NASCAR announces All-Star format, details with who’s eligible and why they got this one right

NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports today announced details for the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race to be held at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday, May 21. The simplified format – featuring two heat races to set the starting lineup, a 100-lap All-Star Open and a 200-lap main event – puts the spotlight of the weekend on the historic .625-mile track, which will host its first NASCAR competition since 1996.


The NASCAR All-Star Race will be 200 laps with a competition break at or around Lap 100. All laps (caution and green flag) will count, and NASCAR Overtime rules are in effect. Each team will start on sticker tires for the All-Star Race, and have three additional sets to use. After the competition break, only one additional set of stickers can be used.


The All-Star Open, featuring drivers not previously eligible for the All-Star Race, will be 100 laps with a competition break at or around Lap 40. Three Open drivers will advance to the All-Star Race – the top two race finishers and the Fan Vote Winner.


“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary, it’s important for NASCAR to honor our history while moving towards the future,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer. “The combination of the Next Gen cars on one of NASCAR’s first – and most exciting – tracks will deliver a full weekend of racing that fans will not forget. While the All-Star Race has previously been used to test new formats and technologies, we wanted this year’s format to showcase the historic return of NASCAR to North Wilkesboro Speedway.”


All-Star festivities begin Friday evening with a Pit Crew Challenge to determine the starting lineups for the heat races and Open. Each car’s qualifying time will be based solely on their pit stop time. Teams must complete a four-tire stop; timing lines will be established one box behind and one box ahead of the designated pit box.


The 22 drivers already locked into the field will be split into two 60-lap heat races on Saturday night which will determine the starting lineup for the All-Star Race. Results of Heat 1 will establish the inside row, results of Heat 2 will establish the outside row. The action-packed weekend will conclude Sunday night with the All-Star Open and All-Star Race.


“This format has an old-school, short-track feel to it—just like it should be for a return to North Wilkesboro,” said Speedway Motorsports President and CEO Marcus Smith. “Dale Jr. had some fantastic ideas and it was fun to work with him alongside NASCAR to pull this all together.  I’m thankful for Dale’s passion for this entire project and I think we’ve landed on something that both the fans in the stands and those watching on television will absolutely love.  We want everyone after the race to smile and say ‘Wow, that was fun!’”


“The star of this year’s All-Star Race is the track,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer and NBC Sports Analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. “The history, the nostalgia, the surface – just being back at North Wilkesboro. People have wanted traditional racing back at North Wilkesboro for decades, and that’s what’s most important – that’s what this format delivers. The Pit Crew Challenge puts a lot of pressure on the teams, and with a 100-lap Open and a 200-lap All-Star Race, I’m excited to sit back alongside the fans and watch the racing we’ve all wanted for a long time.”


Technical rules for the cars will remain the same as other NASCAR Cup Series short track races.


Those eligible for the NASCAR All-Star Race include drivers who won a points event in either 2022 or 2023, drivers who won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete fulltime and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete fulltime.


Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race spot: Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Martin Truex Jr. and Bubba Wallace.

NASCAR got this right. We all knew that North Wilkesboro was an aged surface and in order to put on a good show, you had to have a long green flag run. NASCAR listened and learned and instead of several segments including a sprint to the end, they ended up with just one stoppage near halfway and if all goes to plan, a 100-lap run to the finish which will help in the racing package. Cars slipping and sliding around the short track will be a heck of a show and to do so with having only one set of fresh tires for that final segment will put strategy in the hands of the pit boxes too.

If there’s a couple of cautions in the final portion, who pits when is going to strategize this and help in the event that you don’t get one long green flag run until the end too.


The NASCAR All-Star Race will air live on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 8 p.m. ET on May 21.

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