NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Charlotte, May 18-20, 2017

NASCAR National Series News & Notes — Charlotte, May 18-20, 2017

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

Truex Picks Up Second Win, Extends Playoff Points Lead

Martin Truex Jr. outlasted Coors Light Pole winner Ryan Blaney to notch his second win of the season in last Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver led a race-high 104 laps and amassed five playoff points with the win. He leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with 15 playoff points – via his two victories and series-leading five stage wins – three more than Kansas runner-up Brad Keselowski’s 12.

Truex ranks second in the overall Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 44 markers below leader Kyle Larson.

The New Jersey native takes the track again in Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

 

Monster Mash: Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race Ready To Roar At Charlotte

Mid-May is an exciting time of the year for the NASCAR World. It means it’s time for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

This year’s Monster Energy All-Star Race consists of four stages. The first three stages are 20 laps, while the final stage is 10 laps. Only green flag laps will be counted in the final stage.

The final stage consists of 10 drivers: stage winners on the lead lap at the end of the third stage, and drivers with the best average finish in the first three stages

Pit road will be open for the final stage. Starting positions for the final stage will be determined by the exit off pit road.

Each team will receive one set of softer tires for use during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star race. Teams that use these tires for the final stages will start behind the teams that use the primary tires.

 The All-Star field consists of 2016 and 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race winners, past all-star winners, past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions, the NASCAR fan vote winner and the three stage winners in the Monster Energy Open.

 

Monster Energy Open Set For Saturday

The Monster Energy Open (6 p.m. ET on FS1) will occur prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday. It includes three stages (20 laps/20 laps/10 laps). The winner of each stage earns a spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race. The Monster Energy Open field will be set by two rounds of traditional knockout qualifying.

 

Cream Of The Crop: 10 Active Drivers Have Won The All-Star Race

Ten active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers have won the All-Star Race and taken home the $1 million that comes with the victory.

 Leading the pack is Jimmie Johnson, who boasts a record four Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race victories. The other past winners have all won once: Joey Logano (2016), Denny Hamlin (2015), Jamie McMurray (2014), Kurt Busch (2010), Kasey Kahne (2008), Kevin Harvick (2007), Matt Kenseth (2003), Ryan Newman (2002) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2000).

 Six drivers who have already qualified for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race will search for their first win in the event: Kyle Busch, Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr. and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

Blaney Dazzles At Another 1.5-Miler

Saturday’s Go Bowling 400 provided déjà vu for Ryan Blaney.

 Similar to the previous Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at a 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway, Blaney flashed dominance for a large portion of the contest, but couldn’t close out the victory. The 23-year-old Wood Brothers Racing driver led 83 laps from the pole and won Stage 2, but was passed for the lead by Martin Truex Jr. with 18 go-arounds remaining and eventually finished fourth.

 In the Texas race last month, Blaney led a race-high 148 laps and won the first two stages, but ended up finishing 12th.

 Blaney, an alumnus of the NASCAR Next initiative, sits 11th in the series standings – 184 points behind leader Kyle Larson. He is tied with Kevin Harvick for second in the series with three stage wins. Martin Truex Jr. leads the series with five stage wins.

 Blaney’s pole was the first of his career and the first for Wood Brothers Racing since Ricky Rudd claimed the first starting spot at Talladega on April 25, 2004.

 

Larson Maintains Points Lead Following Another Top-10 Finish

Kyle Larson produced his seventh top-10 finish of the season at Kansas with a sixth-place showing.

 After 11 races, Larson continues to lead the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings. He is followed by Martin Truex Jr. (44 points behind Larson), Brad Keselowski (-67), Chase Elliott (-114) and Jamie McMurray (-121). Kevin Harvick (-128), Kyle Busch (-150), Jimmie Johnson (-152), Joey Logano (-155) and Clint Bowyer (-158) round out the top 10.

 Larson boasts one win, five top fives, seven top 10s and a series-leading 6.9 average finish in 11 starts this season. He’s led 366 laps.

Suarez Ties Career-Best Finish

Daniel Suarez tied his career-best finish with a seventh-place showing last weekend at Kansas. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver also finished seventh at Phoenix and Auto Club earlier this year.

 Suarez has jumped out to the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. He holds a 12-point advantage over second-place Ty Dillon and a 15-point edge on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones.

 The No. 19 Toyota driver has climbed to 19th in the points standings, 33 points behind Trevor Bayne on the playoff cutoff line.

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