NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Busch wins All-Star Race elimination qualifying

2 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Heat races to set starting grids are not uncommon in motorsport. Nitro Rallycross and Formula E take it another step further with a one-on-one elimination format. On Saturday, the NASCAR Cup Series determined the field for Sunday’s All-Star Race with a slightly different approach: a four-tyre pit stop at the end of pit road and one lap around Texas Motor Speedway.

New for 2022, the starting lineup for the All-Star Race was determined using a bracket system that gave pit crews a bigger role. Previous All-Star Races also utilised crews such as having drivers make mandatory stops while setting a flying lap in qualifying or during the race, while the Pit Crew Challenge—in which crews made their stops before pushing their cars to the finish—was a fan favourite until its discontinuation in 2012.

Kyle Busch‘s #18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew proved to be the best as he defeated team-mate Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, and Ryan Blaney to win the pole.

“This is a cool event,” commented Busch’s crew chief Ben Beshore. “A good way to showcase our pit crew and they did a great job. They put in a lot of hard work this off-season and throughout the year. They clicked off awesome stops there and it’s exciting.”

Twenty cars were locked into the All-Star, and the top eight in traditional qualifying advanced to the knockout round. Aric Almirola kicked off the experiment on an inauspicious note when he missed the green light to signal the start, causing him to fall significantly behind and William Byron to easily win. Blaney defeated Ross Chastain to take on and eventually defeat Byron.

In the opposite bracket, defending race winner Larson beat Kurt Busch to face younger brother Kyle. However, Busch won the Battle of the Kyles after Larson’s car stalled. The #18 then won the final over the #12.

“Anytime you’re able to showcase the pit crews’ ability and have them and their athleticism in this competition and in this qualifying format, I enjoy that,” said Busch. “I think that’s my most favourite part of the year (when) coming to the All-Star Race, whether it’s Charlotte and coming down pit road and sliding into the box, but having those guys go over the wall certainly means a lot, especially this #18 bunch that I’ve had a lot of success with over the years. Obviously changed up a few times, most recently, but we’ve always been a threat to be reckoned with when it comes to getting on the pole for the All-Star Race. It feels good to have that today.”

Saturday also saw qualifying for the All-Star Open, an event of sixteen drivers who had not locked themselves into the All-Star Race. Tyler Reddick, who has been a regular contender to finally snag his first career Cup victory but has yet to get over the hump, led the way ahead of Daniel Suárez, who has also been in that predicament.

Starting lineup

PositionNumberDriverTeamManufacturerBest TimeBest Speed (mph)
118Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota28.554189.115
212Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord28.565189.043
324William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet28.528189.288
45Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet28.632188.600
545Kurt Busch23XI RacingToyota28.620188.679
61Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet28.723188.003
719Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota28.744187.865
810Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord28.767187.715
922Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord28.777187.650
1016A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet28.807187.454
1114Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord28.822187.357
122Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord28.830187.305
139Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet28.831187.298
1420Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota28.834187.279
154Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord28.864187.084
1611Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota28.891186.909
1723Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota28.904186.825
186Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord28.908186.800
1934Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord28.935186.625
2048Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet29.011186.136
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points

Open qualifying results

PositionNumberDriverTeamManufacturerBest TimeBest Speed (mph)
18Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet28.880186.981
299Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet28.892186.903
347Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet28.956186.490
443Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet28.982186.323
517Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord29.003186.188
631Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet29.028186.027
73Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet29.110185.503
87Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet29.195184.963
921Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord29.224184.780
1041Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord29.226184.767
1177Landon Cassill*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet29.287184.382
1242Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet29.396183.698
1351Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord29.506183.014
1438Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord29.749181.519
1515Garrett SmithleyRick Ware RacingFord29.895180.632
1678B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsFord29.927180.439
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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