Look, I get it: you don’t know every little rule for this year’s All-Star Race.
It’s not like they’re easy to remember. Sure, there were little alterations to the format here and there in the early days of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ annual all-star event, but these days, it can be tough to keep track of what the exact format is for the All-Star Race each year. Hey, at least this one keeps pretty much the same name no matter the changes. Yeah, that’s a shudder going down your spine as you recall when the season-opening *Insert Sponsor Name Here* Clash was renamed the Sprint Unlimited.
Luckily, the 2018 All-Star Race isn’t too terribly tough to comprehend. Yes, it’s still at Charlotte Motor Speedway. No, the roval isn’t involved (though I would straight-up not be mad at a combination oval/roval race where one stage is on one course and one stage is on another). Yes, there are restrictor plates. No, the format lengths aren’t exactly the same (not that you probably could remember how long they were last year anyway).
Chances are you’re the type who couldn’t care less what the format is going in to the All-Star Race, as long as it’s explained to you during, and the race itself remains entertaining. To that end, most fans out there aren’t too worried about understanding things beforehand — if they’re even watching an exhibition race at all.
But if you want to impress your friends or something, here’s what’s going down Saturday night in Charlotte:
-Restrictor plates at Charlotte? Yep, it’s true. The goal is reportedly to equal the competition a bit. Not that that’s generally much of an issue in the All-Star Race since most everyone in the field is on a fairly equal playing field going in anyway, but this should, in theory, turn the knob to 11.
-Other changes to the aero package for the race include a 2014 splitter, different air ducts and a new 6-inch spoiler with so-called ear extensions measuring 12 inches on each side.
-Did you see the 2017 XFINITY Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway? OK, imagine that, but on Charlotte and with the Cup Series.
-As a whole, the All-Star Race will run 10 laps longer than it did in 2017. We’re looking at four stages: 30 laps, 20, 20 and 10. The 10-lap stage will have only laps completed under a green flag count toward its tally. Also: the usual overtime rules in place at all Cup races are in effect for the end of each and every stage, not just the last stage.
-You’ve already seen the entry list by now, but the allowances for who is and isn’t eligible is the same as last year: 2017 and 2018 race winners, former All-Star Race winners still running full-time in the Cup Series, former series champions, the stage winners of the pre-All-Star Race qualifying event (three total) and Chase Ellio–I mean, the fan vote winner.
-The fan vote closes May 18 at 11:59 p.m. ET, so don’t wait until the day of the actual race to try to knock your favorite into the field.
-No mandatory pit stops. But, uh, definitely pit at some point.
-The field order is the field order. No inversions at the ends of stages this year.