Two of NASCAR’s most celebrated races are headed our way this month as we look ahead to Memorial Day weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The mile-and-a-half track will host the Monster Energy All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600 over the course of just eight days from May 20-28.
Monster Energy All-Star Race
The circuit’s first stop of the season in North Carolina will serve as a celebration of all things new in the sport as the 2017 NASCAR All-Star Race will feature a staged format similar in structure to NASCAR’s 2017 regular season format. The Monster Energy All-Star Race will include four stages of racing, with the entire field participating in each of the first three 20-lap stages. Only ten drivers will qualify for the final 10-lap stage, with $1 million on the line.
The new format for the Monster Energy All-Star Race will create the same high-energy racing we have come to love this season, as drivers are encouraged to win one of the first three stages or complete each with the best possible average finish possible. Winners of each of the first three stages automatically qualify for the fourth and final stage. The remaining seven spots will go the drivers with the best average finishes.
The 10 lap, 15-mile final stage will serve as an all-out dash for the checkered flag, with starting positions determined by each driver’s exit off pit road after an optional pit. Pits crews and team strategies will be put at a premium as drivers jostle for position at speeds of 160 mph or more.
Just over a week later, all eyes will again be on the Queen City for the Charlotte Motor Speedway’s annual Sunday night celebration of Memorial Day weekend. Over the course of 400 laps around the speedway, drivers will battle through three stages of racing – each with their own championship implication – toward the end goal of capturing a Coca-Cola 600 crown.
Not only will the year’s Coca-Cola 600 feature NASCAR’s staged racing for the first time during the regular season at Charlotte Motor Speedway, drivers will also have to contend with shifting track conditions in the sunlight versus under the lights.
The action will kick off just after 6 p.m. underneath plenty of late May sunlight. But well into stage two and mostly likely throughout stage three, nighttime racing will take over – and with it will come the challenges of shifting track temperatures and tire pressures.
Atop the Monster Energy Series Cup Standings, leader Kyle Larson in the 42 Chevrolet and Chase Elliott in the 24 Chevrolet will look to grab a few valuable midseason points. But, of course, hometown drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Kannapolis and Austin Dillon and Ty Dillon of Welcome will be excited to spend two weeks at home showing their fans what they can do. And after announcing his retirement in April, fans will surely want to see Earnhardt in action for one of his last races in Charlotte.
At the Winston Cup Museum, we look forward to Memorial Day weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway every year. Just over an hour away from our downtown Winston-Salem museum, we get to see the best NASCAR has to offer two weeks in a row. It doesn’t get any better than that!