A wild qualifying session set the order for the top 16 starting positions for Saturday’s
Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with Kyle Larson winning the pole for the first time in this event.
Some 20 drivers will start the all-star race, which pays $1 million to win but doesn’t pay any points.
The all-star race has its own unique qualifying format: Each of the 16 drivers had to do three laps, with a mandatory four-tire pit stop with no pit-road speed limit. Then, the five fastest drivers had to repeat the process in Round 2.
The final four positions in the big race will go to the winners of each of the three stages in the last chance, 50-lap Monster Energy Open preliminary tomorrow, as well as the winner of the Monster Energy Fan Vote.
Here’s where the top 16 drivers qualified for the Monster Energy All-Star Race:
Kyle Larson, 143.849 miles per hour
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader had lots of speed in his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. In Round 2, Larson’s rear-tire changer slipped on a hose and fell, but quickly recovered.
Kyle Busch, 143.826 mph
Hard to believe that as good as Busch is, he’s still looking for his first all-star victory and only the second for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch does have three all-star poles and he was the only JGR driver to qualify in the top five. A solid effort for Busch, but not enough for a fourth pole. Close though.
Kevin Harvick, 143.540 mph
Harvick was the first driver to go out in Round 1, which means he went out when the track was hottest. But he still was fastest in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in Round 1. He didn’t gain on it in Round 2, though.
Jimmie Johnson, 133.123 mph
Although he has a record four all-star wins, Johnson has only won the pole for this event one time. He had a good run in the first round, when he clocked in fourth. But in Round 2, Johnson drove through his pit stall and lost his chance at a poll. And when slid past his stall, the No. 48 crew went over the wall, earning a 5-second penalty.
Kurt Busch, 132.703 mph
A past series champion, past all-star winner and 2017 Daytona 500 winner, Busch had a fast car like his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick. In the end, Harvick narrowly edged Busch in Round 1. But two loose lug nuts knocked him out of contention.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., 143.136 mph
In his final all-star start, Earnhardt fought the car on his opening lap. He had a good pit stop, though, and came close to making the top five and advancing to the second round.
Brad Keselowski, 143.011 mph
The 2012 champion had a lot of tire chatter when he pulled the No. 2 Team Penske Ford onto pit road, but did not have a lot of wheelspin when he left.
Matt Kenseth, 142.176 mph
A two-time all-star pole winner, Kenseth slid through his pit stall, which required his Joe Gibbs Racing crew to push his car back into the stall.
Denny Hamlin, 141.483 mph
Forced to go to a backup car after a crash during practice, Hamlin qualified in a car that had not turned a lap prior to the time trials. An impressive performance considering.
Jamie McMurray, 139.064 mph
The surprise winner of the 2014 all-star race, McMurray has had a stellar season piloting the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. But he slid through his pit stall on his stop, which hurt.
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Chris Buescher, 138.837 mph
In his first all-star appearance, made a clean pit stop, which was a minor victory in and off itself.
Joey Logano, 138.592 mph
Last year, Logano won this race for the first time, scoring a huge victory for the No. 22 Team Penske squad. This time, Logano wait way past where he was supposed to pit, which his speed reflected.
Kasey Kahne, 138.562 mph
The 2008 all-star race winner, Kahne slid his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet through his pit box, which cost him any hope of a good qualifying spot.
Martin Truex Jr., 137.745 mph
Last week’s winner in Kansas — and last year’s Coca-Cola 600 winner — Truex has had fast Furniture Row Racing Toyotas all year. He appeared to have a solid and uneventful qualifying effort, but he had a loose lug nut, which cost him a 5-second penalty.
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Ryan Newman, 136.563 mph
After winning earlier this year in Phoenix, Newman is already having a good season. But he had a lurid slide in Turn 4, going sideways as he was coming to pit road. Although Newman made a great save, the slide for life ruined his lap.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 137.215 mph
Winning at Talladega put Stenhouse into the all-star race with his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. Stenhouse pitted a little deep into his pit box, which slowed his stop a little bit.
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