Four and Fuel: Takeaways From the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Four and Fuel: Takeaways From the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Each week, Greg Atkins and I examine our hot takes from the previous weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race and any burning topics leading up to the next week’s event.

Biggest takeaway from the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway?

Atkins – It’s still hard to pass on 1.5-mile tracks. That’s probably not something that’s going to change anytime soon. The urgency demonstrated during the Open was electric. However, the intensity during the final ten laps of the main event was anti-climactic.

Painter – For all of the build-up and hype surrounding the All-Star Race, I think the product on the track underperformed overwhelmingly. Other than the exciting final stage in the Monster Energy Open, the All-Star Race was a complete dud. No cautions other than stage breaks and the driver with clean air could set sail from the field.

Biggest surprise from Charlotte?

Atkins – The biggest surprise from Charlotte for me was the apparent lack of speed from the No. 78 team. Considering Truex has been lightning quick on 1.5-milers this year, I anticipated a better run from him. Still, his Furniture Row team has the tracks figured out and he’ll be a factor this coming weekend.

Painter – Clean air was obviously very important, but I was surprised at how well the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas during the event. Kyle Busch came away victorious, but Denny Hamlin and Daniel Suarez were both competitive early on and the No. 19 transferred to the main event after winning the final stage of the Open.

How well did the option tire work during the All-Star Race

Atkins – It’s definitely an idea that needs some work, but it’s something that could add a lot of excitement and new strategies to Cup Series racing once it’s perfected.

Painter – I like the concept, but I didn’t feel that it made much of a difference. Again, clean air was more important to being the car to beat out front and there is some gray area with the tire combinations.

From Saturday night’s All-Star Race are there any drivers that have the competitive advantage heading into the Coca-Cola 600?

Atkins – Track position proved to be king during this race and that will likely be the case during the Coca-Cola 600. Whoever starts up front has a great chance to stay there. It’s still a long race and anything can happen.

Painter – Kyle Larson – The No. 42 was the car to beat at the All-Star Race and a late-race mishap on the final pit stop cost the Target Team a shot at one million dollars. Larson restarted fifth and was able to climb back to second, but was unable to mount a late charge on Kyle Busch. I am interested to see what kind of car Larson has for the 600.

Fuel (bold prediction or statement) – If you had input for the All-Star format, what would it be?

Atkins – Personally, I would like to see other tracks bid for the event. Other than that, I think the format this year was great but, perhaps, could have been better at another track. A night race at Martinsville immediately comes to mind.

Painter – “Run what you brung” rules with the same stage lengths and a random after each stage. As smart as the crew chiefs are today, I think you allow them to have more freedom to set up the car than they have on an ordinary weekend. If they want to tune an engine to use all 900 horsepower, as long as the car’s structural integrity is the same it should be allowed.

Photo Credit: Greg Atkins

Please follow and like us: