Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth, TX — May 22, 2022
NASCAR’s All-Star race is an event made for the fans of the sport. It incorporates many unique features designed to showcase the greatest drivers and pit crews in automobile racing.
Qualifying included a pit stop and then a one-lap sprint around Texas Motor Speedway to determine the fastest effort by a complete team. Culminating a head-to-head elimination-style format, Kyle Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing crew faced off against Ryan Blaney and Team Penske with Busch claiming the pole position.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson will occupy the second row at the start of the $1 Million to the winner NASCAR All-Star Race.
Drivers eligible for the NASCAR All-Star Race
Who gets in automatically? Cup Series drivers who have earned a points-paying race victory in either 2021 or 2022. Previous NASCAR All-Star Race winners who are competing full-time this season. Previous NASCAR Cup Series champions who are competing full-time this season.
Drivers who clinched a starting spot and making return visits to the NASCAR All-Star Race are AJ 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., and Bubba Wallace.
Cup Series rookie Austin Cindric qualified for his first NASCAR All-Star Race appearance by winning the Daytona 500 in February.
But before the main event begins, those drivers who did not earn an invitation to the feature have a chance to make the show. The NASCAR Open will immediately precede the NASCAR All-Star Race and will consist of three stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps). Each segment winner will advance to the NASCAR All-Star Race as will the winner of the Fan Vote.
Once the full field is set, the All-Star race will run consisting of four stages, with the first three 25 laps in length and the fourth and final being a 50-lap shootout for the $1 million prize. The new format has provided a major incentive to win any of the opening three stages or the pit stop competition during the break between Stages 2 and 3.
Stage 1 (25 laps): The Stage 1 winner will start on the pole in the final stage as long as he finishes 15th or better in Stages 2 and 3.
Stage 2 (25 laps): The Stage 2 winner starts second in the final stage as long as he finishes 15th or better in Stage 3.
Special Stage Break (Pit Stop Competition): Each team must pit and perform a four-tire stop. The team with the shortest time on pit road (pit in/pit out) wins the pit crew award and the driver will start fourth in the final stage as long as he finishes 15th or better in Stage 3.
Stage 3 (25 laps): The Stage 3 winner starts third in the final stage.
Stage 4 (50 laps): Stage 1 winner starts first, Stage 2 winner second, Stage 3 winner third, and pit stop competition winner fourth. If a “natural” caution occurs between laps 15-25 of the final stage, standard race procedures will be in effect. If no “natural” caution occurs during that time, NASCAR will call an “All-Star” competition caution. Winner of the Stage 4 earns $1 million.
“The NASCAR All-Star Race highlights our best athletes — from the driver to road crew to the pit crews — and this year’s edition brings that to another level,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR Sr. Vice President, Competition.
“The incredible intensity of the drivers and teams, as well as the Texas-sized excitement from our race fans, is what makes the NASCAR All-Star Race just that much more special,” Texas Motor Speedway General Manager Rob Ramage said.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) led all 20 laps of Stage One in the NASCAR Open and became the first driver to advance to the All-Star race. Tyler Reddick(8) was supposed to start on the pole, but an adjustment after qualifying sent him to the rear of the field. Reddick worked his way back to the fourth position enabling him to compete for a win in the next two Stages.
Corey LaJoie(7) stayed out during Stage ending pit stops, opting for track position instead of fresh tires. He led the first few laps of Stage two until Landon Cassill(77) spun and hit the wall off turn two. On the restart, Chris Buescher(17) took over the lead and held on to become the second driver to qualify out of the Open.
Reddick and Daniel Suarez(99) lined up on the front row for the 10 laps of Stage three. They raced side-by-side for two laps until Reddick spun in the tri-oval and collected Harrison Burton(21) in the process.
Suarez and Erik Jones(43) restarted on the front row with eight laps to go. When the green flag dropped, Suarez got a huge jump and with the clean air on the nose of his car pulled away for the Stage win. Becoming the third driver to advance to the All-Star race.
The final entrant into the feature event comes by way of the fan vote. Erik Jones won the popularity contest and joined the field for the big race later in the evening.
The NASCAR All-Star Race
Just like the NASCAR Open, the pole sitter for the NASCAR All-Star race led all the laps in Stage one to capture the win. Kyle Busch(18) will start on the pole for the final 50-lap segment as long as he stays in the top-15 over the next two Stages.
The top-eight cars stayed on the track while most of the remainder of the field came to pit road during the Stage ending caution. Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney(12) led the field on the restart. Busch drove off again, while Blaney struggled with the handling on the used tires and dropped back into the pack.
Twelve laps into Stage two, Kyle Larson slammed the wall just prior to entering the front stretch causing heavy damage to his race car. He managed to guide the battered machine across the tri-oval grass and into the pits where it would have to be towed to the garage with the right front suspension destroyed.
On the restart, Ross Chastain(1) sat next to Kyle Busch on the front row. Chastain was able to hang with Busch for a couple of laps until Kyle again began to pull away. With just three laps to go in Stage two, Busch had a right rear tire go down. As he was slowing and trying to get to the inside of the track Busch collided with Chastain sending the latter airborne. Luckily, Chastain came down on all four wheels. Unfortunately, with no steering, Chastian slid up the track and Chase Elliott(9) ran into him. All three cars were destroyed in the incident. NASCAR red-flagged the race to clean up the mess.
With four of the top contenders for the win sitting in the garage, it could be anyone’s race to win. Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric(2) inherited the top spot with Ryan Blaney back to second for the restart.
A green-white-checkered finish will settle Stage two in overtime. Cindric held on for the Stage win and with Kyle Busch eliminated Cindric inherits the pole for the Final Stage.
Pit Stop Contest
Everyone came to the pits during the Stage ending caution period for four new Goodyear tires and a full tank of Sunoco racing fuel. During the stop, cars were timed from yellow line to yellow line entering and exiting the pits.
The importance of quick teamwork by the crew and precision timing by the driver to not exceed pit road speed determined the winner of $100,000 for the fastest driver and crew. Joey Logano’s(22) Team Penske crew pocketed the money.
Back to On Track Racing
The restart featured Blaney and William Byron(24) on the front row for the start of Stage three. Byron took the lead briefly, but Blaney passed him back for the top spot and began to pull away. Christopher Bell(20), also with a fast race car, passed Byron and tried to run down the leader.
Trying to close the gap from first to second, Bell got loose in Turn four and slammed the wall bringing out the caution. Blaney stayed out because the Stage win will lock him into the second starting position in the Final Stage. Cindric stayed on the track because his starting position is also locked, as is Logano’s for winning the pit stop challenge.
With three Penske drivers at the front of the pack, teammates Logano and Cindric should be able to protect Blaney getting him a premium starting spot in the money-paying Stage. And they did just that.
A 50-Lap Sprint for All the Money
Blaney and Cindric raced together for a lap and a half before Blaney finally prevailed. Logano ran third, Suarez fourth, and Denny Hamlin(11) rounded out the top five. Clean air is so important and with passes hard to complete it could be a Ford Mustang rout at the front of the field.
The only wrinkle is NASCAR has scheduled a competition caution for the halfway point of the final Stage unless a caution for cause occurs in the laps leading up to that point. The Team Penske drivers will have to work together again to preserve their positions at the front.
Erik Jones, who struggled all day after the fans voted him into the feature event, spun and hit the outside wall entering the tri-oval ending his night early. And eliminating the need for the competition caution as the yellow flag flew with 26 laps to go in the event.
Pit stops started with Denny Hamlin in fifth place. The top four stayed out to preserve track position. Logano lost the third spot to Suarez and they were both passed by Hamlin who pitted for two tires during the caution.
With 14 laps to go Hamlin passed Cindric for second place, but he was losing time to the leader. With ten laps to go the interval from first to second was 2.3-seconds with Blaney adding .2-seconds a lap to the advantage.
Give the big check to Ryan Blaney as he takes the checkered, wait, hold on. As Blaney was approaching the finish line the caution flag waved for Stenhouse hitting the wall on the backstretch. And it’s into overtime.
To compound the problem for Blaney, not only does he have to win the race again but he has to reattach the window net he lowered when he thought he won it the first time. Despite struggling with the task for multiple laps under yellow he got it into a position to hold.
With a big push from teammate Cindric on the restart, Blaney pulled ahead of Hamlin on his outside to take the lead. Cindric then battled Hamlin to allow Blaney to pull comfortably ahead for the million-dollar prize.
With the All-Star race being the least exciting race of 2022 and a less than impressive crowd in the grandstands maybe NASCAR will reconsider running the event at Texas Motor Speedway. For some real excitement, let’s see them move the event to Atlanta Motor Speedway for 2023.
Results of the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race from Texas Motor Speedway
|14||19||Martin Truex Jr.||2.529||140|
|19||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||-1||139|
*Ford Mustang Drivers