All-Star Race changes revealed

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Monster Energy All-Star Race will feature a simplified format that will include a new package with restrictor plate on the cars.

Among the changes:

# Cars will have a restrictor plate, making the first time they will be used at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A 7/8-inch restrictor plate will be used. It’s the same that is used at Daytona and Talladega. Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, estimated the restrictor plate will reduce horsepower by 400. He estimates that should put lap speeds in the 170s. Denny Hamlin won the pole for the last fall’s race at Charlotte with a lap of 191.598 mph. O’Donnell said he thought the difference with this package would be about 15 mph.

# Cars also will have aero ducts. These will be used to push air from the front of the car through the front wheel well to create a bigger wake behind the car. That is intended to allow a car following to close at an easier rate.

# The rear spoiler will be 6 inches high and have two 12-inch ears on either side. Also to create a larger wake of air to allow trailing cars to close.

# Cars will have a 2014-style splitter. O’Donnell said this was done to balance the front of the car with the changes made to the rear spoiler.

The aero package is similar to what Xfinity teams used in last year’s race at Indianapolis and will use again this year at Indianapolis, Michigan and Pocono.

The race format will be:

# The race will be four stages for a total of 80 laps — an increase of 10 laps from last year’s event. The opening stage will be 30 laps, the next two stages will be 20 laps each and the final stage is 10 laps. The race must end under green.

# Each stage cannot end under caution, creating the possibility of overtime for each stage and not just the end of the race.

# No mandatory pit stop requirements.

“I think it’s a good, courageous opportunity, and I’m glad NASCAR is going in this direction,’’ NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. said on NASCAR America. “I didn’t believe that we’d ever see the day where we had the industry thinking we really needed to increase drag on the car a big degree. I didn’t think we’d have a movement within the industry where we were going to remove power. This is not the final version. This is only cracking the door open and looking in the right areas.

“I believe this direction could be a game change for particularly the mile-and-a-half race tracks. What I believe could happen down the road is we’ll see other renditions of this, we’ll eventually maybe get a smaller engine, that’s an open motor with more throttle response, they can put gear back in the cars, get the drivers to feel like they can drive the car off the corner. This could lead NASCAR in a very, very critical direction that’s going to improve this sport over a long period of time.”

O’Donnell said it is NASCAR’s hope to see how these changes work and look to apply them at other tracks in 2019 or later.

“I think it’s important to look at this as directionally is this something we want to pursue as a whole from an intermediate track standpoint,” O’Donnell said. “We believe we know how that will affect Indianapolis, Michigan and Pocono. How would that affect Charlotte? What can we learn.

“It’s more what can we learn from this and build upon it. If there are some different things we have to do for individual tracks, we would. Ideal situation is we all stumble upon something that this is the package for the intermediate track.”

One of the differences with Charlotte is that its straightaways are not as long as those at Indianapolis. One of the benefits of the package to the car at Indy for the Xfinity Series was the chance to draft on those straights. So how does that work for Charlotte, a track that is 1 mile less than Indy?

“I think when you look at it, directionally, you want to look at the ability, if I’m three or four cars together, can I catch the leader, am I faster with that group and we believe the answer is yes,” O’Donnell said. “Then when you look going into the corners, would you be in a pack? Don’t know. But it opens the ability when you’re going 205 into the corner versus 170 (with the new package), that opens up high grove in Charlotte, low groove and you’re going to feel more comfortable going in two or three wide.”

The All-Star field will include Cup winners in 2017 and 2018; former all-star race winners who are competing full-time; Cup champions who are competing full-time; the winner of each of the three stages of the Monster Energy Open; and the winner of the 2018 Fan Vote.

Seventeen drivers are eligible for the All-Star Race at this point. They are: 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, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr.

The All-Star Race is May 19 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Monster Energy Open will be held before the All-Star Race. The Open will be three stages. The first two stages will be 20 laps each. The final stage will be 10 laps. Each stage winner advances.

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NASCAR America: Scan All from Michigan International Speedway

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It was another Cup race and another win for Kevin Harvick Sunday at Michigan International Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver scored his series leading seventh win of the season after sweeping each stage.

Relive the race with the latest edition of Scan All from NASCAR America.

Here are some highlights.

Watch the above video for more.

PRN reporter Wendy Venturini to return at Bristol, still recovering from injuries

Wendy Venturini
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Wendy Venturini will return to her duties at the Performance Racing Network this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, almost two months after being struck by a car while running in Novato, California.

Venturini made the announcement in a surprise appearance Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint.”

She had been in California to be a pit reporter for PRN’s radio broadcast of the Cup race at Sonoma Raceway.

Among the injuries Venturini suffered in the incident were a skull fracture and a concussion.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Venturini said of the upcoming race weekend. “It’s been a long two months and I’m not 100 percent, but I’m getting closer and closer and this is step back into real life and real world stuff. So I think it will help in my recovery.”

Venturini is still wearing a knee brace.

“I’m still pretty slow these days, but it’s good,” Venturini said. “I will have a brace on at the race track in a controlled circumstance. I can take it off at night, at home. … It’s healing. My LCL is healing, my brain is healing, my skull is healing. Everything’s taking progress.”

Venturini became the first female to serve as a co-anchor for a NASCAR Cup race in September 2014 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. She also has served as a booth analyst for PRN broadcasts this season.

Venturini became the first female broadcaster to call an entire race on a national level during the July 2007 Cup race at Sonoma Raceway for DirecTV. She also has reported on NASCAR for Speed Channel and Fox Sports 1.

GMS Racing reveals Bill Elliott’s Road America scheme

Daniel McFadin
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two weeks ago GMS Racing shocked the NASCAR community when it announced Bill Elliott would drive its No. 23 Chevrolet in the Aug. 25 Xfinity race at Road America.

The Hall of Famer’s unexpected return to NASCAR competition became a little bit more real Tuesday when he and GMS Racing unveiled his throwback paint scheme for the race at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Photo: Daniel McFadin

The paint scheme is inspired by the No. 11 Budweiser Ford that Elliott drove to his win in the 1994 Southern 500 while racing for Junior Johnson. That win would be his last until November 2001 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Elliott’s trophy and the checkered flag from the 1994 win were also on hand. The inspiration for the scheme is also on display in the Hall of Fame’s lobby.

“I’m trying to figure out which one threw me under the bus here for this dang thing,” Elliott joked after the reveal, which was done with GMS Racing President Mike Beam, who was a crew chief for Elliott throughout the 90s, including in his 1994 win.

“They just said, ‘Hey, you’re going to do it.’ I’m in the car,” Elliott said. His son Chase Elliott has made four starts in the No. 23 this season and will compete in Friday’s Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

While Bill Elliott hasn’t competed in NASCAR since the July 2012 Cup race at Daytona, the 62-year-old isn’t rusty by any means.

He’s kept busy recently by competing in vintage races, like the SVRA “Indy Legends” Charity Pro-Am in June. He also competed in the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli at Road Atlanta in March.

“It’s not this league of racing, I’ll put it that way,” Elliott said. “It’s still competition. Everything you do as you look at it is competition.”

The 44-time Cup winner has no expectations for his first race at Road America

“I feel pretty good in the cars,” Elliott said. “This will be the whole fun of it, ‘How does this all work?'”

He’s been aided by his son. Chase Elliott shared his notes from his most recent race at Road America, when he drove for JR Motorsports in 2015. He placed fourth in both his starts on the road course.

The notes are welcome, but they are also a stark difference between generations in the approach to race preparation.

“I never took notes,” Bill Elliott said with a laugh. “It’s pretty neat to have at least a rough idea of what you got and what you’re looking forward to. But on the flip side, the aero package has changed from that era.”

Elliott, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2015, was asked a simple question at one point.

Why do it?

“How do you know if you don’t try?” Elliott asked. “Whether you lose, win or draw, you always try to do things extra at the end of the day. I think from this standpoint, just go out and have a good time with it …

“There’s a lot of deserving guys that could be in this thing. They want me to do it, I’ll do my best.”

Photo: Daniel McFadin

GMS Racing also unveiled the throwback paint scheme Spencer Gallagher will have in the Sept. 1 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway.

Gallagher will sport the scheme Davey Allison drove in ARCA in 1985.

The race will be Gallagher’s third Xfinity start since being reinstated from an indefinite suspension that began in April after he violated NASCAR’s substance abuse policy.

“This is definitely the most special thing I’ve gotten to do since I started driving race cars,” Gallagher said. “Getting to run the livery of none other than Davey Allison, one of the most pivotal drivers of his generation, 19 wins, Hall of Fame inductee, winner of the Daytona 500 … There’s no other way to describe it. That’s the coolest thing I’ve ever had on the car.”

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Scan All, Bristol preview

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to turn the page to this weekend’s racing in Bristol.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty in Stamford, Connecticut. Jeff Burton joins them from Burton’s garage.

On today’s show:

  • We will re-live all the sights and sounds of Kevin Harvick‘s dominant victory to re-affirm the “Big 3’s” grip on the 2018 season with today’s edition of Scan All: Michigan.
  • We’ll make the turn from the Irish Hills to Thunder Valley as we begin to preview Saturday’s Night Race at Bristol. Our panel of experts will talk about Kyle Busch‘s recent mastery of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. Plus, we’ll examine several drivers seeking their first victory of 2018 and a highly coveted ticket to the Playoffs.
  • And, our own Kyle Petty will hop into the iRacing Simulator for some hot laps in Thunder Valley. How will he handle Bristol’s high banks, along with some distractions that we will throw his way?

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.