It’s a bit of a holiday weekend for the NASCAR series in terms of no points event this week. But there is still racing on Saturday night in Charlotte with the Monster Energy Open and then the Monster Energy All-Star Race. The favorite for the All-Star Race is likely to be reigning Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson. The only four-time all-star winner in the history of the event, Johnson leads all active drivers with 82 points race victories and seven championships. Let’s check the preview for the race and the latest Auto Racing betting favorites to win the trophy.
NASCAR 2017 Monster Energy Open & All-Star Race Betting Preview
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) May 15, 2017
A total of 20 drivers will start the All-Star Race, which pays $1 million to win but no points. There are a few ways drivers can qualify for the race: Win a points race in 2016 or 2017; be a past All-Star race winner or series champion who competes full-time; be one of three stage winners in the Monster Energy Open or be the one Fan Vote winner.
The Monster Energy Open happens Saturday at 6 p.m. ET at Charlotte Motor Speedway and includes three stages (20 laps, 20 Laps, 10 laps). The winner of each stage will earn a spot in the All-Star Race. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knock-out qualifying. No driver has ever won the Monster Energy Open and advanced to win the Monster Energy All-Star Race.
The four-stage format for the All-Star Race at 8 p.m. ET rewards winning and incorporates a strategy component. Each team will have one set of softer tires — for better grip — available to use at its discretion in the 70-lap exhibition race. However, teams that choose to use the softer tires to start the final stage must start behind those that use regular tires. The All-Star Race features four stages (20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps). The goal for all competitors: Earn a spot in the final 10-lap, 10-car stage. The winner of each of the first three stages will lock up a spot in the final stage, as long as they remain on the lead lap after the third stage.
There are 16 drivers currently in the All-Star Race: Chris Buescher, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Three are added through the Monster Energy Open and then one by the fan vote.
Logano is the defending champion and will be a betting favorite along with Johnson. Trying to block the stronger car of Logano in the closing 13-lap final segment of the 2016 race, Kyle Larson buried his car into Turn 1 as Logano edged ahead. Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet got loose and sailed up the track into the outside wall with less than two laps left. Larson’s contact with the wall on the penultimate lap was an opportunity for Logano’s Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, who finished second, 1.142 seconds behind the race winner. Earnhardt Jr. came home third, followed by Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott.
Earnhardt Jr. leads all active drivers in Monster Energy All-Star starts with 17, followed by Harvick and Kenseth with 16 each. This will be the final All-Star Race for Junior so he will be a sentimental favorite. As noted above, Johnson (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013) leads the series in Monster Energy All-Star Race wins with four.
There have been 22 different Monster Energy All-Star Race winners. Six of 22 have multiple wins. Nine of the 32 (28.1%) Monster Energy All-Star Races have been won from the front row: five from the first starting position and four from the second starting position. Earnhardt Jr. is the only driver to win the Monster Energy All-Star Race (2000), the Monster Energy Open (2012) and the Fan Vote (2011).
Five drivers have won the Monster Energy All-Star Race and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship in the same year: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001) and Johnson (2006, 2013).