Six-round format set for first NASCAR All-Star Race in Texas

This story first appeared on April 28:

NASCAR joined Texas Motor Speedway officials Wednesday in announcing the format for the 2021 NASCAR All-Star Race, unveiling a six-round, 100-lap bout for the Fort Worth track’s first hosting of the annual invitational event.

The procedures for the June 13 non-points exhibition (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) were first revealed on FOX Sports’ Race Hub. The race winner will collect $1 million, and an additional $100,000 will be presented to the fastest pit crew in a mandatory stop near the end of the race.

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The race format and procedures:

  • Starting lineup set by random draw.
  • Round 1: 15 laps. After this round, the field will be inverted starting anywhere from the eighth through 12th positions, to be selected by a random draw.
  • Round 2: 15 laps, with entire field inverted after this segment.
  • Round 3: 15 laps, again the field will be inverted starting anywhere from the eighth through 12th positions, to be selected by a random draw after this round.
  • Round 4: 15 laps.
  • Round 5: 30 laps. The lineup for this round will be determined by cumulative finish from the first four rounds, with the best cumulative finisher starting from the pole. Any ties in the aggregate score will be broken by (in order): Most career All-Star wins, most career Cup Series points race wins or 2021 Cup Series driver standings. All cars must enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop during this round. The crew with the fastest stop will pocket $100,000.
  • Round 6: 10 laps. Cars will line up according to their finishing position from the previous round for the final segment.

“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,” said Texas Motor Speedway president and GM Eddie Gossage, who also plans an old-timey, wild West motif for pre-race ceremonies. “This is a full metal rodeo for a big ol’ bag of dough.”

Only green-flag laps will count in the All-Star Race.

The rules configuration for the All-Star Race will use the high-downforce aerodynamics package at the 1.5-mile track, but engines will use a tapered spacer reduced from 59/64th of an inch to 57/64th. That setup is currently used on superspeedways, where horsepower targets are in the 500-510 range.

A total of 17 drivers have already clinched All-Star berths: 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 criteria for eligibility includes NASCAR Cup Series race winners in 2020-21 and full-time drivers who are either past All-Star winners or past Cup Series champions.

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The rest of the field will be completed in the NASCAR Open qualifying race (June 13, 6 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the All-Star Fan Vote. The Open will be run in three segments — 20 laps, 20 laps and a 10-lap shootout — with segment winners and the overall winner advancing to the All-Star main event. Fan balloting will determine the final driver in the field who is otherwise ineligible.

“Texas has always felt like an All-Star market; it is a big-event market and Texas Motor Speedway thrives under a bright spotlight,” said NASCAR executive VP and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell. “The entire Speedway Motorsports and TMS team has done an incredible job embracing and elevating this event, creating a must-see show for fans at the track and watching from home on FS1.”

Coverage of the NASCAR All-Star Race will be sponsored by NASCAR Premier Partners Busch Beer, Coca-Cola, GEICO and Xfinity.

Elliott won last year’s All-Star Race, held for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway. Of the 36 previous editions, 34 were held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with only last season’s Bristol invitational and the 1986 running at Atlanta Motor Speedway held away from the North Carolina track.