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Saturday’s practice holds at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Five Cup teams will receive practice holds today during the final two practice sessions for the Coca-Cola 600.

JJ Yeley‘s team originally had a 15 minute hold in each session, the first for being late to qualifying inspection and the second for failing inspection twice.

Due to rain cancelling the first practice, Yeley will serve a 30 minute hold in final practice.

The teams of Aric Almirola, Kasey Kahne and Parker Kligerman will also receive 15 minute holds in final practice for failing inspection twice.

Kevin Harvick has a 30 minute hold in final practice for failing qualifying inspection three times.

Harvick will start from the rear Sunday and his car chief was ejected for the remainder of the race weekend.

 

Matt Kenseth wins pole for All-Star Race; Roush Fenway sweeps front row

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CONCORD, North Carolina — One week after coming off the bench, Matt Kenseth won the pole for Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Driving the No. 6 Ford, Kenseth posted the best average speed in the session which saw drivers make three laps around the track and a pit stop.

Kenseth claimed his third All-Star pole with an average speed of 126.915 mph. He also had the best pit stop time at 16.1 seconds.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified second (126.427 mph), giving Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the front row. It’s the third time a team has swept the front row in the All-Star Race.

“It’s neat to sit on the pole,” Kenseth told Fox Sports 1. “Ricky was a huge help obviously. Having both cars on the front row is really a tribute to these guys, the pit stops and obviously the engines … to get this done. This is more about the car and the team then it really was about me.”

Kenseth’s pole comes while he’s driving a paint scheme honoring Mark Martin‘s 1998 win in the All-Star Race. He last won the All-Star pole in 2007.

Qualifying came after teams got minimal practice time due to rain. That prevented teams from getting a grasp of the rules package this weekend that includes restrictor plates.

“It’s always good to start up front, no matter what the racing is like and no matter where you’re at,” Kenseth said.

The top five is completed by Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr.

Denny Hamlin qualified 14th after overshooting his pit box and then being dealt an outside tire penalty.

Kasey Kahne will start last. During his qualifying run he overshot his pit box and then had two unsecured lug nuts, which is a 10-second penalty.

The full field will be determined by the Monster Energy Open tomorrow night. Three drivers will advance via stage wins and a fourth will make it through a fan vote.

Click here for qualifying results.

Kevin Harvick tops rain-shortened practice at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick had the fastest lap in Friday’s rain-shortened practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick had a top lap of 170.406 mph with the new aero package that includes restrictor plates – the first time restrictor plates have been used at Charlotte. Rain limited drivers to no more than five laps of practice.

Harvick was followed by Kurt Busch (169.502 mph), Denny Hamlin (169.428), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (169.412) and Clint Bowyer (169.030).

Among those who did not record a lap were Kyle Busch, Erik Jones, Jamie McMurray and Kasey Kahne.

“You know the first time that I got out of my garage stall, I made it to the end of pit road and backed up,” Busch said of being stopped by rain. “The second time I got out down the backstretch, hit fourth gear and then pretty much came back to pit road (because of rain). That was about all I’ve got of practice right now.”

NASCAR had teams in the All-Star Race and Monster Open practice together.

Click here for practice report

New rules for All-Star Race make this anyone’s event to win

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How will Saturday night’s All-Star Race unfold at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a new rules package virtually untested in the real world?

“We will just have to wait and see,” Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman said, succinctly summarized the thoughts of many.

“The rules package NASCAR is planning to use for the All-Star Race is definitely going to be interesting and something different,” Bowman said in a release this week. “It’s cool that NASCAR is trying to constantly make the racing better.”

This week’s prerace releases have been filled with uncertainty. Martin Truex Jr. hopes to use that to his advantage because the rules won’t carry over to the Coca-Cola 600. He isn’t the only one experiencing a change in attitude this year.

Locked into the All-Star Race because of his 2008 victory in the event, Kasey Kahne has the opportunity to deliver Leavine Family Racing one of its biggest successes. Much like racing on the restrictor-plate superspeedways, conventional wisdom will not apply, and this likely will be a wild-card race.

“With us not having run this rules package, we go into this weekend not exactly sure how the cars are going to feel in general, how they’ll work around other cars, or what the speeds will be like,” Kahne said. “It’s tough to say how it will all work out, but we won’t be learning much from this weekend to carry over into the 600 like we may have in years past. Teams will try to go out and win the All-Star Race with this package, and then next weekend, we’ll go back to racing what we’ve been racing all season long.”

“This package is going to be different, there’s no question about it,” David Ragan said. “Charlotte Motor Speedway is a place where the field tends to get strung out really fast, but these rules will slow everybody down a little, and I think we might see more side-by-side racing. And maybe it can spark some new conversation in the industry on a direction we need to go.”

The teams aren’t exactly working in a vacuum. NASCAR used a version of this rules package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Xfinity race last year, and the general consensus was that it did, in fact, create more side-by-side racing.

“I think we have to try this new aero package and see where it goes,” Chris Buescher said. “I know the (Xfinity cars) were able to use it at Indy, and I think as far as statistics go, there was a lot of movement in the field and green-flag passing, and I know that’s what NASCAR is after to try and create something different for the All-Star Race.”

Because no one really knows what to expect, a new rules package levels the playing field and may just well give a less experienced driver a chance to shine.

“Hopefully, what I learned with that aero package last year at Indy (in Xfinity) will apply,” William Byron said. “I feel like maybe I’ll have a little bit of the upper hand just knowing what my car needs to do because I think a lot of guys may be up in the air on what to do with their cars (with the new package).”

What will actually happen in the race is anyone’s guess – much the same as on plate tracks.

Without points on the line, there is an incentive to take risks one might not otherwise. This race is already prone to high-risk moves. If the rules package slows the cars arbitrarily and the entirety of the race is run in a pack or multiple packs, the proximity of these enthusiastic drivers to one another could be a recipe for excitement – or disaster.

What other drivers said:

  • “This year’s race in particular will be interesting with the new rules package. I can’t really give any opinion one way or the other until we get on the racetrack around other cars to see what it will be like.” – Jamie McMurray
  • “I’m excited to get on track with the new package we’ll run and see how it feels and how it races.” – Kyle Larson
  • “You never know what is going to happen, especially with the new aero package that we will run. Anyone can win the race.” – Ty Dillon
  • “Obviously, speeds are going to be slower, a lot more downforce, a lot more drag. But it’s still a big question mark. Nobody knows how it’s really going to play out.” – Michael McDowell

Kasey Kahne celebrating 10th anniversary of All-Star win with throwback scheme

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Leavine Family Racing announced a throwback paint scheme for Kasey Kahne on Tuesday, but you won’t have to wait until the Southern 500 to see it in action.

Kahne’s No. 95 Chevrolet will get the retro treatment this weekend in the Monster Energy All-Star Race.

The scheme celebrates the 10th anniversary of Kahne’s lone win in the exhibition race.

Kahne won the 2008 edition of the event when he drove the No. 9 Dodge owned by Ray Evernham.

Kahne won the event only after he was voted in by fans following the Open. He remains the only driver to win the race after being the winner of the fan vote.

“It was so awesome that the fans voted us into the All-Star race back in 2008,” said Kahne in a press release. “It really was special to get voted into the race, and then to have a great car to be able to drive our way to the front in order to make strategy calls that put us in position to win.  Our paint scheme for this weekend looks so similar to that scheme we ran in 2008’s event, that it’s been cool to see it in the shop as the guys have been getting ready for this weekend.  I’m looking forward to racing it this weekend, and hopefully the paint scheme can bring us the same result we had ten years ago.”

Kahne’s participation is the race this year is Leavine Family Racing’s first time in the main event.

Dumont JETS will sponsor Kahne. It is the first time the company will be a primary sponsor in the Cup Series. It will also be a primary sponsor for the playoff race at Dover International Speedway.