CONCORD, N.C. – Through the years, the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race has generated some of the most-memorable moments and spectacular highlight reels in the history of the sport.
The Pass in the Grass, the Tide Slide, One Hot Night and T-Rex are just a few of the events that have become household terms and remain etched in the minds of NASCAR fans to this day.
Though 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch certainly counts his 2017 All-Star Race victory among one of his personal favorite memories of the annual invitational, he grew up watching many of the other great All-Star Races as a kid and shared some of those ahead of Saturday.
“There’s been a lot of them that I’ve enjoyed, but I think T-Rex is probably the coolest one for me,” said Busch, referencing the 1997 race won by Jeff Gordon, who carried a Jurassic Park paint scheme that night and whose car was so dominant that after Gordon won the race, NASCAR officials told Hendrick Motorsports never to bring it back to the race track again.
“I was a huge Jurassic Park fan. I still am to this day,” Busch noted. “(Son) Brexton is as well too. We’ve watched all the Jurassic Park movies and Jurassic World movies, so we love that. To see how dominant that car was and how fast that car was and it being with Jeff Gordon, who was my favorite driver growing up as a kid, was pretty cool to watch. I loved that one.”
Coincidentally, another of Busch’s favorite All-Star Race memories was one in which Gordon didn’t reach the checkered flag first, the 1998 edition where he was passed for the win as his gas tank ran dry.
“Probably one of the biggest heartbreak ones that I remember watching was Gordon and the Chromalusion car, where he ran out of gas going into turn one on the last lap,” Busch recalled. “Mark Martin ended up winning. If you draw that out further, another heartbreak moment would have been the year that (Dale) Earnhardt was in the silver car and him and DW (Darrell Waltrip) and Jeff Gordon crashed out of turn four or something like that.
“Obviously the Davey (Allison) and Kyle Petty sparks flying, that was the first under the lights,” Busch continued. “There were a lot of cool memories that I remember from the All-Star race. It’s been pretty cool watching all of those, but I always dreamed of being able to win an All-Star race. I finally was able to get it done myself … and that was such a cool feeling a few years ago.”
All in all, Busch has counted Charlotte Motor Speedway among his favorite places to come to and race at for many years, considering he has 17 victories across NASCAR’s top three series at CMS over the years.
He noted that the atmosphere is equally as special at the 1.5-mile quad-oval, especially under the lights.
“This is a cool place,” said Busch. “It comes on Memorial Day weekend. It’s just a special time. This was kind of about the point in the season where you really started to see more night racing. We always had Richmond as a night race … and then you’d always look forward to Charlotte being a night race, especially at a mile-and-a-half. In the later 90s, you got Daytona that went to a night race.
“I just like Saturday night racing. I think it’s cool. I think it is fun. It’s something I enjoy.”