By David Morgan, Associate Editor
For the second year in a row, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the annual NASCAR All-Star Race, where a $1 million payday awaits the winner of Sunday night’s non-points exhibition race.
A total of 24 drivers will compete in the four-round, 100 lap event, with eligible drivers including those who won a points-paying racing in 2021 or 2022, full-time drivers that have previously won an All-Star Race, and former Cup Series champions who still race full time.
Drivers that met the above criteria and gained automatic entry into the race include: AJ Allmendinger, Aric Almirola, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Martin Truex Jr., and Bubba Wallace.
Joining those automatic entrants will be the winners of the three segments of the All-Star Open, along with the winner of the Fan Vote to complete the field for the main event.
The format for the 38th running of the All-Star Race has undergone a Texas-sized remake this year, with the race proceeding as follows:
- Stages 1 through 3 will be 25 laps each, with a 50-lap final stage
- The winner of each of the first three stages will start first, second, and third in the final stage, given they finish better than 15th stage that follows their win
- A special stage break will occur between Stage 2 and 3, in which a pit stop competition will take place.
- During the pit stop competition, each team must pit and perform a four-tire stop. The team with the shortest time on pit road (pit in/pit out) wins the pit crew award and the driver will start fourth in the final stage as long as he finishes 15th or better in Stage 3.
- If a “natural” caution occurs between laps 15-25 of the final stage, standard race procedures will be in effect. If no “natural” caution occurs during that time, NASCAR will call an “All Star” competition caution to bunch the field back up.
- Winner of the final stage takes home the $1 million prize.
The NASCAR Open will immediately precede the NASCAR All-Star Race and will consist of three stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps). Each segment winner will advance to the NASCAR All-Star Race as will the winner of the Fan Vote.
While Sunday may be the main event, the action kicks off on Saturday night with a revamped, elimination-style qualifying format to set the field of drivers already locked in.
- Qualifying begins with traditional single-car, one-lap format in reverse order of the current 2022 owner points.
- Fastest eight qualifiers will then transfer to a three-round, head-to-head elimination bracket.
- The elimination bracket will feature two cars staged in adjacent pit stalls near the end of pit road.
- At the sound of an alert, each pit crew will perform a four-tire stop and, at the drop of the jack, drivers will exit their pit stalls (with no speed limit) onto the track.
- First car back to the start/finish line advances to the next round.
- Final pairing competes for the pole.
“The NASCAR All-Star Race highlights our best athletes — from the driver to road crew to the pit crews — and this year’s edition brings that to another level,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Sr. Vice President, Competition. “Fans will have a full weekend of exciting competition starting with a unique qualifying format and an All-Star Race that features the top talent in our sport.”
“The incredible intensity of the drivers and teams as well as the Texas-sized excitement from our race fans is what makes the NASCAR All-Star Race just that much more special,” Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Rob Ramage added.
“The never-seen-before qualifying format will put even more pressure on drivers and pits crews to perform at their peak. Combining that with the easier-to-follow race format will create more action-packed competition for race fans at Texas Motor Speedway and those watching on FS1 as they watch their favorite drivers battle to earn a $1 million payday.”
By the Numbers
What: NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race
Where: Texas Motor Speedway – Fort Worth, Texas (Opened: 1997)
TV/Radio: FOX Sports 1, 8:00 pm ET / PRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Channel 90 (All-Star Open: 5:30 pm ET)
Track Size: 1.5-mile quad oval
Banking: Turn 1-2 banked 20 degrees, Turn 3-4 banked 24 degrees
Race Length: Main event: 125 laps – All-Star Open: 50 laps
Stage Lengths: Main event: 25 laps (Stage 1-3), 50 laps (Final stage); All-Star Open: 20 laps/20 laps/10 laps
2021 All-Star Race Winner: Kyle Larson – No. 5 Chevrolet (Started on pole, 17 laps led)
2021 Fall Texas Winner: Kyle Larson – No. 5 Chevrolet (Started on pole, 256 laps led)
From the Driver’s Seat
“The All-Star Race each year is one of the highlights of our sport, no matter where it is,” said Brad Keselowski. “Despite the format changes from year to year, it’s an action-packed short sprint for bragging rights and a boost in morale to be able to go out and beat the best of the best. We’ve been close there over the years, and can’t wait to see what we’ve got in the Kohler Generators Ford come Sunday.”
Last Year’s All-Star Race
If anyone was going to win last year’s All-Star Race at Texas, they were going to have to get through Hendrick Motorsports to do so. All four Hendrick drivers won a segment before the final 10-lap shootout for the win.
Chase Elliott led the way to start the final stage, but Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski made a daring three-wide pass with eight laps remaining as the two drivers were determined to settle the race between themselves.
Keselowski got to Larson’s bumper a number of times, but was ultimately unable to make the pass to take the win and the money, finishing .206-seconds behind Larson, who scored his second All-Star win in the last three seasons.
Elliott finished the race in third, followed by Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney rounding out the top-five.
“I can’t — honestly, I can’t believe it,” Larson said. “That second run there, we were really bad, and I was like, man, we’re in trouble. I went backwards that round. I was like, this is — we got an uphill battle and did not imagine seeing myself winning this race today, but Cliff and everybody worked so hard on this thing, made some good adjustments throughout those second and third rounds and got us in position.
“That last restart worked out exactly how I needed it to. I wanted Chase to not get a good run down the back. Thankfully I think the 12 got to his inside, and I just shoved him down the back and he probably thought I was going to just follow him and I was like, There’s got to be enough grip where we’d be running for one corner. It was a little slick up there but I was able to get it and hold him off from there. I can’t believe it.”
While he wasn’t able to cash in on the $1 million prize for himself, Keselowski was still happy with finishing second to Larson, given the outright speed that Larson and the rest of the Hendrick cars showed at Texas.
“It feels like just to run second to the Hendrick cars right now is kind of an accomplishment,” Keselowski said. “They’re just stupid fast, and I had him off of Turn 4 but they just have so much speed. He just motored right on back by me, like damn.
“But feels like a first-in-class day with the Discount Tire Ford. Jeremy Bullins and the team did a great job of executing and getting us in position. We just didn’t have enough speed to make the most of it, but good execution day and I’m proud of that.”
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
- Saturday, May 21
- Combined Open and All-Star Practice (7:00 pm – FOX Sports 1)
- NASCAR All-Star Open Qualifying (7:35 pm – FOX Sports 1)
- NASCAR All-Star Race Qualifying (7:55 pm – FOX Sports 1)
- NASCAR All-Star Elimination Bracket Qualifying (8:25 pm – FOX Sports 1)
- Sunday, May 22
- NASCAR All-Star Open (5:30 pm – 20 laps/20 laps/10 laps – FOX Sports 1)
- NASCAR All-Star Race (8:00 pm – 25 laps/25 laps/25 laps/50 laps – FOX Sports 1)