Who will win the fan vote to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race? You decide

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The polls are open and waiting for your vote.

It’s time choose your favorite driver to run in next weekend’s 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race takes place May 20th and the single driver that earns the most fan votes will receive an automatic berth in the main event.

Voting is currently taking place.

Fans can vote once per day at NASCAR.com/fanvote, and votes shared on Facebook or Twitter count double. Also, don’t forget to use the hashtags #AllStarRace and #FanVote on social media.

Voting closes May 19 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here’s the list of eligible drivers that are on the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Fan Vote ballot:

AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Trevor Bayne, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chase Elliott, Timmy Hill, Erik Jones, Corey LaJoie, Michael McDowell, Paul Menard, Danica Patrick, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Daniel Suárez and Cole Whitt.

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger involved in 18-car crash with 20 to go in Geico 500

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A large multicar crash occurred with 20 laps left in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

AJ Almmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet, which started the wreck via contact with Chase Elliott, rolled upside down. The crash involved 18 cars.
Allmendinger walked away from the wreck, which forced the race to be red-flagged for 26 minutes and 51 seconds.

The crash began exiting Turn 2 when Allmendinger was drafting with Elliott, whose No. 24 Chevrolet was loose when Allmendinger hit the left-rear bumper.

Elliott turned toward the wall and briefly went airborne.
The accident involved Elliott, Allmendinger, Logano, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, David Ragan, Corey LaJoieBrad KeselowskiGray GauldingMatt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Trevor BayneMichael McDowellAustin Dillon, Danica Patrick, Cole Whitt and Matt DiBenedetto.

Elliott and Jones were eliminated from the race by NASCAR after they continued to drive after the red flag was displayed.

“Just battling for the lead, (Kyle Busch) and (Elliott) were kind of leading the two packs,” Allmendinger told Fox. “(Harvick) was just on me. Once I got to Chase, I got loose. I barely tapped him, and I tried to get off him, but it was too late.”

Chase Elliott: “I don’t know that it was really his fault, per se. I think he had a big run, and he kind of got to my bumper and happened to be in a bad spot, kind of coming up off the corner. Was a skewed a little bit to my left rear. When that happens, it just unloads the cars.”

Austin Dillon: “I just saw somebody come across the field there, and started checking up. I got kind of pushed back into it. It’s just Talladega. It’s part of it. We’re three-wide trying to get as much position as we can.”

Joey Logano: “I don’t really know what happened, but I saw (Elliott) tank slapping down the backstretch. I was hoping he was going to go to the left and go toward the inside, but he came up top.”

Danica Patrick: “NASCAR is always making more and more efforts to make the cars safe, so I’m fine. Definitely wasn’t as big as last years’, that was really, really bad. It’s kind of a bummer to be part of an accident and not even be at the core of the accident. I thought somebody clipped me from behind, but it looks like I came down in front of somebody else. I couldn’t see anything, but my spotter just kept saying ‘go low, go low.’ It’s hard to trust them sometimes, but they can see more than I can right now. I was gradually coming low and obviously, he didn’t see me.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s career best season continues, pit gamble leads to Richmond top five

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When the Toyota Owners 400 started, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. thought he had a top-five caliber car.

Even after a Lap 66 accident that put him in the wall, Stenhouse turned out to be right.

He managed to finish fourth thanks to a pit strategy that kept his No. 17 Ford on the track with five others during the final caution period Sunday at Richmond International Raceway.

Stenhouse’s partners in desperation were Kyle Larson, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex Jr., David Ragan and Cole Whitt.

The strategy wound up only benefiting Stenhouse and Truex, who finished 10th.

Stenhouse’s chance at redemption came thanks to a Ryan Blaney accident on Lap 378.

“I couldn’t run my fastest lap until about Lap 5 or 6,” Stenhouse said. “As soon as that caution came out, I was like, ‘We have to stay (out)’. It worked out for us.”

The Roush Fenway Racing driver earned his second top 10 in two weeks and his second top five of the year. The first, at Phoenix, also came about from pit strategy that kept Stenhouse out of the pits before the final restart.

The big difference between Sunday and the Phoenix race is how much time Stenhouse had to stay ahead of cars on fresh tires.

At Phoenix, Stenhouse only had to make it through a two-lap shootout. In Richmond, he had to endure 19 laps around the .75-mile track.

“I made it a lot of work for us there getting in the fence later in that first stage, and really we were fighting back all day from there,” Stenhouse said. “It was a no‑brainer there to stay out that last caution. I was glad it came out because I thought we missed the opportunity the run before to stay out. It worked out perfect.”

Stenhouse’s result is a career best at Richmond. His previous best in the last eight starts there was 10th in the fall 2013 race. It’s the fourth time in the last six races Stenhouse has earned a career best result at a track. He’s used his performances to rise to 15th in the points standings. In his fifth full Cup season, that’s the highest he’s ever been at this point in a season.

“I think you could say we’ve been a 10th‑place car on the short tracks and gambled some and had some good finishes,” Stenhouse said. “I’ve been finding a lot of success in that even if the car is not perfect, being able to change my adjustments and what I’m doing in the car to get the best out of it. It’s getting that way on (1.5-mile tracks) for sure. We’ve just got to keep building better cars and bringing faster cars to the racetrack and putting the whole weekend together, not making mistakes.”

Stenhouse and the No. 17 team now head to Talladega Superspeedway, where two of his nine Cup Series top fives have come. He finished fifth there last fall after leading six laps.

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Kyle Larson retains Cup points lead leaving Richmond

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Though he finished 14th following a pit strategy gamble near the end of the race, Kyle Larson remains the NASCAR Cup Series points leader following the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway

Larson has a 40-point lead over Martin Truex Jr., an increase of 13 points from last week.

The top five is completed by Chase Elliott (-52), race winner Joey Logano (-65) and Brad Keselowski (-71).

Larson has led the points standings since the fourth race of the year at Phoenix.

Click here to see the full points standings.

NASCAR Stock Market: Who’s up and who’s down from last year

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No Cup driver has had a better turnaround in the last year than Clint Bowyer.

The Stewart-Haas racer is one of five who are 10 or more spots better in the points than they were a year ago. Bowyer, who is ninth in the standings, is 23 spots better than he was at this time last year.

The change is not a surprise. Bowyer was with HScott Motorsports, which ceased operations after last year, and now is with one of the sport’s elite teams.

“There is nothing in this sport at this level that comes easy,’’ Bowyer said earlier this month at Texas Motor Speedway. “It doesn’t matter the racetrack or circumstances, it is always hard because there is always the next guy working every bit as hard to accomplish the same goal. That being said, I knew it would be a positive move.’’

Bowyer has two top-10 finishes, which is one shy his total last season. He also has five top-15 finishes in the first seven Cup races of the season.

On the opposite side, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 20th in points, 14 spots worse than he was at this time a year ago. He is coming off a season-best fifth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway.

Earnhardt’s challenge, in part, has been coming back after missing the last 18 races of last season because of issues related to a concussion.

“I figured we would get one sooner or later, but it’s nice,’’ he said after the Texas race. “I know our fans are really pulling for us. 

Here’s a look at the drivers who have gained the most spots in the points since this time a year ago and the drivers who have fallen the most in the same time.

MOST POSITIONS GAINED

23 — Clint Bowyer (9th in standings this year)

17 — Kyle Larson (1st)

14 — Ryan Blaney (6th)

12 — Chase Elliott (2nd)

11 — Trevor Bayne (12th)

9 — Chris Buescher (27th)

8 — Martin Truex Jr. (3rd)

6 — Ryan Newman (13th)

6 — Cole Whitt (31st)

5 — Brad Keselowski (4th)

5 — Jamie McMurray (8th)

5 — Michael McDowell (28th)

MOST POSITIONS LOST

14 — Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th in standings this year)

11 — Austin Dillon (21st)

10 — Matt Kenseth (22nd)

10 — AJ Allmendinger (25th)

9 — Jimmie Johnson (11th)

8 — Kurt Busch (15th)

8 — Denny Hamlin (16th)

7 — Kevin Harvick (10th)

6 — Kyle Busch (7th)

5 — Paul Menard (26th)

5 — Danica Patrick (29th)

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