decisions I will tell them Monday whether they made the right decisions,” Hendrick joked. “I am just glad that I don’t have to make some of the decisions crew chiefs do, because they are generals, they have to decide what compound they want when they want it and then how to strategize for a race like this. “
5) Qualifying for the All-Star Race 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. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 6:05 p.m. ET on Friday, May 19, and it will be broadcast on FOX Sports 1. The five quickest teams will advance to the second round, which will begin at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET.
6) Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Earnhardt are already locked into the event. Chase Elliott has an opportunity to race his way into the All-Star Race by winning one of the three stages in The Open Saturday evening, and he could also advance via fan vote, as he did last season.
“It’s going to be exciting for the fans,” Hendrick said of the All-Star event. “I am excited about the race.”
Check out the paint schemes Hendrick Motorsports will take to the track for All-Star weekend here.