When the NASCAR All-Star Race takes place at Texas Motor Speedway for the first time on 13 June, the race will feature a very unique, if not confusing at first glance, format that was revealed on Wednesday. The exhibition event will be 100 laps in length and divided into six stages (officially called rounds) of varying distances, and the starting lineup for each segment will also be different.
“I call this NASCAR All-Star Race: Texas Edition,'” track president Eddie Gossage stated. “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.”
The first round will have its starting order set by random draw. After fifteen laps and another random draw that inverts the field, the second round will begin and also run for fifteen. The third and fourth segments are also fifteen laps in length, with the former’s starting order being fully inverted while the latter reverts to the partial inversion based on random draw. The even-numbered stages’ draws will flip the starting spots for eight to twelve drivers.
The fifth round will be the longest at thirty laps, and thus deviates from the inversion in favour of cumulative finish from the first four stages. The drivers with the lowest total finish across rounds one through four will start toward the front. A pit stop will also be required during the round; the team with the fastest stop will win $100,000.
The sixth and final stage will be a ten-lap dash set by the finishing order in the previous round. As usual, the winner will receive $1 million.
The cars will utilise a 57/64ths-sized tapered spacer. The 510-horsepower spacer is generally seen at the superspeedways Daytona and Talladega as a replacement for the restrictor plate. Texas’s fall race will use the 550-hp spacer.
In order to gain eligibility, one must have won a points race in 2020 or 2021, or be a former All-Star winner or Cup Series champion who is racing full-time in 2021. Seventeen drivers—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.— are already locked in. All but Newman have won races in the last two seasons; Newman is in via his 2002 All-Star Race victory. Elliott is the defending All-Star winner.
The NASCAR Open qualifying race for drivers not guaranteed a spot in the All-Star will be split into three segments (first two at twenty, last at ten). The winner of each stage and the Fan Vote winner will advance to the main event.
The All-Star Race moves to Texas for 2021 after the 2020 edition was held at Bristol Motor Speedway. The exhibition race was traditionally run at Charlotte Motor Speedway before heading to Bristol due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Texas, which lost its spring date to Circuit of the Americas, gained the All-Star in compensation.
“Texas has always felt like an All-Star market; it is a big-event market and Texas Motor Speedway thrives under a bright spotlight,” NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell commented. “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.”