RELATED: Official NASCAR release
NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the format for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on Wednesday, leaning heavily on a new rules package to shake up the annual invitational event.
Among the most significant updates are engine restrictor plates to reduce horsepower and revised aerodynamic features — all designed to tighten the competition for the $1 million winner’s prize in the May 19 event (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
It will be the first time restrictor plates are used at the 1.5-mile Charlotte track. The aero package as a whole takes a cue from the rules that drew positive reviews during an Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season.
For the All-Star event, cars will use a splitter borrowed from the 2014 rules package with a 2018 radiator pan, a 6-inch tall spoiler with two ‘ear’ extensions measuring 12 inches wide, and manufacturer-specific air ducts designed to minimize the advantage of lead cars in undisturbed air.
“NASCAR is committed to innovation and will always work to improve the racing product for every series and venue,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The yearly Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is an opportunity to see your favorite drivers compete under a unique and exciting format and rules package. The positive feedback following last year’s Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis gave us the foundation to implement this dynamic package for the All-Star Race. We believe the hard work of the entire industry will provide the best race for our passionate fans.”
That rules package led to a record number of leaders and lead changes for the Xfinity Series at Indianapolis last year. The successful debut prompted series officials to expand its usage this season, adding events at Pocono (June 2) and Michigan (June 9) to its return at Indy (Sept. 8).
The race is scheduled for four stages. Stage 1 is scheduled to end at Lap 30, Stage 2 at Lap 50, Stage 3 at Lap 70, and a final shootout that ends at the Lap 80 distance. Only green-flag laps will count in the final stage. In a new wrinkle to previous formats, NASCAR Overtime rules will be in effect for the end of each stage.
“The All-Star Race has a long history of edginess and innovation. We want to challenge drivers, spark on-track action and create the best show for the fans,” said Marcus Smith, president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. “This race has always been a proving ground for some of the best innovations in our sport, from running under the lights to stage racing and double-file restarts. It’s the perfect opportunity to try something different, and with a 10-lap shootout for a million dollars, expect the unexpected on May 19.”
This year’s distance will be 10 laps longer than the 2017 edition, but will feature a pared-down procedural structure. Unlike previous formats, there will be no mandated pit stops, no choice of alternate tire compounds, no eliminations and no inversions of the running order.
Eligibility for this year’s All-Star field remains largely unchanged. Drivers who have already qualified for an All-Star berth, with their basis for eligibility:
• Monster Energy Series race winners in 2017 and 2018 to date: Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr.
• Former All-Star Race winners who are competing full-time: Jamie McMurray.
• Series champions who are not otherwise eligible: None.
• The three stage winners in the Monster Energy Open qualifying race
• The winner of the fan vote.