Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Up to Speed: Previewing the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

Over the 36-year lifespan of the NASCAR All-Star Race, the annual non-points exhibition has been run at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway only twice, but on Sunday night, that number grows as Texas Motor Speedway gets set to host the $1 million showdown for the first time.

A total of 21 drivers will compete in the six-round, 100 lap event, with eligible drivers including those who won a points-paying racing in 2020 or 2021, 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: Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Cole Custer, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Joining those 17 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 starting lineup for the All-Star Race was set by random draw, with Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch leading the field to green. In the All-Star Open, which had its lineup set by driver points, Tyler Reddick and Chris Buescher will start on the front row.

The format for the 37th running of the All-Star Race has undergone a Texas-sized remake to go with its new locale, with the race proceeding as follows:

  • Rounds 1 through 4 will be 15 laps each; Round 5 will be 30 laps; the Final Round will feature a 10-lap shootout.
  • At the beginning of Round 2, the field will be inverted via random draw (minimum of eight/maximum of 12) live on FS1.
  • The round 2 random draw will also be seen live by fans attending the race on Big Hoss TV.
  • Before the start of Round 3, the entire field will be inverted.
  • At the beginning of Round 4, the field will be inverted via random draw (minimum of eight/maximum of 12).
  • Starting positions for Round 5 will consist of the cumulative finish from Rounds 1-4. The lowest cumulative finisher starts on the pole, second-lowest starts second, and so forth. All cars must enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop during Round 5.
  • The starting positions in the Final Round are set by finishing positions of Round 5.
  • Only green flag laps will count in the NASCAR All-Star race.
  • The fastest team on pit road during the mandatory pit stop will earn $100,000.
  • The race winner will be awarded $1,000,000.
  • The cars will run the typical high downforce package that is run on 1.5-mile tracks, with the exception of a change in the tapered spacer from 59/64th of an inch to 57/64th of an inch, reducing the horsepower to the 510 horsepower range.

“Texas has always felt like an All-Star market; it is a big-event market and Texas Motor Speedway thrives under a bright spotlight,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “The entire Speedway Motorsports and TMS team has done an incredible job embracing and elevating this event, creating a fun, must-see show for fans at the track and watching from home on FS1.”

“I call this ‘NASCAR All-Star Race: Texas Edition,’” said Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager Eddie Gossage. “Drivers and pit crews better pack their lunch pails because they are going to have to work extremely hard to earn the honor of celebrating in Victory Lane. This is a full metal rodeo for a big ol’ bag of dough.”

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: 6:00 pm ET)

Track Size: 1.5-mile quad oval

Banking: Turns 1-2 banked 20 degrees, Turns 3-4 banked 24 degrees

Race Length: Main event: 100 laps – All-Star Open: 50 laps

Stage Lengths: Main event: 15 laps (Segment 1-4), 30 laps (Segment 5), 10 laps (Final segment); All-Star Open: 20 laps/20 laps/10 laps

2020 All-Star Race Winner (Bristol): Chase Elliott – No. 9 Chevrolet (Started 13th, 60 laps led)

2020 Summer Texas Winner: Austin Dillon – No. 3 Chevrolet (Started 21st, 22 laps led)

2020 Fall Texas Winner: Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota (Started ninth, 90 laps led)

From the Driver’s Seat

“You’re going to see guys taking risks, not giving an inch,” said 2010 All-Star Race winner Kurt Busch. “There are going to be some wrecks, cause guys will be pushing that hard to go for the million dollars. Texas Motor Speedway is obviously a different track than what we have had in years past for the All-Star Race. It’s the first time for the race to be hosted at TMS and there are things that work at that track that don’t work at others. Everyone will be going in there guns blazing, no pun intended, going for that million-dollar payday!”

Last Time at Texas

Texas Motor Speedway played host to two points-paying races in 2020, with last October’s thrice-delayed race turning into a fuel mileage duel between Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr, while the usual Texas spring race was delayed to July due to the COVID-19 pandemic and came down to a heated battle between Richard Childress Racing teammates Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick.

Here’s how those two races played out:

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.