Cup All Stars Racing For A Million from a NASCAR Fan’s View

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Rusty Norman

There is absolutely nothing on the line for the drivers and teams taking to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All Star race Saturday night. Well, that is unless you consider the winner will walk away with a cool million dollars. Since there are no points to gain and not much else offered for the nights work, I guess racing to possibly win a million dollars IS incentive enough to do what it takes to end up as the winner. I know it would be for me and I’m guessing it would be for you too. I do have admit, there is something awfully enticing and motivating to do something you really love and possibly make a million dollars in the process.

Because it is mostly about the money and not much else other than bragging rights likely explains why it is such a wide open race. If past All Star races tell us anything as fans, this one will probably not be any different and it should prove to be a very interesting night of competition. Some of them have ended quite dramatically in the past, with cars, car parts and some with varying forms of damage strewn all along the path to the flag stand and beyond. It never ceases to amaze this fan what some of the drivers will try or do to win that million dollar prize. (Sometimes I think they even surprise themselves.)

So what does it take for a driver to make it into the Monster Energy All Star race? Well that is a very interesting question and though many of you may know the answer, I will answer for those that may not be familiar with the process or, at least, are new to NASCAR or just a casual fan. It may sound a bit complicated but trust me, it really isn’t. So here we go…

For a driver to qualify for being in the All Star race several factors are considered. First of all, they have to be an active driver in the Cup series and, at the time of this writing, there are sixteen drivers locked in. They either have to be past winners from the 2016/2017 season or past All Star winners or series champions. If they are none of the above, they will compete in the Open which will consist of three stages. Two of those stages will be 20 laps in length and the final stage is 10 laps. The winner of each of the three stages qualifies to be in the All Star race. After that, there is one final driver that will qualify to be in the All Star race and that will be the one voted in by the fans.

That’s what makes the Open so intense. If a driver doesn’t win one of the three stages, he (or she) won’t make the big one and will miss a chance to win the Million dollars. Another thing about this late afternoon and evening of racing is that a fan does have a chance at winning a million dollars and that is if Kevin Harvick wins the cool million for the Monster Energy All Star race. Gee… that doesn’t sound like it puts any extra pressure on Harvick, does it? Oh well, that’s just another thing about this race – it is all about the fans (and of course, the money…)

There are a few things about this race that make it interesting and one of those is that they all practice in the heat of the day and the All Star race takes place in the cooler temperatures of the evening into the night. That means the crew chief and engineers have to make decisions about setup and if they miss it, well, their driver may not have much of a chance at winning, especially if they miss it big. On the other hand, if they miss it, take big swings at it and make their driver happy, they put themselves back in the hunt for that million dollar payoff. Now that really doesn’t sound all that complicated, does it? Well don’t forget to throw in the three twenty lap stages and the ten lap final stage along with that different tire with the green lettering. Even the rules for using that will make it very interesting from this fan’s view.

There is no doubt in my mind that this could be one of the most intense and dramatic All Star races that we as fans have witnessed in while. The addition of the stages has definitely added something to the racing so far this season and I expect it will be the same tonight when they take the green flag to get started. One thing about the All Star race is it has always been flat out once the green drops and, with the stages set the way they are, they all know it will be twenty laps to make it to the front in all of them except the last one. Remember… this is all about the money they are racing for. That million dollar prize is all this is about. There are no points – just money – and it only goes to the winner and his team.

When it comes down to those last ten laps for the million dollars, it could prove to be very exciting and emotional. In the past, there have been some very interesting things tried to try and be the one taking the checkered flag and the million dollars. Sometimes it gets pretty rough and sometimes it gets messy but it is always exciting and it is one time it is never over until it is over. That means, at least from this fans view, there could be a big one at the finish or an unexpected winner – it is hard to tell. All I know is it is always worth watching to the very end. Well… that is except when one of the drivers runs away from the rest in those final few laps. Then it is actually over before it ends and that isn’t what this fan is hoping for the way this one ends…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© May 20, 2017 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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