For the first time in NASCAR history, the annual All-Star Race will head down to Texas and provide the drivers with the opportunity to compete for the $1 million cash prize. Now the drivers know the format that will help them secure a spot in the big event, as well as how they can set up a trip to Victory Lane.
The All-Star Race will unfold in two rounds. The first will be the Open consisting of three stages. The first two stages will be 20 laps each, and the winner of each will secure a spot in the All-Star race. The final stage will be 10 laps and will send a third driver to the main event. Finally, a fan vote winner will head to the next part of the competition.
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The All-Star Race itself will feature six rounds. The first four rounds will be 15 laps each while the fifth will be 30 laps. The final round will be 10 laps. However, there will not be a simple formula that determines the starting lineup. Instead, the field will change nearly every single round.
“I call this ‘NASCAR All-Star Race: Texas Edition,’” said Texas Motor Speedway President and General Manager Eddie Gossage in a press release. “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 field will change several times during the All-Star Race
According to the press release, a random draw will determine the starting lineup. The second round will then start with a random draw inverting the field (minimum of eight cars, maximum of 12). Round three will start with the entire field inverting once again, and then the fourth round will start with a random draw inverting the field (minimum of eight, maximum of 12).
The unique format continues in the fifth round with another significant change. NASCAR will take the cumulative finishes from the first four rounds and use them to determine the starting order, albeit with a golf-inspired twist. The lowest cumulative finisher starts on the pole, second-lowest starts second, and so on. Every driver must complete a mandatory four-tire pit stop during the fifth round.
For the sixth and final round, NASCAR will determine the starting lineup with a very simple formula. They will take the finishing order from the previous round and use that for the final dash to the finish line. The first person to take the checkered flag will win the $1 million prize. NASCAR will also give a $100,000 bonus to the team with the fastest pit spot in the fifth round.
Several drivers have already clinched a spot in the All-Star Race
The All-Star Open will help four drivers reach the All-Star Race, putting extra pressure on those that want to join an elite group. Other drivers, however, will not have to worry about any qualifying events. They automatically secure spots in the annual event due to past successes in the Cup Series.
According to NASCAR rules, drivers who won a points event in either 2020 or 2021 are eligible for the All-Star Race. Others eligible are drivers who won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete full-time; and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series Championship and compete full-time.
Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race spot: 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.
The 2021 All-Star Race will mark the second consecutive year that NASCAR tests out a new track for the special event. The race went to Bristol Motor Speedway in 2020, only the second time in 36 years that it did not take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The lone exception was 1986 when the All-Star Race headed to Atlanta.
With the change in location came the debut of new features. The stock cars all featured underglow lights during the race based on the vehicle manufacturers. Chip Ganassi Racing first showcased this design feature during 2019’s Champion’s Week in Nashville, adding a unique look to the Burnouts on Broadway event. NASCAR then decided to bring back the lights for the All-Star Race.
Additionally, the All-Star Race featured a new “Choose Rule” that would provide the drivers with the ability to decide which lane they would take before each restart. They could go on either the inside or outside of a painted box on the track instead of following a predetermined path. Though hitting the box with the vehicle tires resulted in a penalty and sent the driver to the rear of the pack.
The 2021 All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway will take place on June 13. FS1 will provide coverage, starting at 5 p.m. ET. The NASCAR Open will air at 6 p.m. and the NASCAR All-Star Race will begin at 8 p.m. ET. Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, and Clint Bowyer will call the action from the Fox Sports booth.
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