RELATED: Full practice results
Chip Ganassi Racing driver and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Kyle Larson was quickest in the only practice session for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race. Larson vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with a fast lap of 189.274 mph at Charlotte Motor Speedway after putting on his softer set of “option” Goodyear tires.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick was second at 189.095 mph, followed by Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski (188.976 mph), Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch (188.594 mph) and Furniture Row Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (188.232 mph). Sixteen cars, all of which have already qualified for the All-Star Race, logged laps in practice.
Teams could use both the “prime” tires and the “option” tires during practice. Remember, each team will get one set of “option” tires — with green lettering — to use at any point during the race. The option tires have more grip and speed, but fall-off quicker … and if you take them before the final segment, you must start from the rear.
RELATED: All-Star FAQs
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the first driver to give the option tires a go, and he immediately jumped from 10th on the leaderboard to third. The lead changed hands several times throughout the 70-minute session as drivers opted to use their prime tires.
It sets the stage for an All-Star Race that will have an emphasis on strategy and racing action.
The session tacked on an extra 15 minutes so teams could practice for the ever-popular no-speed-limit, four-tire pit stop in advance of Friday evening’s qualifying. The top five quickest teams in the first round of qualifying (6:05 p.m. ET, FS1) will advance to the ensuing final round, which follows immediately.
Denny Hamlin brought out the caution during this period when he hit the outside wall hard coming out of Turn 3. His No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team immediately called for the backup car.
RELATED: Hamlin hits wall hard in practice
Next up is practice for the Monster Energy Open — the event that precedes the Monster Energy All-Star Race, comprised of drivers who have not qualified for the All-Star event — from 3-4:25 p.m. ET (FS1). The Camping World Truck Series qualifies at 4:45 p.m. ET (FS1), followed by All-Star Race qualifying and then the Truck Series race at 8:30 p.m. ET (FS1).
The Monster Energy All-Star Race is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Saturday (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).