Every professional sport has some form of an all-star event that it uses to showcase its stars and in the process put on an entertaining show for the fans. The stick and ball sports make sure that they put their stars in a position to shine but at the same time, those all-star games do not generate the same kind of passion and effort that we witnessed Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the running of the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.
The race is definitely an event that has been tweaked for the fans in the stands and the television audience but unlike other all-star events, the action that takes place on the track has all of the passion and tension that is on display at every stop on the MENCS schedule.
There were no points awarded on Saturday night but there was the lure of the one million dollar check that went to the winner.
The thought of taking home the check was on the minds of every driver that took the green flag to start the race and on the minds of everyone watching from their homes as FOX's broadcast team repeated time and time again that it was the million dollars that was on the line that had every driver pushing both his car and himself to the limit to be able to cash that check at the end of the race.
Kevin Harvick and his Stewart Haas Racing Ford was the class of the field but his pit crew did not have the kind of night on pit road that would allow him to take his Mustang to Victory Lane. Harvick found himself back in the field after leading much of the race which opened up the door for some other drivers to take a turn at leading the field. Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Chase Elliott at times looked like they were going to have the car to beat but all of that changed when the final 15-lap stage started.
Kyle Larson wasn't even in the starting field for the All-Star race when the racing started on Saturday as he found himself as one of three drivers who would race their way into the main event by winning one of the three stages in Monster Energy Open held just prior to the start of the All-Star Race. Larson transferred into the main event by winning the last 10-lap stage and was joined by stage winners Bubba Wallace and William Byron.
Larson took advantage of his transfer spot and found himself in contention when the green flag waved to begin the final 15-lap stage of the main event. Only green flag laps counted in the final stage and with just 12 laps remaining, Harvick gave Larson the push he needed on a restart to take the lead. Over the final laps, he was able to hold off charges from Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Harvick to go on and become only the second driver to win the All-Star Race after transferring from the Open as the race's winner.
Larson has struggled this season as he now sits in fifteenth in the point standings which is just twelve points ahead of Jimmie Johnson in sixteenth which is the final transfer spot into the playoff round of ten races that will determine this season's champion. He has registered more DNF's (3) than he has top-5 finishes (1) but he does have four top-10 finishes which shows that he has been competitive at times. He hopes this win could be the beginning of a run of good finishes that could put him into the thick of the playoff picture
PIT NOTES: Some of the best action of the night occurred during the cool-down lap after the race when Clint Bowyer and Ryan Newman showed their displeasure with each other. Contact between the two drivers resulted in Bowyer's car being turned into the outside wall. Once the two cars were on pit road, Bowyer rushed to Newman before he got out of his car and began throwing punches. Newman finally was able to get out of his car but no more punches were thrown. Both drivers had to report to the NASCAR hauler but no fines or penalties were expected to be handed down.