NASCAR All-Star Race (Cup Series) Predictions, Odds & Picks
- Looks as if almost everyone is on the Kyle Larson bandwagon—predictably so.
- There’s one absolute lock for Sunday: drivers don’t know the format for the race.
- Three multiple winners at Texas are qualified for the NASCAR All-Star Race.
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For the first time in its history, the NASCAR All-Star Race will take place at Texas Motor Speedway. Sunday night’s event marks only the third time since its debut in 1985 that the All-Star Race has visited a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After its inaugural running at Charlotte in 1985, the race moved to Atlanta the following year before returning to Charlotte in 1987. There the event remained until it moved to Bristol Motor Speedway last year.
Seventeen drivers are qualified for the event, with four to be added on Sunday—three as segment winners of the NASCAR All-Star Open and one from the Fan Vote. Only once has the winner of the Fan Vote gone on to win the All-Star Race (Kasey Kahne in 2008).
Sunday night’s race, an exhibition non-points event, will be contested in six rounds totaling 100 laps (150 miles), with a variety of inversions between rounds scrambling the running order. Chase Elliott won last year’s All-Star Race at Bristol.
The winner on Sunday night will pocket a $1-million first prize.
How to Watch NASCAR All-Star Race
|NASCAR All-Star Race Information|
|Race||NASCAR All-Star Race (Cup Series)|
|Location||Texas Motor Speedway|
|Time||Sunday, June 13, 8 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
Could Anyone Else But Kyle Larson Be the Favorite in the All-Star Race?
Why shouldn’t Kyle Larson be the favorite to win Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.
In his last two NASCAR Cup Series starts, Larson won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Toyota/ Save Mart 350 on the Sonoma Raceway road course.
As if that weren’t a sufficient embarrassment of riches, Larson won the random draw for the pole among the 17 eligible drivers. So he’ll lead the field to green for the first segment of the race.
Mitigating against Larson is his record at Texas. Larson has crashed out of three of his last five races at the 1.5-mile speedway, but he hasn’t raced there since 2019 and has never raced there in his current Hendrick Motorsports equipment.
Accordingly, we don’t think Larson is a bad bet at +340. His teammate, Chase Elliott, is the defending race winner, but that was on a .533-mile short track versus a downforce speedway.
In addition, Elliott (+750) has never found a comfort level at Texas and hasn’t posted a top-five there since his Cup debut season in 2016. To get extra track time, he ran Saturday’s Truck Series race but finished second to John Hunter Nemechek.
We prefer Kyle Busch (+850), a four-time Texas winner who will start beside Larson on the front row in the first segment. On Saturday, Busch won his 10th NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Texas and learned a lot about the track for Sunday.
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Here’s a Sure Bet: Most Drivers Won’t Be Familiar with the Race Format
In the most complicated event of the season, most drivers will be playing it by ear in the various rounds of the race.
After the first 15-lap segment, the field will be inverted by random draw, with a minimum inversion of eight and a maximum of 12.
After the second round, the entire field will be inverted. Another inversion by random draw will follow before the fourth round. The starting position for Round 5 will be determined cumulative finish of Rounds 1-4, with the lowest total starting on the pole.
NASCAR has mandated a four-tire pit stop during Round 5, with the fastest crew earning a $100,000 bonus. For the 10-lap final round, drivers will start in the same order they finished Round 5.
Even if they’ve been briefed on the format, most drivers will depend on their crew chiefs and spotters to tell them where to line up for each segment. The exception is likely to be Kyle Busch, who will understand the format and game-plan the entire race.
That’s another reason we like him to win the All-Star event for the second time.
Three Multiple Winners at Texas Are Locked Into the All-Star Field
Among active Cup drivers, Kyle Busch is the leading winner of points races at Texas with four victories. Close behind are Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin with three victories each.
Harvick (+1300) is the only multiple winner of the All-Star race among the 17 drivers already locked in, but Harvick hasn’t shown winning speed this year. The telling stat is the number of laps led—39 in 16 races this season versus 1,531 in 36 races last year.
Hamlin (+1000) has nine top fives and 756 laps led this year but has yet to visit Victory Lane. But the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota hasn’t finished top-five in the last four races and has led only seven laps in that span.
So we’ll stick with the dominant driver at Texas—Kyle Busch, with the other Kyle (Larson) as a hedge.
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Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]