It’s that time of year, NASCAR All-Star Race time. The All-Star Race has been a place for the best of the best in NASCAR to showcase their skills in an exhibition event since 1985. Since 1987, the event has also featured an “open” event, which takes place beforehand to give those not qualified into the All-Star Race a chance to make the cut.
The race has taken on a lot of different format and rules changes throughout the years, but until 2020, it had only been contested on two tracks — Charlotte Motor Speedway (all but once) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (during the 1986 edition). This season, we will see a wild change of things as the race will be run on the short half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway, there will be a choose rule and the cars will have new number placements on the paint schemes as well as bright under glow LED lights.
But before we get carried away with the optics of the event, how do the two races actually work?
NASCAR All-Star Open
This race will consist of 21 drivers (22 were scheduled to compete, but Timmy Hill and the No. 66 MBM Motorsports team withdrew).
The event will run for a total of 85 laps, which will be broken into three Stages.
Stage 1 will be 35 laps, Stage 2 will also be 35 laps and the final Stage will be a 15 lap dash.
To advance to the NASCAR All-Star Race later in the evening, a driver must win Stage 1, 2 or 3, or be the highest ranking driver in the fan vote with a car capable of running at the end of the event.
Once a driver wins a Stage in this event, they are parked for the remainder of the race and are able to begin preparing for the big show.
Michael McDowell will start from the pole in Wednesday night’s Open race, and he will have Aric Almirola lined up along side him.
The NASCAR All-Star Open Race coverage will begin on Wednesday, July 15th at 7:00 PM ET on FS1.
NASCAR All Star Race
The NASCAR All Star race will feature 20 drivers (16 who have won a race since 2019 or have won a previous NASCAR All Star Event or are a past NASCAR Cup Series champion as well as four drivers from the Open).
The race will total 140 laps, but will be broken down into four separate Stages.
Stage 1 will be 55 laps, Stage 2 will be 35 laps, Stage 3 will be 35 laps and the fourth and final Stage will be 15 laps.
During Stages 1 thru 3, green flag and caution laps will count. In the final Stage, caution laps will not count and there will be unlimited attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.
Martin Truex Jr. will lead the field to green in Stage 1 as he drew the pole for the event. Alex Bowman will line up alongside Truex in second.
Click here to view the full starting lineup for the All-Star Race (note: final four positions not listed in the lineup will consist of the three Stage winners and fan vote driver from the open)
The NASCAR All-Star Race will kick off Wednesday, July 15th at 8:30 PM ET on FS1.
An interesting new wrinkle, which has been added to this event, is the “Choose Rule”.
While it isn’t revolutionary to those who follow local short track racing across the country, this will be the first time that this rule is used in the NASCAR Cup Series.
In a normal NASCAR Cup Series event, the race leader is able to choose inside or outside lane, while the rest of the field is forced to slot into the inside or outside lane based on the number of their scored position. Now, for the 2020 All Star Race, every driver will get to choose their lane.
On the front stretch just past the start finish line, there will be an orange V shaped indicator. Drivers will have up until that point to choose whether they want to start in the inside or outside lane.
This puts a lot of strategy in play, as a driver can opt to take the line which has worked better in the race, or roll the dice for more track position by selecting the less preferred lane if a lot of drivers ahead of them choose the preferred lane.
If a driver does not make their decision of lane choice by the time they reach the orange marker, they will forfeit their position and be penalized to the tail end of the field.
Here is a video explanation of the rule:
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) July 14, 2020
Toby is the Founder, Editor and go-to man for TobyChristie.com. He is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, Toby is a NMPA (National Motorsports Press Association) award winning writer, and has followed NASCAR as a fan since 1993.