Texas may have lost one of its points-paying dates, but it gained one of NASCAR’s landmark events for 2021 in the form of the June 13 All-Star festivities.
Eligibility for the annual race, long held at Charlotte Motor Speedway before moving to Bristol Motor Speedway in 2020 and then to the Lone Star State, is attained in three ways: 1) Drivers who have won points-paying races in 2020 or 2021, 2): Past Cup Series champion or 3) A previous winner of the All-Star Race all automatically qualify.
The remaining four spots are decided by the All-Star Open, held about two hours in advance of the main event. Split into segments, the winner of each will move on to fill a trio of the berths, alongside the Fan Vote winner. On Wednesday (June 9), NASCAR revealed that the top five vote-getters were (listed in alphabetical order) Chase Briscoe, Matt DiBenedetto, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace.
Chastain crew chief ejected for aero duct openings not conforming to specifications. Chastain will drop to the rear for start of the open.
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) June 13, 2021
A new format was unveiled for the 2021 edition and is as follows, per NASCAR:
- Round 1 will run for 15 laps, followed by an inversion that begins between eighth and 12th positions (starting point determined by random draw).
- Round 2 is also 15 laps, but the entire field will be inverted afterwards.
- Round 3 is identical to Round 1: 15 laps followed by an inversion beginning anywhere between eighth and 12th, decided by random draw.
- Round 4 is a straightforward 15-lap dash.
- Round 5 lasts for 30 laps, with its lineup set by cumulative finish through the first four rounds (the best starts from the pole). Ties will be decided by several different factors and the field must pit, with the fastest crew winning a $100,000 prize.
- Round 6 completes the race with a 10-lap sprint. The field lines up by their finishes in Round 5.
- Additionally, caution laps will not count towards the full race distance.
A random draw for the starting lineup yielded the pole to Kyle Larson, the winner of the past two points races this season and the 2019 All-Star Race winner. Larson raced his way into the main event through the Open and essentially ran the table in Charlotte’s most recent time playing host.
Other past winners in the field include Ryan Newman (2002; starts 14th); Kevin Harvick (2007 and 2018; starts 12th); Kurt Busch (2010; starts 13th); Denny Hamlin (2015; starts 16th); and Joey Logano (2016; starts seventh).
Last year’s All-Star Race, the first at Bristol, was won by Chase Elliott. William Byron and Aric Almirola won the first and second segments, respectively, while DiBenedetto won the third and Clint Bowyer transferred via the fan vote.
Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske each have their entire stables locked into the race.
TV coverage from Texas Motor Speedway begins with NASCAR RaceDay at 5 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. The All-Star Open is at 6 p.m. ET, while the main event is at 8 p.m. ET tonight after a second edition of NASCAR RaceDay.