Chase Elliott, who has received the fan vote to earn a bid into the NASCAR All-Big name Race the previous 3 years, can’t win it this yr after incomes an automated spot within the 19-car box.
That stands as just right information for individuals who haven’t certified, growing authentic intrigue of who may earn the overall spot in the primary 90-lap exhibition race Saturday night time at Charlotte Motor Speedway. However the ones drivers most commonly don’t wish to pay attention that as a result of successful the fan vote delivers a blended bag of emotions for competition who know they may use their proportion of the $1 million winner’s handbag and really feel thankful for fan reinforce but additionally face the harsh realization they didn’t race their means into the sector.
Fifteen drivers have robotically certified as regular-season race winners from 2018-2019, former All-Big name winners or previous Cup champions.
The rest drivers vie for a place in the course of the 50-lap Monster Power Open (Saturday, 6 p.m. ET), with every of the 3 level winners incomes a bid to the Monster Power NASCAR All-Big name Race (eight p.m. ET). Then a place stays for the driving force with probably the most on-line votes thru midday Friday, some way for NASCAR to have a similarity to different sports activities’ all-star occasions.
(From left to proper) Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, and AJ Allmendinger received the phases within the 2018 Monster Power Open, whilst Chase Elliott (proper) received the fan vote to qualify for the NASCAR All-Big name Race. (Picture: Brian Lawdermilk, Getty Photographs)
Some drivers want they were not on poll
For a motive force reminiscent of Kyle Larson, who has five career Cup wins but hasn’t won since September 2017 at Richmond Raceway, winning the fan vote would rank, well, as just another sign of his losing streak.
“I’d rather not rely on the fan vote,” said the 27-year-old, who was second in voting as of Thursday afternoon. “I actually wish they didn’t have the fan vote. … I’m a competitor, so if I don’t make into the All-Star Race, I really don’t feel like I deserve to be in it.
“It’s great I’m second in the fan vote, and it would be nice to feel like I have the most fans in the B-Main, but it’s whatever.”
Alex Bowman, who has finished second in the three races leading into the All-Star Race, has gone from third in the voting as of May 7 to lead the voting as of Thursday. The 26-year-old has some popularity as Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s handpicked replacement to wheel the Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 88 car.
“We’re going to win before that,” Bowman said prior to the Kansas race, where he nearly made good on his prediction. “Don’t vote for me.
“Can I just take my name off the ballot? I just want to go win and race my way in, the way it should be.”
Social media engagement could be key
Matt DiBenedetto, who has used the fan vote to try to shed the “DiBurrito” nickname people gave him in favor of his preferred nickname of Guido (his middle name), was leading the voting as of May 7 but sat third Thursday afternoon.
“(Racing in) is the ultimate goal and the plan,” 28-year-old DiBenedetto said. “But it is also nice to have the support of everybody and the ‘Vote for Guido’ campaign and the cool response we got to the nickname.”
When Josh Wise upset Danica Patrick for the fan vote in 2014, he had the support of the Reddit internet community with his cryptocurrency Dogecoin scheme. DiBenedetto has used the internet forum to engage fans, and it appears to have paid dividends.
“You’ve got guys like DiBenedetto that hacks Reddit and Reddit hacks the voting system and he’s going to win,” said Bowman, who wasn’t implying anything nefarious when sitting third a week ago. “I think Matty D has got it in the bag.
“You see what Josh did with Reddit support five years ago? Having the support of internet forums is pretty big when it comes to online votes.”
Bubba Wallace, the only full-time African-American driver, was fourth in the voting as of Thursday afternoon and William Byron, Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, was fifth.
WALLACE: Cries while discussing struggles on and off track
OPINION: Suarez embracing opportunity, grabbing spotlight at Stewart-Haas Racing
Experimenting for All-Star Race and future
Racing into the All-Star exhibition appears as unpredictable as the fan vote. NASCAR will use the All-Star Race to experiment with two pieces that it might want to use in its new 2021 car. One is a radiator duct system that comes out through the hood, which potentially could cool the engine enough that teams could use an engine for more races (cutting costs). Cars also will have a single-piece carbon fiber front splitter/pan that can impact front downforce.
NASCAR issued the pieces in the last two weeks to the teams in order to keep them from working with them in the wind tunnel.
So if a driver doesn’t get a handle on the changes, he will have to rely on the fan vote. Kasey Kahne is the only driver since NASCAR instituted fan voting in 2004 to win the $1 million prize after getting in the race with the fan vote.
“You can’t turn it down,” Larson said. “It would be cool to get the fan vote, but I would feel a little embarrassed by it as well.”
Bob Pockrass is a FOX Sports NASCAR reporter. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.