CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 18: Clint Bowyer, driver of the #14 Stewart-Haas Racing Fan Club Ford, practices for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

This Saturday, one of the most anticipated events of the NASCAR season will take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Monster Energy Cup Series comes into town as some of the best drivers in the series will compete for $1,000,000, and we have everything someone might need to know about Saturday’s races.

Chevy’s try to race into Stacked All-Star Race Field

Qualifying

Qualifying this year will be a combined effort from both open and all-star race drivers. It can be seen Friday afternoon at 6:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

UPDATE: Open Qualifying has been cancelled due to rain, All-Star Race Qualifying is scheduled to start at 6:45 p.m. ET still. As of May 18, 2018 @ 2:35 p.m. ET.

The Open

TV Information
Date: Saturday, May 19
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Format: Three segments (20 laps | 20 laps | 10 laps)
The Winner of each segment will advance to the All-Star Race.

All-Star Open Starting Lineup
1. Aric Almirola
2. Erik Jones
3. Alex Bowman
4. Chase Elliott
5. Paul Menard
6. William Byron
7. Daniel Suarez
8. Darrell Wallace Jr.
9. A.J. Allmendinger
10. David Ragan
11. Chris Buescher
12. Michael McDowell
13. Matt Dibenedetto
14. Ty Dillon
15. Corey LaJoie
16. Ross Chastain
17. Landon Cassill
18. Gray Gaulding
19. B.J. McLeod
20. Reed Sorenson
21. Timmy Hill

The All-Star Open format hasn’t changed for this season. Like last year, the three winners of the three Open segments will race their way into the show. The question is just, which young gun will break out of their shell and race into it?

The Open is stacked with a variety of young, unproven cup drivers that will be able to showcase themselves without the big talent on the track.

Aric Almirola

Almirola is the perfect example of this. Stewart-Haas Racing has been the most dominant team in the series this season. With the big dogs already qualified, look for Almirola to punch his ticket early.

Chase Elliott’s Past Great Runs

Much like the theory about Almirola, Chase Elliott has thrived in the Open in the past, he just doesn’t yet have a segment win. For the past two season’s, Elliott has been voted into the All-Star Race, but this year, I predict that the youngster will race his way in.

The Chevrolets won’t be outnumbered

Over half the field, 12 of 21 cars to be exact, of the Open is made up of Chevrolets. If that’s alarming, it should be. Chevy’s performance this season has been down all over the place. Since the manufacturer has so many cars with a lot of talent in the Open, look for them to dominate. If they can’t, then Chevy will absolutely need to change their methods.

The Fan vote

This year’s Monster Energy Fan Vote is one of the most wide-open votes that the series has seen over the years. If Chase Elliott races his way in, there are a variety of drivers who could be picked.

Past Fan Vote Winners
2017:
Chase Elliott
2016: Chase Elliott
2015: Danica Patrick
2014: Josh Wise
2008: Kasey Kahne (Winner)

Obviously, Chase Elliott would be the favorite to win the vote if he didn’t race his way in, but below we break down the potential winners for this season.

Alex Bowman or William Byron

The two Hendrick Drivers bring a pair of the most and newest iconic car numbers that NASCAR has to offer. With Byron driving Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 and Bowman wheeling the No. 88 of Dale Earnhardt Jr., keep an eye on these two to get voted in.

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Darrell Wallace Jr. is under the same canopy of driving a car with an iconic number. However, I didn’t include him with the Hendrick camp because I think he is gathering his own group of fans. After his runner-up finish in the Daytona 500, he has been followed very closely by media members and fans. I think he is definitely up there on the fan-vote list.

Matt Dibenedetto

Remember four years ago when the NASCAR on Reddit community voted Josh Wise and DogeCoin into the All-Star Race? Well, the popular message board site could be back again. They are back again to vote for Matt Dibenedetto and with the growing size of the community, he could very well find himself in the big show.

2018 All-Star Race

TV Information
Date: Saturday, May 19
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
TV: Fox Sports 1
Format: Four segments (30 laps | 20 laps | 20 laps | 10 laps)

All-Star Race Starting Lineup
1. Matt Kenseth
2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
3. Clint Bowyer
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Martin Truex Jr.
6. Ryan Blaney
7. Kyle Busch
8. Brad Keselowski
9. Austin Dillon
10. Joey Logano
11. Denny Hamlin
12. Jimmie Johnson
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Ryan Newman
15. Kasey Kahne
16. Kurt Busch
17. Kyle Larson
18. All-Star Open Segment 1 winner
19. All-Star Open Segment 2 winner
20. All-Star Open Segment 3 winner
21. Monster Energy Fan Vote winner

The New Aero Package

NASCAR is experimenting with a new Aero package for the Cup series cars this weekend, that is actually quite familiar for fans. The package includes a new, six-inch spoiler with eight-inch ears, similar to the ones that sit on NASCAR Xfinity Series cars each week. It also includes the 2014 splitter design, a restrictor plate, and more.

Although, the series cannot implement the new aero package before the start of the 2019 season, there has been a lot of push behind possibly seeing this as the new norm for the cup cars.

Another first time winner?

2014: Jamie McMurray
2015: Denny Hamlin
2016: Joey Logano
2017: Kyle Busch

For four years in a row, the All-Star Race has seen someone new in victory lane. Whether it be the heavy powers of Kyle Busch or the upset of Jamie McMurray, anything can happen at Charlotte. This year’s potential first time winners who are qualified for the All-Star Race already include Brad Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson, and Martin Truex Jr.

Matt Kenseth

Matt Kenseth returns to the All-Star Race for the 18th consecutive season, which is a record for the most starts in the event. Kevin Harvick also holds the record as he makes his 18th start on Saturday. Although, Kenseth didn’t officially have plans to race in it, Roush is making the most of the opportunity. Kenseth’s car will feature a throwback to Mark Martin’s first All-Star Race, as Roush sponsors the car.

Kasey Kahne’s honors his 2008 All-Star Race Paint Scheme

For the fans that remember the glory days of Kasey Kahne’s career that stocked so much potential, they will get a chance to relive them on Saturday. Kahne is rolling into Charlotte with a new paint scheme that flashes back to his 2008 win in the All-Star Race. Kahne became the first Fan-Vote winner to ever steal the show.

Again, fans can catch the All-Star Race at 8:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1 this Saturday, with the Open starting at 6:00 p.m. ET.

MAIN PHOTO:
Embed from Getty Images

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