NEWS: Kyle Busch won the 2017 Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and earned the $1 million prize that came with it. The win was Busch’s first in the annual exhibition race featuring a select field of drivers, and his first Monster Energy Cup Series win of any kind at Charlotte.
Busch took control of Saturday night’s Monster Energy All-Star Race on the final restart with 10 laps left and motored away to a 1.274-second victory. (The race was live televised on DSport)
It was definitely a thrilling night for Busch, who had never won a NASCAR Cup event at the 1.5-mile oval raceway. It also showed that Joe Gibbs Racing, which has not won a Cup points race this year, still has the strength and possibly has closed on the competition.
“We’ve never won at Charlotte in a Cup car and we finally achieved that goal tonight,” an elated Busch said in Victory Lane. “I won the All-Star Race. I won a million bucks. There’s reason to celebrate and reason to celebrate big’’.
Busch powered his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to the inside of Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford—the race leader on old tires—as the field roared toward Turn 1 on the final restart. Through the first two corners, he cleared both Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, who had restarted second on the outside to gain the race lead in the clean air.
Busch continued to create separation during the final few laps and clinched his win over second-place finisher Kyle Larson and third-place finisher Jimmie Johnson. Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10.
The full results can be found at NASCAR’s official website.
Though Johnson pursued with an intensity befitting the $1 million first prize, he was unable to catch Busch. Kyle Larson, the winner of the first two 20-lap stages of the 70-lap non-points event, passed Johnson for second place on the final lap.
With the highest average finish in the first three 20-lap stages, Larson was first onto pit road during the final break. But a small glitch during the stop cost him three positions in the pits, and with Keselowski staying out because he had no fresh tires available, Larson restarted fifth with little chance to get to the front of the final 10-lap stage.
“My pit crew has been awesome all year, and I don’t want to take anything away from them,” Larson said. “We came down pit road the leader, and three people passed us. That was pretty much the difference there. But in 10 laps… track position is huge.
“We just didn’t have it there at the end. We had the best car out there, for sure. In traffic, I thought it was really good. I thought we had it most of the race, but that’s how racing goes. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. But I think we had a really fast car today. We’ll go onto the 600—that’s a long race—and try it again.”
Some of the most dramatic racing of the evening took place in the Monster Open, the 50-lap, three-stage qualifying race that preceded the main event. Clint Bowyer and Ryan Blaney won the first two stages and advanced to the All-Star Race.
Early in the final 10-lap stage, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, and Erik Jones were battling for the lead as they entered the tri-oval. Moving to the inside in an attempt to get past Elliott, Jones clipped the infield grass and ruined his chances when the splitter dug in.
Suarez went on to win the stage and made the main event. Elliott was the final addition to the Monster Energy All-Star race field via the Fan Vote.