Kevin Harvick won Saturday’s unique Monster Energy NASCAR All Star race from Charlotte Motor Speedway, earning the $1 million-dollar payday for the second time in his career. His last win in the exhibition race at Charlotte was in 2007. The race was unique because of the use of restrictor plates by the Cup series for the first time at Charlotte.
The new aero package brought out Saturday saw slower speeds, but close-quarters racing throughout the entire race, with a lot of beating and banging. In most races, that kind of aggression would’ve led to a plethora of cautions, but the stability of the cars with the taller spoiler behind, allowed them to get away with trading more paint than is usually seen at intermediate tracks.
A six-car wreck on Lap 75, the Stage 3 overtime period, saw Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer make contact battling hard through Turns 3 & 4, in a four-wide situation entering the corner with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. below Truex, and Kurt Bush up against the wall to the outside of Bowyer. Kyle Bush and Brad Keselowski were also caught up in the calamity as the field aggressively tried to make it to a good starting spot for the fourth stage, a shootout of 10 laps to decide who would take home $1 million at the end of it.
Eventual runner-up, Daniel Suarez got a push on the Stage 4 restart from teammate Denny Hamlin. However, their bumpers became disconnected quickly on the opening lap of the stage, while Harvick and Joey Logano found the right mix of speed & push-power. Logano finished third, with Hamlin fourth. Chase Elliott finished All-Star night in fifth.
“I thought on that last restart that my best opportunity was Logano,” Harvick noted. “He’s one of the best on the restarts. I knew he would work with me as good as possible, because that’s just the way that most of us do it from Ford. We were able to just stay even through (Turns) 1 and 2, and I really thought once we got to the backstretch we could clear him. I didn’t want to be on the bottom. I didn’t feel my car was stable enough to be under someone when they were on my right side. I had to take my lumps through 1 and 2 and hope that the guy behind me was still with me when we got to the exit of 2, and we were able to win.”
Harvick also emphasized the importance of controlling the final stretch of the race in order to win.
“We needed to be in control of the race to have a chance at winning,” Harvick said. “If we were third or fourth, we would have been in big trouble. We needed to be on the front row with clean air, because that was the only chance our car would handle good enough. It was so fast.”
The All-Star edition of Track Talk is below.
Up next for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the 59th running of the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway.