2022 NASCAR All-Star Race: How the New Format Works, Who Is In the Field, and More
Change has traditionally been the constant for the NASCAR All-Star Race, and this year is no different for the mid-season palate cleanser for motorsports fans.
This Sunday, the annual All-Star weekend, a break from the weekly points racing and playoff hunt with the $1 million All-Star Race, takes place at Texas Motor Speedway for the second consecutive year. It’s just the fourth time this event hasn’t been held in Charlotte. Atlanta hosted in 1986, and Bristol hosted in 2020.
The 125-lap main event will feature four stages divided into three 25-lap stages and a 50-lap final stage. The Stage 1 winner will start on the pole for the final stage – if that driver finishes 15th or better in Stages 2 and 3. The winner of Stage 2 will start second for the final stage provided that driver finishes 15th or better in Stage 3, and the Stage 3 winner will start third in the final stage.
NASCAR All-Star Race adds element for pit crews
Understand everything above about getting to the final stage of the NASCAR All-Star Race?
But, wait, there’s more.
Between Stage 2 and Stage 3, all teams will pit and perform a four-tire stop. The team with the shortest time on pit road will win the pit-crew award and start fourth in the final stage – if that team finishes 15th or better in Stage 3.
And one more thing – if a caution does not occur between Lap 15 and Lap 25 the old-fashioned way, NASCAR officials will throw an “All-Star” competition caution because, why not?
Who’s in the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race?
Drivers who have won Cup Series points races in 2021 and so far in 2022 are eligible for the NASCAR All-Star Race, so rookie Austin Cindric punched his ticket by winning the Daytona 500 to kick off the 2022 season. Others eligible include previous Cup Series champions who are competing full-time in the series and prior winners of the All-Star Race who are still driving full-time in the top series.
Heading into Sunday, the NASCAR All-Star Race lineup currently includes (in alphabetical order):
- A.J. Allmendinger
- Aric Almirola
- Christopher Bell
- Ryan Blaney
- Alex Bowman
- Chase Briscoe
- Kurt Busch
- Kyle Busch
- William Byron
- Ross Chastain
- Chase Elliott
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Brad Keselowski
- Kyle Larson
- Joey Logano
- Michael McDowell
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Bubba Wallace
The All-Star Race field will be set by a – surprise – new qualifying format. Teams will run single qualifying laps, starting by current owner-point standings in reverse order. After that, the pit crews get involved again. The top eight qualifiers move to a head-to-head elimination bracket.
Each team will perform a four-team pit stop, with the winner of each bracket advancing. The team that works its way through the bracket and wins the stage will start on the pole for the All-Star Race.
But wait, there’s more.
The All-Star Open decides three of the final four spots
While the Busch brothers and two-time 2022 Cup Series winner William Byron have secured their spots in the NASCAR All-Star Race, there are plenty of drivers depending on a stage win in Sunday evening’s All-Star Open race for three of the four remaining spots in the race field.
The All-Star Open will feature three stages – 20, 20, and 10 laps. The winner of each stage will advance to the All-Star Race. Petty GMS driver Ty Dillon is hoping to be one of them.
“I’m looking forward to the All-Star Race,” said Dillon in a Petty GMS press release. “Texas has been a good place to me in general over the last four or five years. I hope to race our way in through the Open and, if not, fall back hopefully on the fan vote. The goal obviously is to be in the All-Star race on Sunday night and be racing for that million. . . . I always have fun going to Texas and being in that area. I can’t wait to get there and have a chance on Sunday.”
So, what did he say about a fallback? A fan vote?
Forever known unofficially as the Dale Earnhardt Jr. Rule, which assured the popular driver a spot in the All-Star Race during his driving career, the fan vote is alive and well and will place one last driver in the field.
Got all of that? Well, if not, no worries. It’s all bound to change for next year.