NASCAR travels to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend for the Monster Energy All-Star race Saturday evening.
The All-Star race lineup will feature 20 of NASCAR’S best. Those eligible for the event are drivers who won a points race in 2016 or 2017, past all-star race winners and series champions who compete full-time.
There are currently 16 drivers locked into the race. They include 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, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Three drivers will earn a spot by competing in the Monster Energy Open which is comprised of three stages. The winner of each stage will move on to the All-Star race. The final 20th spot will be determined by the fan vote.
Joey Logano is the defending All-Star race winner and has the sixth-best driver rating (85.3) with an average finish of 7.3. Last year’s win was his first victory in this event where he also has three top fives and five top 10s. Logano is one of 22 different drivers who has won an All-Star race. But did you know that only two drivers, Davey Allison (1991, 1992) and Jimmie Johnson (2012, 2013) have won consecutive All-Star races?
Kyle Busch heads to the All-Star race in Charlotte with the series-best driver rating of 101.9 with three top fives and six top 10s. He leads all active drivers with three poles (2008, 2011, 2012) and has the best average starting position of 5.818 but is still looking for his first All-Star win.
There have been 32 All-Star races but did you know that only 31 have been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway? In 1986 it was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway and was won by Bill Elliott.
Elliott leads the series in All-Star poles with four (1987, 1997, 1998 and 2000) and he is one of only four drivers who has won consecutive poles. Davey Allison won back-to-back poles in 1991 and 1992, Kyle Busch won the 2011 and 2012 poles and Carl Edwards was the most recent, capturing the pole in both 2013 and 2014.
The first All-Star race was held in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But did you know that it was won by Hall of Famer, Darrell Waltrip? He went on to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship the same year. Waltrip, however, was not the only one to win the All-Star race and the championship in the same year. Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013) followed in his footsteps.
Although the All-Star race is a relatively short, exhibition race, winning it has proven to be a unique indicator of which drivers have mastered the 1.5-mile track. Did you know that seven times, seven different drivers, have gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 the following weekend? Those drivers include Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
One of the most memorable All-Star races occurred in 1992 when Davey Allison and Kyle Petty were contending for the win along with Dale Earnhardt who was in the lead. During the closing laps, Petty made contact with Earnhardt, who spun, setting up a battle between Allison and Petty. Allison won the race but the two drivers collided as they crossed the finish line. Allison was knocked unconscious and airlifted to the local hospital but, thankfully, was not seriously injured.
But did you know that Davey Allison is also one of only six drivers with multiple wins in this event? Allison (1991, 1992) Terry Labonte (1988, 1999) and Mark Martin (1998, 2005) have two victories each. Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990 and 1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997 and 2001) have three wins while Jimmie Johnson leads the series with four All-Star wins (2003, 2006, 2012, 2013).
Be sure to tune in at 8 p.m. Saturday, May 20, for the 33rd running of the Monster Energy All-Star race to find out which driver will win bragging rights and the $1 million prize.
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