Photo: Stewart Haas Racing
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 15, 2018) – There will be a lot of talk this week about the changes for the Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
An event with as much tradition as the All-Star Race will see something new this year – restrictor plates. Used only at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway or Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, the plates will be coming to the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval Saturday night.
Restrictor plates were actually used somewhere other than a superspeedway – New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon – on Sept. 17, 2000, when Jeff Burton led all 300 laps en route to victory. One week later at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, a young Kurt Busch made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut.
In addition to the restrictor plate at Charlotte Saturday night, racecars will also sport a 6-inch high spoiler with two 12-inch “ears,” a 2014-style splitter up front, and aero ducts.
There will also be a format change for Saturday night’s non-points feature event that is expected to make things thrilling for drivers and fans. But, for Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion, it all means a lot more.
For starters, he is sponsored by Monster Energy and there would be no better reward that winning the Monster Energy All-Star Race. Secondly, the victor takes home a cool $1 million. Thirdly, Busch simply would just like the trophy.
Busch has won exhibition races before, including the All-Star Race at Charlotte, and two events at Daytona – the Can-Am Duels that set the starting field for the Daytona 500, and The Clash, which is the non-points race that kicks off the season there each year.
Both of Busch’s wins at Daytona came in 2011. His win in The Clash came after he swept past Ryan Newman off the final turn, thanks to drafting help from Jamie McMurray. In claiming the checkered flag, he became the 19th different winner of the event that began in 1979. Although it wasn’t a points-paying win, it was the first restrictor-plate victory of Busch’s career. Five days later, Busch again drove into victory lane, this time in the first Can-Am Duel. He started sixth and drafted with Regan Smith all afternoon en route to the win.
Busch would love nothing more than to score another All-Star victory. It would certainly lead to a “Monster” of a party in victory lane.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How important is the Monster Energy All-Star Race?
“A little added pressure with Monster being the title sponsor. I’ve been with them the last seven years doing different things with their brand and them doing different things with me and the racecar. We have a lot of fun together. It’s one of those marquee events that I need to perform in. I go there with as much motivation as possible. The team has built a completely different car for this event. And then there are rule changes. This time around, I hope we can get the group around NASCAR, the TV people, the drivers, everybody, to get the fans excited. Hopefully as excited as that hot summer night years ago because that’s how different this rules package is going to be. It’s going to be pretty wild to see how it all plays out. I know at Stewart-Haas we built different cars and we’re going into this weekend with so much more to learn.”
How are the restrictor plates going to be at Charlotte?
“It’s going to be crazy. It’s going to box us all in like we’re at a superspeedway, but we’re at a mile-and-a-half. So, are guys going to be shoving into a three-wide hole when they know they can’t get out of it? That’s going to be the question.”
What does it mean to you to be in the All-Star Race?
“It’s a who’s who of the Cup Series. It’s a big honor to be included in that race. Those are the winners, the top percent of our sport. To win that race in 2010 was a special moment. To beat the best of the best, and then to receive a check for $1 million, that’s a great feeling.”
Talk about winning the event in 2010. What do you remember about that race? And what would it mean to you to win another one?
“The weekend was perfect. The car unloaded fast. We had an excellent pit stop during our run. We won the pole and it seemed like, in the race, we were the ones dictating what everyone else had to do because of the pace we set. That all starts with the trends that you’ve learned in the beginning of the season. That’s what is different about the All-Star Race and The Clash in Daytona. At Daytona, you’re coming off the offseason, there’s the buildup and excitement for another season and seeing what you’ve got. The All-Star Race is taking what you’ve learned in the first part of the year, applying that and trying to cash in on a big payday.”
Monster Energy Racing Team Report
Non-Points Event – Monster Energy All-Star Race – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Car No.: 41 – Monster Energy Ford Fusion
PR Contact: Mike Arning, True Speed Communication (704-875-3388, ext. 802, Joe.Crowley@TrueSpeedCommunication.com)
Primary Team Members:
Driver: Kurt Busch
Hometown: Las Vegas
Crew Chief: Billy Scott
Hometown: Land O’ Lakes, Florida
Car Chief: Tony Cardamone
Hometown: Bristol, Virginia
Engine Builder: Roush-Yates Engines
Headquarters: Mooresville, North Carolina
Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples
Hometown: Hudson, Illinois
Spotter: Tony Raines
Hometown: LaPorte, Indiana
Over-The-Wall Crew Members:
Gas Man: Rick Pigeon
Hometown: Fairfax, Vermont
Front Tire Changer: Shane Pipala
Hometown: Frankfort Square, Illinois
Windshield: Kyle Anderson (also serves as interior mechanic)
Hometown: Jewell, Iowa
Rear Tire Changer: Coleman Dollarhide
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Jackman: Sean Cotten
Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Dwayne Moore
Hometown: Griffin, Georgia
Road Crew Members:
Truck Driver: Larry Lush and Tim Hussey
Hometowns: Waynesville, North Carolina and Asheboro, North Carolina
Tire Specialist: Nathan McGuire
Hometown: Palmyra, New York
Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Engineers: Scott Bingham and William Lee
Hometowns: Lawrenceville, Georgia and Fuquay-Varina, North Carolina
Mechanic: Nick McIntosh
Hometown: Harve, Montana
Mechanic: Joe Zanolini
Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania
Monster All-Star Race Notes of Interest:
Kurt Busch has one win, eight top-five finishes and 10 top-10s in 16 career Monster Energy All-Star Race starts. He has finished in the top-five in the last three All-Star races.
After Busch’s 2010 All-Star Race win, he went on to dominate the Coca-Cola 600 the following week by leading 252 of the 400 laps en route to winning NASCAR’s longest event. Busch is the most recent of seven drivers to complete the All-Star/Coca-Cola 600 sweep. The other drivers to accomplish the feat are: Kasey Kahne in 2008, Jimmie Johnson in 2003, Jeff Gordon in 1997, Dale Earnhardt in 1993, Davey Allison in 1991 and Darrell Waltrip in 1985.
Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the All-Star Race – In 25 previous All-Star Races, SHR has posted one win (Tony Stewart, 2009), eight top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and have been atop the leaderboard for 52 laps.
Exhibition Wins Not Limited to the All-Star – Busch’s success in NASCAR exhibition races extends beyond the All-Star Race. Busch won both The Clash and the first Can-Am Duel at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in 2011. Busch led three laps and beat Jamie McMurray to the finish line by .058 of a second to win The Clash. That same year, he went on to lead seven laps and beat Regan Smith to win the first Can-Am Duel 150 by .065 of a second. Busch narrowly missed a clean sweep of 2011 Speedweeks by finishing fifth in the Daytona 500, which was won by rookie Trevor Bayne.
How You Get In – The Monster Energy All-Star Race is comprised of NASCAR Cup Series race winners from 2017 and 2018, previous NASCAR All-Star Race winners and former NASCAR Cup Series champions. Drivers who win stages in the Monster Energy Open qualifying race Saturday also transfer into the All-Star Race, along with the driver who wins the All-Star Fan Vote.