Monster Energy All-Star Race

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson want Cup All-Star Race at Iowa Speedway

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NASCAR has been sending its Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series to Iowa Speedway since 2009, but its premier series has never held a race at the .875-mile track in Newton, Iowa.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Larson would like that to change sooner rather than later.

Stenhouse and Larson spoke to the Des Moines Register ahead of this weekend’s NASCAR races at the track.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver and former Iowa winner expressed enthusiasm at Iowa someday hosting the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

“To see how much support that the Iowa Speedway gets from the fans, it’s pretty incredible,” Stenhouse said. “I’d love to get the All-Star race here.”

The exhibition has been held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year but one since it was introduced in 1985. It was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986.

But with lackluster races and fan turnout in recent years for the event at the 1.5-mile track, support has been growing to possible hold the event at other tracks.

“I would like that better than Charlotte, for sure. … I’d be down for it,” Larson told the newspaper of having the event in Iowa.

Iowa Speedway opened in 2006 and was bought by NASCAR in 2013.

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NASCAR America: Kyle Busch, crew chief discuss their first All-Star Race win

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On a night with a special format and a special tire, Kyle Busch did one of the few things he had yet to accomplish in his NASCAR career.

Busch won his first Cup Series event at Charlotte Motor Speedway with his victory in the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

Afterward Busch and his crew chief, Adam Stevens, talked with NASCAR America in Victory Lane about their $1 million win.

“It means a lot to me and my team to finally win here at Charlotte, to break through to where we wanted to be and where we’ve tried to be for so long,” Busch said.

Busch led all 10 laps of the final segment following a three-wide pass on the restart of Brad Keselowksi and Jimmie Johnson.

“That’s what All-Star Race are made of. That’s what this race was born off of,” Busch said. “Making some daring, bold moves and having them stick.”

Watch the video for the rest of Busch’s comments.

Despite All-Star Race win, Kyle Busch still seeks points-paying Cup win at Charlotte

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Kyle Busch was at the right place and at the right time when he won Saturday’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He won $1 million, earned his first All-Star Race victory and his first in the Cup Series at Charlotte, and it was also the first win of the season for Joe Gibson Racing.

“Finally,” Busch conceded. “I’ve just been trying for here for so long and the right circumstances came our way tonight.”

Unfortunately, though, it was all for naught – or at least for very little. Sure, it heightened Busch’s confidence after several struggles during the first 11 regular season, points paying races.

“Hopefully this is a little bit of momentum, a little bit of wind in our sails, something we can build on for next week,” Adam Stevens, Busch’s crew chief, said after the race.

And it also proved JGR could win a race. But it was also unlike any race in NASCAR Cup this season, just 70 laps in total.

We’ve had such a time this year,” team owner Joe Gibbs said, adding with a laugh, “I told everybody I forgot where winner’s circle was here, it’s been so long since we won a race. It’s a huge deal.

“I would say on this race, this has probably been the hardest race that we’ve run. In 25 years we’ve won twice. That’s it.”

But as such, the All-Star win meant very little in terms of competition potential because Busch and JGR are still both winless this season in points paying races.

And it also means very little in that the next race, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, also at Charlotte Motor Speedway, is the longest race of the regular season.

Ergo, what worked for Busch and JGR Saturday in the All-Star Race, likely won’t even come close to working in the 600.

It’s apples to oranges. Busch knows that as well as anyone.

“What would it mean to win a points race (at Charlotte)?” he said. “It would mean a lot still. It would certainly kind of I guess close the next chapter, as I said a little earlier, about getting that next victory here.  Hopefully we can sweep it.  It would be nice to be added to that list of drivers that have been able to do that.

“We’ve got a little bit of work to do in order to get ourselves in position to be able to do that.  600 miles is a long race. Starts in the day, ends at night. There are a lot of things that can happen in that race.

“Certainly it’s probably a heck of a lot more fun to do it the way Martin Truex did last year. If we have another one of those, it would be a bad thing. Hopefully we can lead the last lap, the one that matters most, and score that points win here.”

Busch’s All-Star Race win was a rarity. It not only was Busch’s first in the annual May exhibition, it also was his first Cup-level win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To say he was expecting to win would be a misnomer, Busch agreed.

I think my move here a few years ago was probably a little bit more crazy when I restarted fourth, got through the middle of the front row,” he said. “I don’t remember what happened after that. I probably wrecked. That’s most times what I do in this race.”

And while Busch wasn’t exactly expecting a win Saturday due to his past history, Gibbs was a bit ahead of himself.

“To tell you the truth, I thought he had won here (in Cup),” Gibbs said of Busch. I’m so used to him winning races. I know this is a huge deal for him.

“I’m telling you, we feel like Kyle can win anywhere. Certainly this year he’s really been in position a bunch, the top five at the end of the races, not been able to win one.”

Now it’s time to put the All-Star Race in the rearview mirror and go from the shortest race in the circuit to the longest: 400 laps for 600 miles around the 1.5-mile track.

“Finally, we’re able to kind of close the chapter on that one,” Busch said of his lack of success in the All-Star Race. “Now it’s time to go get a points win here.”

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‘You never know’: Kyle Larson goes all out to finish second in All-Star Race

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CONCORD, N.C. – A loud roar went out over Charlotte Motor Speedway on the final lap of the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

It was the kind of roar one would expect when a driver makes a bold, edge-of-your-seat maneuver in hopes of winning $1 million.

Even though it wasn’t, Kyle Larson treated it like it was.

Larson was running right on Jimmie Johnson‘s bumper when he dove low on the No. 48 Chevrolet as they neared Turn 3. No part of Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet touched Johnson’s car as he cleared him … for second place.

Just over a second ahead of Larson, Kyle Busch was preparing to take the checkered flag to win the race and the money after his own bold move 10 laps earlier on a restart.

It was the fact that Busch hadn’t crossed the finish line yet that inspired Larson to give Johnson all he had.

“You never know,” Larson said afterward. “You never know what’s going to happen. I just want to be running second if something was to happen.”

Nothing happened. No miracle part failure, tire blow out or empty gas tank improved or worsened Larson’s position.

Which is a positive for Larson after last years’ All-Star Race, where a power move by Joey Logano with two laps to go put Logano in victory lane and Larson in the wall.

“Probably a little more heartbroken last year than this year,” Larson said. “But this year it was nice to be able to watch the (Monster Energy) Open … in my motorhome, then dominate the first two stages.  The third one, we were really good.  Then our issues kind of evolved right there.”

A year after getting into the All-Star Race by winning the Open in a dramatic drag race with Chase Elliott, Larson qualified on the pole for Saturday’s main event. From there, he led every lap in the first two stages for 40 laps total.

The actual unexpected occurrences that shaped Larson’s night happened on pit road.

After the second round, Larson put on his four option tires and would have been first off pit road had it not been for Ryan Blaney and Clint Bowyer taking two tires each. In the general chaos of the restart, Larson wasn’t able to get back to the point position and he finished the stage in third.

On the final visit to pit road, a slow pit stop resulted in Larson being the fifth car to exit.

“I thought initially our pit crew struggled that last stop,” Larson said. “Our jack post on the right side broke off at some point throughout the race.  So the jackman had to make a couple more pumps to get the car up.  It slowed the stop down enough that we got beat off pit road by three cars.”

Nine green flag laps later, the driver who believes he’s the “last true racer” found a way to be put the pressure on a seven-time champion.

Just in case.

“Ten laps is fun and exciting,” Larson said. “It’s just not enough time to make any ground. I was able to start making ground there the last couple laps. Yeah, I slid Jimmie into three there on the last lap. He was a little upset with me after the race.”

On the cool down lap, Johnson stuck a hand out his window, his way of asking Larson “what are you doing?”

It’s only second place.

“No big deal, really,” Larson said. “I always race hard with Jimmie and I expect the same from him. To me, Jimmie is the greatest driver of all time. So anytime I can race hard with him and pass him, even without getting into him, I’m proud of that.”

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NASCAR counters Brad Keselowski comment about ‘made up’ tire rule

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CONCORD, N.C. — Brad Keselowski tweeted after Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race that NASCAR “made up” a rule regarding the use of special soft “option” tires during the exhibition race.

But the rule that kept the No. 2 team from executing its tire strategy and ultimately ended Keselowski’s chances of winning the race was in black and white: it was listed on the race’s entry blank for drivers and teams.

NASCAR told NBC Sports the rule read as, “One (1) set of ‘Soft’ tires will be available for each team to use at their discretion during the Monster Energy All-Star Race. When choosing to put on ‘Soft’ tires it MUST be a full set of ‘Soft’ sticker tires.”

Following the end of the second stage of the exhibition race, Keselowski’s team elected to use its set of option tires for the third 20-lap stage.

According to Team Penske’s post-race report, Keselowski pitted a second time under caution because of loose lug nuts. Crew chief Paul Wolfe then ordered the team to put the “primary” tires back on Keselowski’s car. The team hoped to save the tires for the final 10-lap stage, when Keselowski would have to start from the rear of the field.

But with Keselowski’s laps on the “option” tires, the stickers had been burned off.

Keselowski was forced to run the rest of the event on the primary tires. He finished eighth in the third stage and advanced to the final round. Keselowksi did not pit during the break after the third stage and restarted first. Kyle Busch started behind Keselowski and with fresher tires was able to pass him for the lead on the first lap.

Keselowski finished the night in ninth.