For the first time in its 37-year history, the NASCAR All-Star Race took place at Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday’s exhibition race, divided into six rounds, was filled with inversions and calculations that determined Kyle Larson was the brightest star. Larson held off Brad Keselowski in the final ten-lap round to win his second All-Star and for the third straight week.
Larson drew the pole to lead the field of twenty-one; seventeen were already locked into the race while four—Ross Chastain, Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, and Fan Vote winner Matt DiBenedetto—qualified via the All-Star Open earlier in the day.
As part of the format, the race was split into six rounds with the first four being fifteen laps each. It only took one lap for a caution to wave when Christopher Bell got sideways despite avoiding a spin. Kyle Busch took the lead for the restart and led before Larson reclaimed the spot and drove off to the round win. The top twelve was inverted to put Ryan Blaney on pole for the second round, and no lead changes occurred in the round as he won.
After pit stops, DiBenedetto became the new leader and led six laps before Alex Bowman began the Hendrick Motorsports run at the front before wrapping it up with the round victory. HMS team-mate William Byron took the lead on lap 46 to begin the fourth round and edged out Larson to win.
The fifth round was the longest at thirty laps and thus necessitated a cycle of green-flag stops. All four Hendrick drivers ran in the top four before pitting together on lap 76, which allowed Keselowski to take the lead. On lap 79, Chastain nearly spun after being tapped by Ryan Newman from behind but saved it; nevertheless, the caution was called. Reigning All-Star winner Chase Elliott took the lead for the restart and claimed the round win.
The final round ran for ten laps. Keselowski passed Elliott for first on lap 92, but lost his battle with Larson. Despite Keselowski’s efforts, he could not catch Larson as he stormed off to his second career All-Star win, an unofficial third straight race win, and technically his second consecutive All-Star victory (he won in 2019 and missed 2020 due to suspension).
“It feels like running second to the Hendrick cars right now is an accomplishment,” quipped Keselowski. Hendrick drivers have won the last four points races while a team-mate finished second in each. “They are just stupid fast. I had him off turn 4 but they just have so much speed. He just motored right back by me, like damn!”
In addition to claiming the $1 million prize money, Larson is the first driver to win the All-Star in the #5 since Terry Labonte in 1999. He is also the first driver not from the Elliott family to win the All-Star when it is held outside of Charlotte Motor Speedway (Bill Elliott won at Atlanta in 1987 and Chase at Bristol in 2020).
“That second run there, we were really bad, and I was like, ‘Man, we’re in trouble.’ I went backwards that round,” Larson told FS1. “I was like, ‘We got an uphill battle and did not imagine seeing myself winning this race today,’ but Cliff (Daniels, crew chief) and everybody worked so hard on this thing, made some good adjustments throughout those second and third rounds and got us in position.
“That last restart worked out exactly how I needed it to. I wanted Chase to not get a good run down the back. Thankfully I think the #12 (Blaney) got to his inside, and I just shoved him down the back and he probably thought I was going to just follow him and I was like, ‘There’s got to be enough grip where we’d be running for one corner.’ It was a little slick up there but I was able to get it and hold him off from there. I can’t believe it.”
|1||1||5||Kyle Larson||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|2||9||2||Brad Keselowski||Team Penske||Ford||100||Running|
|3||6||9||Chase Elliott||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|4||7||22||Joey Logano||Team Penske||Ford||100||Running|
|5||17||12||Ryan Blaney||Team Penske||Ford||100||Running|
|6||15||48||Alex Bowman||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|7||8||24||William Byron||Hendrick Motorsports||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|8||20||10||Aric Almirola||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||100||Running|
|9||2||18||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||100||Running|
|10||13||1||Kurt Busch||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|11||3||20||Christopher Bell||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||100||Running|
|12||11||34||Michael McDowell||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||100||Running|
|13||10||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||100||Running|
|14||4||41||Cole Custer||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||100||Running|
|15||12||4||Kevin Harvick||Stewart-Haas Racing||Ford||100||Running|
|16||19||8||Tyler Reddick||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|17||21||21||Matt DiBenedetto||Wood Brothers Racing||Ford||100||Running|
|18||18||42||Ross Chastain||Chip Ganassi Racing||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|19||5||3||Austin Dillon||Richard Childress Racing||Chevrolet||100||Running|
|20||14||6||Ryan Newman||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||100||Running|
|21||16||11||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing||Toyota||100||Running|