Parks Pit Report: Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race

Marking the 25th Anniversary of the first night race at Charlotte, Kyle Busch had his own “One Hot Night,” taking home $1 million for victory.

In 1992, the All-Star Race, then named The Winston, took on an entirely new entity.  The afternoon run for a big payoff was getting a different attitude.

With the help of Musco Lighting, who figured out the type of light to light up a speedway without causing blinding glare for the drivers, the Charlotte Motor Speedway now was ready to host a night race.  It was the biggest track to date that held racing at night, and the fans ate it up.

The 70-lap event was highlighted in the final 10-lap run for a payout of $200,000.

It ended with the winning driver…not in victory lane.  His car…not in victory lane.

Davey Allison won that race, but when he passed Kyle Petty just before the finish line, the two touched, and Allison spun driver-side into the frontstretch wall, destroying his car, and sending him to the hospital.  The fans stood in disbelief at what they had seen for over 60 minutes.  The cool spring temperatures suddenly turned the festivities into “One Hot Night,” which is how that race is remembered.

In 2017, NASCAR honored that night by changing the format of the All-Star Race, but with modern challenges.  It was a night of 70 total laps, just like 1992, but in four segments instead of three.  Plus, Goodyear decided to get in on the deal by giving teams an “option.”  Officials brought in the standard tire that was to be used for all teams in the race.  But, all teams in the race were given one set of what Goodyear called the “option” tire.  Designated with Monster Energy green lettering, the tire was softer, providing more grip and increased speed for a short run.

Teams were allowed to use this set whenever they chose, but if they waited till the final segment to run them, after the 20-car field was reduced to 10 for the final 10-lap sprint, those option drivers would be required to start at the rear of the field.

Teams noticed a near half-second advantage on the option tires when they were given a chance to run a second set in practice, but none decided to use them for the final segment, electing to use them earlier to gain speed and track position.

Every year something changes with this race, but of the changes done, the tire idea was a very good one.  If it were me, I’d keep that idea of having the option tire for next year, but instead of letting teams decide when to run them, have the drivers be required to run the option tire for the final segment, but be forced to run the same set of option tires they practiced on.

The idea of an option tire changed the thinking for the crews, and should be one that continues for next year, if something different doesn’t come up before then.

MONSTER ENERGY OPEN TRANSFERS:  Clint Bowyer, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez

FAN VOTE WINNER:  Chase Elliott

STAGE 1 WINNER:  Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER:  Kyle Larson

STAGE 3 WINNER:  Jimmie Johnson

RESULTS:  1-Kyle Busch  2-Larson  3-Johnson  4-Kurt Busch  5-McMurray  6-Harvick  7-Elliott  8-Logano  9-Keselowski  10-Hamlin

NOTABLE FINISHES:  11-Blaney  13-Bowyer  15-Suarez  18-Earnhardt Jr.

CAUTIONS:  3 for 3 laps.  Lap 20-20 (Stage Conclusion), 40-40 (Stage Conclusion), 60-60 (Stage Conclusion).

LEAD CHANGES:  3 among 4 drivers.  Larson 1-40, Blaney 41, Johnson 42-60, Kyle Busch 61-70.

TIME OF RACE:  1 Hr, 12 Mins, 47 Secs.

AVERAGE SPEED:  86.558 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  1.274 Seconds

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