NAS: NASCAR All-Star Race weekend: Preview, Odds & Best Bets


The NASCAR All-Star Race weekend has traditionally been a celebration of the sport’s big-name drivers competing for a big-dollar check with no points on the line and pride and performance being the motivators.

This Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Texas Motor Speedway features not only the most accomplished drivers on the grid but also a new format designed to boost an already high level of competitive intrigue.

Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson won the $1 million check last year beating Brad Keselowski by 0.206 seconds and joins fellow two-time All-Star race winner Kevin Harvick as the only active multi-time All-Star champions.

Larson, who went on to dominate the 2021 October Playoff race at Texas, also boasts the best All-Star average finish (5.4) among those drivers with more than two starts in the race. His Hendrick Motorsports team boasts an all-time best 10 All-Star wins.

It’s no surprise that Larson is the +500 pre-race favorite at BetMGM, where he leads all drivers with 12.3 percent of the winning handle backing him along with 8.9 percent of the bets – second only to Chase Elliott (10.2 percent at +800).

The format has a new variation for 2022 including a unique multi-tier qualifying session and four-stage race with lengths of 25 laps for Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3, followed by a 50-lap shootout in the Stage 4 finale to decide the $1 million.

The Stage 1 winner will start first in the Stage 4 final run. The winner of Stage 2 will start second and the winner of Stage 3 will roll off third in the final stage. The best car in a newly styled “pit stop competition” — held during the stage break between Stage 2 and Stage 3 — will start fourth in the final run to the big check.

Also new this year, if a caution does not “naturally” occur between laps 15-25 of the final stage then NASCAR will call an All Star “competition caution” during that time.

Twenty drivers have already earned a position in the All-Star Race, including Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Harvick, Larson, Keselowski, Elliott, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, A.J. Allmendinger, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, Michael McDowell, Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman.

Chastain has also been backed by 8.9 percent of the winning bets along with 12.2 percent of the handle, tied with Elliott.

The biggest liabilities for BetMGM are Michael McDowell, who has drawn 4.2 percent of the handle at +20000, Chastain and Elliott.

The NASCAR All-Star Open — (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) — just prior to the main event will send three additional drivers to the big show — the winners of each stage (20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps). The traditional Fan Vote will provide the final All-Star competitor on the 24-car grid.

Fans had until Friday at noon ET — on NASCAR.com — to vote for a driver to advance into the All-Star race. The Fan Vote winner will be revealed just before cars line up for the main event.

Not only is the format new, but the facility is still relatively new to hosting NASCAR’s famed All-Star race, so expectations and “favorites” have logically changed with the locale.

At the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch leads all active drivers with four points-paying race wins, followed by Harvick and Hamlin who have three wins each. Of the seven active former Texas winners — Austin Dillon is the only one needing to race into an All-Star berth, so his winning Lone Star resume is an asset for the Richard Childress Racing driver.

“I’m optimistic with how we’ve run at the mile-and-a-half tracks so far this year,” said Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. “As a manufacturer, the Toyotas were very good last week at Kansas, so I hope we can carry that to Texas. Obviously, it’s a different track, so not everything correlates, but our team is definitely looking forward to having some fun this weekend.”

For Hamlin’s JGR teammate Truex, a million-dollar victory Sunday night would go a long way toward boosting his season. He’s still racing for his first victory of 2022 and although it’s not a points-paying event, an All-Star trophy is a reminder he’s very much in the thick of competition.

“The All-Star Race is always a good time,” Truex said. “There’s no real pressure and it’s a lot of fun for everyone. It’s a good opportunity for us to get laps at a track we’re going to see in the Playoffs, especially with the new car. I’m looking forward to it.

“I feel like we have shown good speed lately, so that gives me confidence that we’ll be in the mix on Sunday night.”

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: NASCAR All-Star Race
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 22
The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 7:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 187.5 miles (125 Laps); Stage 1 (25 Laps), Stage 2 (25 Laps), Stage 3 (25 Laps), Final Stage (50 Laps)

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: NASCAR All-Star Open
The Place: Texas Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 22
The Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 75 miles (50 Laps); Stage 1 (20 Laps), Stage 2 (20 Laps), Final Stage (10 Laps)

–Field Level Media (NASCAR NewsWire contributed to this story).



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