NASCAR has again introduced a unique format for the All-Star Race this year. How will the starting lineup be set for Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway?
For the second year in a row, the annual NASCAR All-Star Race is scheduled to take place at Texas Motor Speedway. Following 13 consecutive points races to open up the 2022 Cup Series season, the race for $1 million is scheduled to take place this Sunday night.
There are 20 drivers who have already locked into the main event by checking at least one of four boxes: won a race in 2021, won a race in 2022, won a past All-Star Race, and/or won a past Cup Series championship.
Four more drivers are set to lock into the event. Three more will do so by winning one of the three stages of the All-Star Open, and one more will do so by winning the All-Star Fan Vote.
The winner of the Fan Vote is technically defined as the driver who receives the most votes among the competitors not already locked in, provided that this driver still has a raceable car following the All-Star Open. If not, the driver with the next highest vote total gets the spot.
That brings the field size to 24 for the All-Star Race at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Fort Worth, Texas. But how is the starting lineup set?
Single-car qualifying for the All-Star Open is scheduled to kick things off, with drivers each making a single-lap run in reverse order of the owner standings. It is a pretty basic single-car qualifying session.
The winner of the first 20-lap stage of the All-Star Open is set to start the All-Star Race in 21st place, the winner of the second 20-lap stage of the All-Star Open is set to start the All-Star Race in 22nd, and the winner of the final 10-lap shootout of the All-Star Open is set to start the All-Star Race in 23rd. The winner of the All-Star Fan Vote is set to start in 24th.
As for setting the top 20, things are slightly more complicated.
Single-car qualifying is slated to get things started, with these 20 drivers each making a single-lap run in reverse order of the owner standings. The drivers who finish this session from ninth to 20th place lock up their respective starting positions, but the top eight drivers advance to the second round.
The second round features a three-round, elimination-style bracket, with two cars staged in side-by-side pit stalls near the end of the pits. Pit crews then perform a four-tire stop and drivers exit their pit stall onto the track, notably without a speed limit. The first driver to reach the finish line advances to the next round in each matchup.
The four drivers eliminated in the first round start the race from fifth to eighth place based on their speeds from the first round, and the two drivers eliminated in the second round start the race in third and fourth, again based on their speeds from the first round.
The third and final round is the battle for the pole position, with the runner-up set to occupy the other half of the front row.
As for the race itself, it is a 125-lap event featuring four stages. Stage one is a 25-lap stage, and the stage one winner clinches the pole position for the final stage, provided he finishes in the top 15 in stage two and stage three.
Stage two is another 25-lap stage, and the stage two winner clinches the second place starting position for the final stage, provided he finishes in the top 15 in stage three.
Following stage two, there is a pit stop competition during which each team must pit and perform a four-tire stop. The team with the shortest time on pit road will win the pit crew award, and the driver of that team clinches the fourth place starting position for the final stage, provided he finishes in the top 15 in stage three.
Racing action continues with stage three, which is another 25-lap stage. The stage three winner clinches the third place starting position for the final stage. This leads into the final 50-lap stage, which is guaranteed to feature at least one caution. If a real caution hasn’t happened between laps 15 and 25, an “All Star” competition caution will be called. The winner of this stage is the All-Star Race winner and winner of the $1 million prize.
Qualifying for the All-Star Open is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 7:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 21, followed by qualifying for the All-Star Race on 7:55 p.m. ET. The All-Star Open is set to be broadcast live on the same network beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 22, followed by the All-Star Race at 8:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss any of the action!