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All-Star Race features longer final stage, technical changes

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The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race will feature a longer final stage for $1 million and some technical changes that could be implemented in the Gen 7 car.

NASCAR announced the technical guidelines and race format Wednesday night.

The two technical changes for the May 18 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be:

# A single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan that is expected to offer improvements in ride height sensitivity for drivers. This is expected to provide a more stable aero platform and create more consistent performance in traffic.

# The car will be configured with a radiator duct that exits through the hood as opposed to the current design, which exits into the engine component. This feature is expected to create improved aerodynamic parity and reduce engine temperatures.

“Throughout its history, the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race has provided a platform to try new and innovative ideas, some of which we have incorporated on a full-time basis,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “Last year’s all-star rules package resulted in one of the most exciting all-star races in history. With a similar package, and added elements that we could see in the next generation race car, we expect another must-watch event.”

The format for the race is similar to last year with the exception of the final stage. That stage will be 15 laps — five laps longer than last year’s race. That will make the race 85 laps total.

The first stage will be 30 laps and the next two stages will be 20 laps each. Green flag and yellow flag laps will count in the first three stages. Only green flag laps will count in the final stage.

Each stage must end under green. Overtime procedures will be in place for each stage. If the race is restarted with two laps or less in the final stage, there will be unlimited attempts at a green, white, checkered finish.

As was the case last year, there is no mandatory pit strategy.

The Monster Energy Open, which also will be held May 18, will be three stages. The first two stages will be 20 laps. The final stage will be 10 laps. That is the same as last year.

Each stage winner in the Monster Energy Open advances to the All-Star Race.

Those eligible for the All-Star Race are winners from last season and this season, previous all-star winners who are competing full-time in the series, Cup champions who are running full-time in the series, the three stage winners from the Monster Energy Open and the winner of the fan vote, which is underway at nascar.com/fanvote.

Drivers who are eligible to compete are:

Aric Almirola

Ryan Blaney

Clint Bowyer

Kurt Busch

Kyle Busch

Austin Dillon

Chase Elliott

Denny Hamlin

Kevin Harvick

Jimmie Johnson

Erik Jones

Brad Keselowski

Joey Logano

Ryan Newman

Martin Truex Jr.

Kevin Harvick won last year’s All-Star Race. Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez and AJ Allmendinger advanced to last year’s All-Star Race by winning a stage in the Open. Chase Elliott was the fan vote winner.

Also, the format for All-Star qualifying will remain the same. Qualifying will include a pit stop.

Weekend passes for the All-Star Race are $79 per person and include admission to the May 17 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Charlotte, All-Star qualifying, the Monster Energy Open on May 18 and the All-Star Race after that. Kids 13 and under get in free on May 17 and for $10 with an adult purchase on May 18. For more ticket information, call 1-800-455-FANS or visit CharlotteMotorSpeedway.com.

 

Richmond winners and losers

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WINNERS

Joe Gibbs Racing — Martin Truex Jr. becomes the third different JGR driver to win this season. Joe Gibbs Racing has won six of the first nine Cup races. JGR drivers led 287 of the 400 laps Saturday night. The team placed three of its drivers in the top eight.

Clint Bowyer — His third-place finish was his fourth consecutive top-10 finish.

Austin Dillon — His sixth-place finish was his best result of the year. It also was his best finish since last year’s playoff race at Richmond.

Cole CusterHe won Friday night’s Xfinity race, giving him his second victory of the season. This is what he needs to do to make a move to Cup. Last September, car owner Gene Haas was asked about Custer (who had two career Xfinity wins at the time) possibly moving to Cup to replace Kurt Busch for this season. Haas said then: “We think Cole is a good talent. I think he’s talented. He’s very marketable. I think a lot of things are positives, but he has to win the Xfinity (Series) before he really move up to Cup racing.”

 

LOSERS

Kyle LarsonContact led to a tire rub. Even after pitting, he still had problems and hit the wall to finish last in the 37-car field. Larson has not finished in the top 15 in the last four races. He’s placed 37th or worse in two of the last three races.

No. 20 Cup team Erik Jones qualified second only to lose that starting spot when his car was among eight that failed inspection before the race. That forced him to start at the rear. He steadily moved into the top 10 but then two slow pit stops doomed him. On a night that a JGR car won, Jones saw his hopes go away. Now this is the only team at JGR that has yet to win a Cup race this season. 

Hendrick Motorsports None of its cars was a factor. Jimmie Johnson finished 12th, Willam Byron 13th, Chase Elliott 15th and Alex Bowman 17th.

Hendrick Motorsports places two cars in top 10 but ‘still a lot of work to do’

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Three of its cars led, two finished in the top 10 and one placed fifth Sunday for Hendrick Motorsports, but Jeff Andrews, the team’s general manager, noted that there is “still a lot of work to do.”

Jimmie Johnson led the organization with his season-high fifth-place finish. It marked his first top five since last year’s Coca-Cola 600, which was 10 months ago.

William Byron matched his career best with a sixth-place finish. Chase Elliott was 13th, while Alex Bowman placed 18th in a backup car. Johnson (60 laps), Elliott (35) and Byron (15) combined to lead nearly a third of the 334-lap race.

“Our goal was to go out today and execute a clean race and take the cars we had starting up front there and keep them there all day,” Andrews told NBC Sports. “Certainly the way … the midway part of the race played out was strategy … and shuffled that up. The encouraging thing was that we were able to claw our way back up through there.”

Sunday marked the first time this season that Hendrick Motorsports placed two cars in the top 10. With Elliott’s runner-up finish last weekend at Martinsville and Johnson’s fifth on Sunday, it was the first time this year Hendrick cars have finished in the top five in consecutive weekends.

Andrews said the organization has worked in all areas from engine to aero to improve its cars this season.

“Certainly a good step for us, not all the way there by any means,” he said. “I think for everybody to feel a little bit better, we need to go to Kansas and some other intermediate tracks and have similar days.”

Johnson said the big difference was having a faster car. His No. 48 Chevrolet was quick in qualifying and practice and carried that through the race, leading the opening 59 laps from the pole. But when he got back in traffic, he struggled. It wasn’t as much as he did at Las Vegas, but there’s still work to do there.

“Driving way better in traffic,” Johnson said. “I think we found a really good direction. This was a great learning point for us. Vegas went so badly we kind of scrapped it all and started all over. Atlanta, scrapped it all and started over. Fontana was OK, still not what we needed. Now that we have not only the 48 running well, but all the cars had speed, we have a great foundation to build from.”

Byron said the speed difference was noticeable Sunday.

“Just faster cars,” he said. “We were faster down the straightaways and faster in the corners a little bit. It just felt like our cars were faster. It didn’t really handle that different, but we were quicker and able to make passes and drive away and that felt good.”

Ryan Newman to start at rear at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas – Ryan Newman will start at the rear after his car failed inspection twice before Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway.

He was to have started 18th.

NASCAR also ejected the team’s car chief, and Newman will be docked 15 minutes in the first practice next weekend at Bristol.

The only other car that will start at the rear is that of Alex Bowman. He went to a backup car after hitting the wall Friday.

Today’s Cup race at Texas: Start time, lineup, more

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Can an organization other than Team Penske or Joe Gibbs Racing win a Cup race? It hasn’t happened in the season’s first six races.

Or will Kyle Busch win and complete the sweep of Cup, Xfinity and Truck races this weekend at Texas?

Here’s the pertinent information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace will give the command to start engines at 3:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 3:16 p.m.

PRERACE: The crew chief and drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions will begin at 1:40 p.m. The invocation will be given by Bret Shisler with Texas Alliance Raceway Ministries at 3 p.m. The 1st Calvary Division Army Band will perform the national anthem at 3:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 334 laps (501 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 85. Stage 2 ends on Lap 170.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 2:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race. PRN’s coverage begins at 2 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast, which is also available at goprn.com.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for partly cloudy skies with a high of 54 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kevin Harvick won the November playoff race (only to have his car fail inspection at the R&D Center). Ryan Blaney was second (also penalized for failing inspection after the race). Joey Logano was third. Kyle Busch won this event last April. Harvick was second. Jamie McMurray placed third.

TO THE REAR: Alex Bowman (backup) and Ryan Newman (car failed inspection twice before race).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the lineup.