By: Charlotte Motor Speedway
In a race full of stars, Kyle Larson shined brightest in Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After a stirring drive to the front from the rear of the field, Larson held off Kevin Harvick over the final laps to become the first driver to win the Monster Energy Open and the All-Star Race on the same night. The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet made moves high, low and in the middle to assume the point in the final 15-lap dash for $1 million.
Harvick reeled in Larson over the final circuits but wasn’t able to make a pass to capture his second consecutive All-Star Race triumph, finishing a scant 0.322 seconds in arrears of Larson – who won in a Monster Energy Cup Series car for the first time since 2017.
Larson had to sweat out advancing into the All-Star Race, taking a car he believed was the event’s best and having to fight out a win in the final stage of the Monster Energy Open to advance to the big show. From there, Larson quickly asserted himself – moving into seventh before the first stage ended.
Harvick appeared to be the man to beat for much of the night. His pink, Millennial-themed machine had the measure of the field in the early going before a loose wheel robbed Harvick of track position.
Amid three- and four-wide battles through the pack and exciting, wheel-to-wheel racing previously reserved for tracks larger than 1.5 miles, the 35th running of the biggest all-star event in sports delivered in spectacular style – particularly for the race winner, whose Victory Lane drought came to an end in lucrative fashion.
Following Larson and Harvick, who led a race-high 33 laps, Kyle Busch finished third after hitting the wall late in the race. Joey Logano, the 2016 race winner and defending series champion, was fourth. Bubba Wallace – in his first All-Star Race after winning Stage 2 of the Open-ended up fifth in Richard Petty Motorsports’ first All-Star Race since 2015.
KYLE LARSON, No. 42 Advent Health Chevrolet (Race Winner): “Gosh, after the year we’ve had, I wouldn’t have guessed that we would get our first win at the All-Star Race. But the way the format is and how crazy the race is, it kinda helps us out. We always seem to run good on this weekend, so it just feels like a big relief to finally get a win. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to victory lane in a stock car. After being close to winning this race a couple years ago and then allowing Joey (Logano) to get by, it feels really good to get some redemption. … What makes this race so exciting is the short runs, people are going crazy. Even though it’s a 20-lap run, there’s still a caution or two in each segment because everybody is just going nuts. The restarts were wild.”
CHAD JOHNSTON, No. 42 Advent Health Chevrolet (Winning Crew Chief): “It was a good time for us. We’ve had a rough year. We’ve had a lot more speed than we’ve shown in points, obviously. We haven’t been able to string together any finishes until as of late. We come off a third-place finish in Dover and a seventh-place finish at Kansas, and with the exception of Phoenix, those are the only races we haven’t had issues. To come here to the All-Star Race and to be able to take home a million dollars is huge for us and hopefully a stake in the ground for a turning point for us.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Beer Millennial Car Ford (Runner-Up): “That’s how you take the fastest car and don’t win the race with it. We had an incredible Busch Beer Ford. (Crew chief) Rodney (Childers) and the guys on the team did an incredible job. It was unfortunate. The guys did a great job preparing a race car, and we weren’t ready to make a pit stop on pit road tonight. We just need to be ready to race; we’ve done it all year. We just need to show up (and not) have it be a disaster. They’ve been great all year and tonight wasn’t great, that’s for sure. We spotted the whole field and started tail-back with 15 laps to go. Once they get single-file, as soon as they drive in your lane, they’d push up a groove, so you’ve got to go where they aren’t. (Larson) was fast enough to run the bottom, and that’s where I needed to run to really make time.”
KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Hazelnut Spread Toyota (Third-Place Finisher): “We had a really fast M&Ms Camry. Probably was the only guy to pass for the lead after a given set of laps. On restarts, we couldn’t go anywhere. We just weren’t fast enough, but we had long-run speed. That’s all there is to it.”