Kyle Larson Earns His Spot for the NASCAR Showdown
When it comes to NASCAR’s All-Star Race formula, the only constant is change.
It’s been 25 years since NASCAR’s non-points exhibition—dubbed “One Hot Night”—was run in the evening for the first time. NASCAR has tinkered with the All-Star Race format a lot since then, and this year’s event will add a new twist while also saluting the 1992 original.
The Monster Energy Open (formerly the Sprint Showdown) precedes the All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then fans will see NASCAR’s top drivers compete in three stages of 20 laps as a qualifier for the final 10-car, 10-lap stage, which carries a $1 million prize. The 70 total laps are a nod to the number of laps that took place in the memorable 1992 event.
Kyle Larson (above) earned a spot in last year’s All-Star Race by winning the showdown. He’s qualified for the main event automatically, thanks to his points race victories, and he’s happy for the automatic bid.
The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback and five-time NFL MVP retired from football after the 2015 season.
“Last year there was a lot of pressure going into the showdown,” Larson says. “This year, being locked in the All-Star Race is a big relief—knowing that you’re not going to have to put your car at risk before the All-Star Race. And you’re already guaranteed a shot to go for $1 million, which is nice.”
In a new competition wrinkle, teams will be given the option to use one set of Goodyear soft tires, which provide better grip and increased speed. Crew chiefs must strategize on when to use the soft tires, and Larson expects them to be a big factor in determining the outcome of the final stage. “If I can line up on the outside row with [soft tires],” he says, “definitely I would have to take advantage of that speed in that first lap or two and try to get the lead as quick as I can.”
Saturday, May 20
Monster Energy Open, 6/5c, Fox Sports 1
All-Star Race, 8/7c, Fox Sports 1