The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action this weekend for the annual All-Star race. This time, it will take place in June and do so away from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The inaugural race was held in 1985 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway before going to the Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1986. But, it moved back to CMS in 1987 and remained there every year through the 2019 season. Every one of those races were held in May.
Last year, COVID allowed for a change. There was always talks of moving this race to new tracks each season and they finally did so. It was moved to July at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway. Instead of going back to Charlotte this season, they elected to try the Texas Motor Speedway instead. It was moved now to June.
Well, SMI owns these tracks for the All-Star weekend and they’re going to use one of their tracks, not one owned by NASCAR. Charlotte, Atlanta, Bristol, Texas, Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Sonoma and Kentucky are all owned by SMI. So, one of these tracks will likely always host the All-Star event.
But, with how the schedule lines up, Texas was really the only one who could host this season. That’s because Kentucky was left off, Sonoma and New Hampshire have just one date, Charlotte isn’t going to give up the ‘600 or the ROVAL, Bristol had the dirt race and the night race while Vegas has a playoff date, Texas could gain the most by giving up a spring race weekend in efforts to host a summer All-Star event. Plus, with COTA on the schedule now, it works out best for all parties.
So, here we go to Texas this weekend. In saying that, who’s eligible?
Those eligible for the NASCAR All-Star include drivers who won a points event in either 2020 or 2021; drivers who won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete full-time; and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series Championship and compete full-time.
That means we have 17 drivers who have already clinched spots into the All-Star race. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, William Byron, Michael McDowell and Alex Bowman for wins this season, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Cole Custer from last season and Ryan Newman as a past All-Star race winner.
Four more drivers will join them in the field, three of which making it in via the Open and the other the fan vote winner.
The Open will feature three rounds. The winner of each round advances to the All-Star Race. The first stage of the Open is 20 laps. The second stage is 20 laps. The final stage is 10 laps.
There’s 22 cars racing in the open with Quin Houff, Corey LaJoie, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, David Starr, Chase Briscoe, James Davison, Chris Buescher, Matt DiBenedetto, Bubba Wallace, Austin Cindric, Anthony Alfredo, Ross Chastain, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Cody Ware, Josh Bilicki, Garrett Smithley, Timmy Hill, Justin Haley, BJ McLeod and Daniel Suarez taking part. Ryan Preece’s No. 37 Chevrolet won’t be there as JTG Daugherty Racing has elected not to show up. See, NASCAR states that all 36 chartered cars must be there but the 37 entry doesn’t have a charter. With this race paying no points and Preece being forced to the open, why show up and race 50 races and risk not making it to the main event? What gain do they have? There’s too much risk of tearing up equipment, so they’ll sit this one out.
Plus, the horsepower package is 510 this weekend. That’s 40 less than normal as NASCAR is trying to experiment with bunching this field up even more and for Preece, they’d gain no information for the playoff race anyways since there’s a different package this weekend than from then.
How the All-Star Race Will Look?
- The starting lineup will be set by a random draw.
- The first round is 15 laps.
- An inversion will take place (minimum of eight cars and maximum of 12) before the second round, which is 15 laps.
- The entire field will be inverted before the third round, which is 15 laps.
- Another inversion will take place (minimum of eight cars and maximum of 12) before the fourth round, which 15 laps.
- Starting positions for the fifth round will consist of the cumulative finish from the first four rounds. The lowest cumulative finisher starts on the pole, second-lowest starts second, etc. All cars must enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop during the fifth round, which is 30 laps. The fastest team on pit road during the mandatory stop will earn $100,000.
- The starting positions in the final round, which is 10 laps, are set by finishing positions in the fifth round.
Only green flag laps will count in the All-Star Race.
Cars will use a 57/64-inch tapered spacer. All other elements of the car remain the same.