NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway: What you need to know

The five fastest of the 16 drivers who qualified in Round 1 advanced to the second and final round.

Larson had an average speed of 144.839 miles per hour over three laps Friday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Kyle Busch, who like Larson is looking for his first all-star win, will start on the outside of Row 1. It marks the first time Larson will lead the field to the green flag in Saturday night's annual exhibition race, featuring a select lineup of 20 drivers.

NASCAR's most popular driver 14 years running seems relaxed just weeks after announcing he'd leave cup racing full time after the season.

Kyle Larson, surrounded by the Monster Energy Girls, holds the trophy after winning the pole for Saturday's Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star race during Friday's qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

"Getting the pole is pretty sweet", Larson said.

"I knew everybody would try to push a little bit harder that last round", Larson said of the two-round session.

Typically among the least flashy cars on race weekends, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s No. 88 will sport a snappy new look for the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race on Saturday.

While it is admirable of the sanctioning body to pursue better racing for its fans, one hopes this experiment doesn't blow up in its face.

This year's new angle for the race, which has rivaled Hollywood actors when it comes to facelifts, will be the use of an option tire - a Goodyear radial with softer tread that will generate speeds up to a half-a-second per lap faster.

The All-Star race will have four segments - 20 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps then a 10-lap finale. The first stage of 20 laps gets the victor an automatic big to the All Star race (with $1 million on the line), as does a second 20 lap section.

The strategy will be whether to use them early to get into the final 10-lap shootout or wait until the end. "I'm looking forward to this weekend, for sure, in our debut with our M&M'S Caramel vehicle", Busch said. He said they aren't as fast as he thought they would be in practice, giving only three-tenths of the second advantage over the older tires.

He said drivers also love it because they can throw out the rulebook - not the whole thing, obviously, but it's part of what makes the race different.

  • Julie Sanders