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Podium Preview: NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas

Kyle Larson hopes to defend his NASCAR All-Star Race victory on Sunday evening. (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Larson hopes to defend his NASCAR All-Star Race victory on Sunday evening. (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

If there’s a race where it’s no holds barred, anything goes and second place on back almost don’t matter, it’s the NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Sure, it doesn’t pay points and it doesn’t bolster a driver and team with their championship aspirations. However, a $1 million prize and bragging rights in the 38th annual running of this showdown are worth the ups and downs for this field of at least 23 drivers and teams on Sunday night.

Last year, Kyle Larson captured his second NASCAR All-Star Race win and his first the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy team, a victory that was a part of his sparkling 2021 season. Ask almost any member of Larson’s team about their championship season and most will treat the NASCAR All-Star Race win like an actual in-season triumph.

Alongside Larson, veterans like Kurt and Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney seem top of mind, within sight. That doesn’t mean the likes of Ross Chastain, William Byron and Austin Cindric will be content to just be in the big race.

This weekend, Cody ShoppeJasmine SharpeKobe Lambeth, Luis TorresMatt SisolerMichelle RaynorNathan SolomonTaylor Kitchen and yours truly contemplate over the odds of another great intermediate track race, a free preview of the 600 and the most likely driver to spoil the NASCAR All-Star Race fun at Texas.

Podium Preview: NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway
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Question 1
Might we see some side-by-side racing tonight at Texas? (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Might we see some side-by-side racing tonight at Texas? (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

It’s the second consecutive NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway. While we’ve seen great racing at intermediate tracks this year, will this trend continue on Sunday night?

Solomon : I think it will for sure, and with a relatively short All-Star Race, it’ll mean more urgency for drivers. Auto Club, Las Vegas and Kansas all put on terrific shows and I’m excited to see what the next few weeks will bring. We’ve seen a lot of parity in these races and teams are starting to finally grow and develop their notebooks. I’m not sure the All-Star Race is necessarily going to be the best overall product, but I think it’ll still be an entertaining Sunday night. 

Tiongson : I think it’ll be a pretty good NASCAR All-Star Race if the trend continues on Sunday night. Based on what we’ve seen at Las Vegas and Kansas, it’s been incredible action on the track with racing on multiple grooves and some good finishes.

Not every track will produce an instant classic. However, I think folks tend to put down Texas immediately and not understand how intermediate track racing varies. I think the new car will help things out in terms of more side-by-side action and cure some of the drawn out formations we’ve seen at the intermediates since the Gen 6 era.

I think it’s going to be fun, exciting and with that final stage of racing entailing at least one caution between laps 15 to 25, we’re in for a treat at “The Great American Speedway.”

Lambeth : If the Next Gen car can put on a good show at Texas Motor Speedway, then anything is possible! So far, we’ve seen quite a bit of action in the Truck and Xfinity Series races. Hopefully, that means we’ll see an entertaining All-Star Race on Sunday night.

In a strange reversal, the intermediate tracks have put on a more entertaining on-track product than the short tracks this year. As everyone in the garage learns more about NASCAR’s newest Cup car, maybe we’ll see improvements at tracks that were disappointing during the first half of the season. But for now, the focus is winning the million dollar grand prize under the lights in Texas on All-Star weekend.

Question 2
Is tonight's race a harbinger for next Sunday night's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte? (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Is tonight’s race a harbinger for next Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte? (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

It’s the first NASCAR All-Star Race without any major changes to the cars. While this is a non-points race, how helpful will this race be in terms of a test session for Cup drivers and teams for next Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte?

Shoppe : Charlotte Motor Speedway, while still being the same mile and a half quad oval layout, it is not a terrible single grooved track like Texas motor speedway has become. I expect teams to look at their Kansas and Vegas notes before Texas for their all important coke 600 cars. 

Raynor : I think running the All-Star race at Texas will be helpful for these teams to get a gauge for Charlotte Motor Speedway to an extent. We did test at Charlotte motor Speedway earlier this year, but That was prior and we changed some things from that test. I will help the teams a little. Texas has those bumps on the track where Charlotte Motor Speedway does not. I think if I had to get rate it on a a scale of 1 to 10, I would say a 5. 

Sharpe :  Practice makes perfect. The track may be different, but this year has proven to be a doozy for pit crews thanks to the new single lug nut. 

On the driver side of things, I’m not exactly sure how this will help with next week’s race. Perhaps with the intense qualifying session and open race it might hone in their overall focus on making quick decisions. The overall high temps might help as well, we haven’t exactly had to run in such conditions this year. High temps can drain a driver, especially with demanding tracks like Dover. We’ll just have to wait and see how things play out.

Sisoler :  In terms of cars and drivers for practice, I mean, they’re both intermediate tracks, but I’m not sure how much teams could learn from Texas that they could carry over to Charlotte, because T1/2 at Texas is not even close to the same corners at Charlotte and the race at TMS is not really, in my opinion, gonna compare with the Coke 600 in terms of distance. 

I mean, as always, more laps turned will help teams learn more about these new cars and help the crews fine tune pit stops, but I’m not sure about what the drivers will learn that might correlate to the 600.

Question 3
Shall we watch "That Jones Boy" closely? (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Shall we watch “That Jones Boy” closely? (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Which of the NASCAR All-Star Race Open drivers, barring he does not win the Fan Vote, seems most likely to challenge for the $1 million win on Sunday night?

Torres :  It’ll boil down between Daniel Suárez and Tyler Reddick. While the latter will have to go to the rear in spite of winning the Open pole, don’t count him out. When there’s a lot on the line, he’s gonna be tough.

For Suárez, it’ll be the testament of Trackhouse Racing being all-around competitive. While Ross Chastain has taken the spotlight, a super Sunday that could lead to an All-Star Race win will certainly be an absolute fanfare for his Amigos, the No. 99 team and the sport as a whole.

Kitchen: Though I believe Daniel Suarez and Tyler Reddick will be difficult to beat at the All-Star Open, let us not forget about Erik Jones!

Jones has the fourth best average finishing position of 10.5 at Texas Motor Speedway! Plus, so far this season, he has shown that the no.43 car has speed with one top-five finish and four top ten finishes (on track to beat his stats in the 2021 season). 

So, don’t count “That Jones Boy” out this weekend in Texas! He could be the dark horse contender to ride into the sunset with the $1 million.

Friends, two laps around Texas Motor Speedway goes as fast as ideas on how to spend the $1 million prize! Now, let’s look at the top 10 starters for Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race!
Row 1
Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny and John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney (Photo: Dylan Nadwodny and John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Row 2
William Byron and Kyle Larson (Photo: Luis Torres and Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

William Byron and Kyle Larson (Photo: Luis Torres and Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Row 3
Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Kurt Busch and Ross Chastain (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Row 4
Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Martin Truex Jr. and Aric Almirola (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Row 5
Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Joey Logano and AJ Allmendinger (Photo: John Arndt | The Podium Finish)

Lastly, let’s check out our picks for Sunday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway!
It's the drivers that we choose. (Photo: Luis Torres, John Arndt and Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

It’s the drivers that we choose. (Photo: Luis Torres, John Arndt and Dylan Nadwodny | The Podium Finish)

Solomon : I’m going to reach deep on this one. Tyler Reddick is more than due for a Cup victory; he’s just had trouble closing out races. He won at Texas on Saturday in Xfinity, so he has some momentum on his side. He’ll have to race his way into the show from the Open, but I believe he can do it and win the $1 million check. 

Tiongson : Kyle Larson is known as “Yung Money” for his big moments when there’s big time cash on the line. Winning his past two starts in the NASCAR All-Star Race, look for the defending Cup champion to win again on Sunday night.

Raynor : Texas is a good track for Kyle Larson. I feel like he’s going to be up there to contend to win. I also feel like we might see William Byron up there. He’s good at this track. Any of the Hendrick cars really will probably win this race.

Kitchen : Ross Chastain has been on a hot streak this season with good stats and two wins! He has already spent time on the track this weekend during the truck race, finishing in P.12. So, not only is Chastain prepared for this weekend with stats and practice, but he also has the million dollar winning mentality: he will do whatever it takes to win!

Sisoler :  Just the way he’s been going this year, I am gonna ride with the Melon Man, Ross Chastain, to get the victory in the 2022 All-Star Race!

Torres :  Hard to go against Ross Chastain right now. Momentum is there in his true breakout year and this race will suit his style. Trackhouse Racing will continue its winning ways with Ross.

Lambeth : Texas is a good track for Ryan Blaney, so I expect him to be strong and bring a million dollars back home to Team Penske after putting on a show for the fans in the Lone Star State!

Shoppe : William Byron is my pick to win. Hendrick is so strong right now and Byron has been so good lately on mile and a half tracks. 

Sharpe :  After watching the All-Star Open qualifying, it’s super tough to say. I wanna go with Kyle Busch after staying super consistent and strong for the event. Yet, his brother Kurt Busch is looking great after last week’s win. Looks like I’ll go with the older of the two, so let’s go, Kurt!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into the race? Who are your favorites to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week! While we progress toward a new kind of normal, please do your part to curb the impacts of the pandemic by washing your hands and getting your COVID-19 vaccine or booster.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Podium Preview are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes. Ultimately, they are not indicative of TPF, the organization and its staff.

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Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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