Clint Bowyer knows exactly what’s on the line Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in the 35th annual NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star Race.
“One million dollars to the winner,” said Bowyer, who’ll drive the No. 14 Toco Warranty Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the annual race first contested in 1985. “Let that sink in. If you win this thing, you get a million dollars. That’s life-changing money and what I call a heck of an incentive.”
The non-points race has always produced some of the most dramatic moments in the sport’s history, as well as an opportunity to test future rules like night racing, double file restarts, and aerodynamic packages in actual racing conditions. This year’s event includes all 2018 and 2019 Cup Series race winners, former All-Star Race winners competing full-time, and former Monster Energy Cup Series champions competing full-time. Bowyer’s 2018 victories at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in April and Michigan Speedway in Brooklyn in August ensured he gets to bypass Saturday night’s Monster Energy Open. Fifteen drivers, including Bowyer’s SHR teammates Kevin Harvick and Aric Almirola, are in the All-Star Race as of now with four more spots to be added – the three stage winners from the Open, and the winner of the NASCAR Fan Vote.
This year’s race will feature a modified rules package NASCAR anticipates including as part of its upcoming seventh-generation racecar set to arrive in 2021. The All-Star Race will again have four stages with a five-lap increase in the final stage over last year’s race. The stages will last 30 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps and 15 laps. All green-flag and yellow-flag laps will count in Stages 1 to 3 and only green-flag laps in the final stage. NASCAR overtime rules will be in effect for Stages 1 to 3. In the final stage, if the race is restarted with two or fewer laps remaining, there will be unlimited attempts at a green, white, checkered finish under green-flag conditions.
NASCAR is also adding a single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan intended to improve ride height sensitivity for cars. The splitter is to provide a more stable aero platform and create a more consistent performance in traffic. A new radiator duct is the second element, which exits through the hood, as opposed to the current design that exits into the engine compartment. This feature is intended to improve aerodynamic parity and reduce engine temperatures.
With that much prize money, experimentation and no points worries, the racing is sure to be as intense as any during the year. Bowyer’s new sponsor Toco Warranty might be the perfect partner Saturday night. The company offers practical and straightforward vehicle service contracts with pay-as-you-go monthly plans.
“We figured there would be no better place for Toco Warranty to make its debut than last month at Talladega, where we were pretty sure there would be a lot of drivers with damaged vehicles. Unfortunately, I was one of them,” said Bowyer, whose car suffered extensive damage in a lap-10 accident and ended the race 25th. “Toco Warranty is on our car again this weekend for the All-Star Race, and I’m pretty sure someone is going to need help with their car after this race with everything that is on the line Saturday night. There could be some bent sheet metal.”
While dealing with bent sheet metal is just part of life for a NASCAR team, an unexpected car repair could really throw a wrench into race fans’ plans. Toco Warranty keeps drivers and their cars on the road with pay-as-you-go plans that are easy, simple and affordable. Customers can visit www.TocoWarranty.com to review their vehicle service contract, manage online monthly payments and access dedicated customer concierge services.
While at the site, race fans should check out the new Toco All-Star Sweepstakes announced this week, where one lucky winner and a guest will attend the season finales of both the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
The winner will be hosted by Tony Stewart Racing (TSR) for the World of Outlaws World Finals Nov. 8 to 9 at The Dirt Track near Charlotte, North Carolina, before jetting off to South Florida to see the NASCAR season finale Nov. 16 to 17 in Homestead, Florida with SHR. Toco Warranty will provide VIP access that includes round-trip airfare, hotel accommodations, a rental car and event tickets. Tony Stewart, owner of TSR and co-owner of SHR, will be at both events, where the sweepstakes winner will see the three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion in action as an owner, facilitating meet-and-greets with 10-time and reigning World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz at Charlotte and 10-time NASCAR Cup Series race winner Bowyer at Homestead.
To register, fans simply need to go to www.TocoWarranty.com. A winner will be drawn by 5 p.m. EDT Sept. 16.
Of course, the All-Star Race is a warmup for the May 26 Coca-Cola 600 – the longest race on the circuit. Bowyer is ninth in points after finishing fifth at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City last Saturday night. He hopes to climb even higher and win one of the sport’s most prestigious races.
“I think it’s helpful having that All-Star Race ahead of that big, long, grueling 600-mile race that’s a points race,” Bowyer said. “The All-Star Race always has those kinds of stages and short runs, so it helps you kind of get ready for next weekend’s race that will have four stages. Plus, having that practice time on the racetrack is definitely going to be key to learning about the track and preparing for the 600.”