Sport A complete breakdown of how the complex NASCAR All-Star Race works

18:51  19 may  2017
18:51  19 may  2017 Source:   For The Win

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Monster Energy All - Star Race format 101. Below is a breakdown of how the event will unfold and answers key questions on the format, eligibility and more. The Elon University graduate has worked in the sports industry since 2010.

A complete breakdown of how the complex NASCAR All-Star Race works© Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports A complete breakdown of how the complex NASCAR All-Star Race works

Just like all-star events in other pro sports, NASCAR's All-Star race hardly resembles any other competition. It takes place on a track, but that's about all it has in common with the other 36 points races this season. So FTW is here to explain how the 2017 race - Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 8 p.m. ET - works and who's allowed to compete.

How do they qualify?

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In a 20-car field, 16 of the drivers are already guaranteed a spot in the race because either they won a previous All-Star Race and still compete full-time, they won a past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship and still compete full-time or they won a points race in 2016 or 2017.

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From this, the drivers already in Saturday's race are Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr., Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The remaining four drivers will qualify based on their performance in the Monster Energy Open (also Saturday) and a fan vote.

What is the Monster Energy Open?

Two hours before the All-Star Race kicks off, full-time drivers not already qualified will run a 50-lap, three-stage race. The winner of the three stages - one of which is the race winner - will advance to the main event.

If drivers don't qualify through any of these means, the winner of a fan vote - which does not include the Open's stage winners - will be get the final spot.

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What is the All-Star race format?

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It's a 70-lap race around the 1.5-mile track and is broken into three 20-lap stages with a final 10-lap shootout.

Are there any major rule differences?


Unlike traditional races, only 10 drivers will be allowed to compete in the final, 10-lap segment for the win. Those 10 are will be the first three stage winners (assuming they're still on the lead lap) plus the seven drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages.

To determine the starting lineup for the race, each team will have three timed laps with a mandatory four-tire pit stop - so the pit crews have to be on their game as well. But there's no speed limit on pit road for this required stop, so rather than being limited to 50 miles per hour or so, drivers could be pushing triple digits.

Teams will also be allowed to use one softer set of tires, which offers more grip on the track and a faster speed. However, if a team chooses to use the softer tires going into the final stage, the cars have to start behind those with the regular tires.

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What's the prize?

No points for the season, but the winner gets a cool $1 million. And if Harvick happens to be the winner, one lucky fan will get that much too.

Why does it matter?


"It's a little bit of a throwback event in many ways, and I think fans enjoy it because there's no holds barred," NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip told For The Win. "You go out there and hang it out as much as you possibly can and maybe you'll win a million bucks."

Waltrip - whose now an analyst for FOX Sports - won the first All-Star Race back in 1985, although then it was simply known as The Winston.

"It was supposed to be - and still is - a fan appreciation event," he explained. "Really and truly, the race was just icing on the cake. The two or three days leading up to the All-Star Race are like going to a county fair or something like that, where there's entertainment and things to do and drivers appearances and just a whole lot of fun things that go into the event before running the race on Saturday night."

How DiBenedetto earned Dale Jr.’s All-Star Race vote .
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