The ‘secret’ that NASCAR can’t afford to reveal

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR, NASCAR All-Star Race (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR, NASCAR All-Star Race (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

While NASCAR revealed the All-Star Fan Vote leaders, the reason for not revealing the top four in order goes beyond simply keeping a secret.

Following 13 consecutive weekends of points-paying action to start the 2022 season, NASCAR is set to run the annual Cup Series All-Star Race this Sunday evening at Texas Motor Speedway.

This year’s All-Star Race is set to be the second to take place at the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Based on this year’s requirements, 20 drivers are already locked into the main event, meaning that everyone else on the entry list must attempt to qualify for it by winning one of the three stages of the preceding All-Star Open.

However, there are four spots, not just three, still available in the 24-car All-Star Race field.

The 24th and final remaining open spot goes to the winner of the All-Star Fan Vote, from which the 20 drivers already locked into the race are excluded.

More accurately, since the winner of the Fan Vote can technically lock in by winning one of the stages of the Open (voting ends before the race weekend), the final spot goes to the driver who receives the most votes but is not one of the drivers already locked in.

Of course, the winner must also have a raceable car following the Open, or the spot goes to the next highest driver in the voting.

And that’s where NASCAR’s recent revelation comes into play.

On Monday, NASCAR revealed the four drivers who have received the most votes from fans thus far. However, what they did not reveal was the order of the top four.

They simply revealed that, in alphabetical order, Petty GMS Motorsports’ Erik Jones, Spire Motorsports’ Corey LaJoie, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick, and Trackhouse Racing Team’s Daniel Suarez have received the most votes so far.

Even the drivers and teams don’t know, and NASCAR can’t afford to let them know for one simple reason.

It’s not just to keep fans voting for their favorite drivers up until the deadline, though that is certainly one of the benefits since they could very well not reveal the top four at all.

The key reason is the fact that if NASCAR were to reveal the top four, that would give whoever the leader is the comfort of knowing that they will get into the All-Star Race no matter what happens in the All-Star Open, provided they don’t wreck their car.

For example, let’s say that Reddick has the most votes thus far, and he is leading by a considerable number of votes, more than any overnight vote dump could offset from now until the deadline.

If he and the #8 team go into the Open knowing this, why bother trying? Why run the risk of wrecking? Heck, why bother running at all, considering the All-Star Race is where the $1 million prize is paid?

Instead, NASCAR is aiming to ensure that all the teams and drivers compete with maximum effort, only revealing the Fan Vote winner after the Open concludes and there is truly just one more spot to fill.

The deadline to cast your vote is this Friday, May 20 at 12:00 p.m. ET. Fans may vote once per day right up until the deadline, and all votes shared on social media count twice. Vote here!

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Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 22 for the live broadcast of the All-Star Open from Texas Motor Speedway, and stay tuned in for the All-Star Race at 8:00 p.m. ET. FuboTV is offering free trials to all new customers, so take advantage of the opportunity now!