The 70-lap All-Star event which pays tribute to Charlotte's "One Hot Night" of 25 years ago - the first All-Star night race at CMS - and will ultimately come down to one 10-lap shootout for the $1 million winner-take-all prize.
"When I was only like fourth after I got done out of the seven cars or whatever, I was like, 'There's no way I can make it, '" Larson said. "We just won the Texas race and the Richmond race a couple weeks before, so we really were just amazed to be in the race, we didn't think we were going to win it".
In last year's exhibition race held annually in Charlotte, a new set of rules designed to create more action resulted in nearly half of the field going a lap down. It's a lot of fun and not a whole lot on the line other than a lot of money. It's one of the most exciting events of All Star weekend, and every NASCAR fan will be watching. I wanted to qualify better than that. If all goes well in Charlotte, NASCAR is considering using option tires in points races.
The one-of-a-kind qualifying procedures - which abandon the pit-road speed limit for one night only - tripped up a handful of drivers. If a driver decides to save the tires for the final shootout, they must start at the back of the field and weave their way up front. "We just didn't want to start in the back, so lug nuts tight, not sliding through the pit box, don't miss pit road and don't overdrive the vehicle". Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes team opted for softer tires in his final stop, forcing the leading Ferrari of Sebastien Vettel to also pit. Johnson bolted past his pit stop costing him valuable time, while first-round leader Kevin Harvick struggled with his car's handling. Johnson was penalized five seconds after overshooting his stall and backing up.
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Given the way hes run all season, that shouldnt be an issue for Larson this time out. "I needed to back up my mark a little bit more".
The deciding factor for the pole was pit road, where Larson's team performed a 13.5-second stop, even though the rear tire changer tripped over a hose and fell as he rounded the rear of the auto.
Martin Truex Jr. was one of the drivers that was hit with a 5-second lug nut penalty in Round 1. We will have to just wait and see. "I have all the confidence in our team and feel that we'll have a competitive 5-hour ENERGY Toyota for the main event".
A checkered flag in the Monster Energy All-Star Race.