Drivers to watch in NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas


The NASCAR All-Star Race is back in Texas for the second straight year.

Kyle Larson took home the $1 million paycheck from the exhibition race one season ago, but that was with a car that isn’t relevant 11 months later.

So who takes home the bragging rights in a unique format this year?


Kyle Larson

  • All-Star wins: 2 (2019, 2021)
  • Last three All-Star Races: 7th Charlotte 2018; WIN Charlotte 2019; WIN — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Aiming to become first driver to win three straight All-Star Race starts

Larson is on fire entering the 2022 All-Star Race. With an absence from 2020’s event, Larson has won each of his last two appearances in the main show. In the last version raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Larson transferred into the main show with a win in the Open then took home the big prize by the night’s end in 2019.

Last year, in Texas’ inaugural All-Star event, Larson led 16 laps on his way to claiming the checkered flag. His 5.4 average All-Star finish is also highest all-time of drivers with more than two starts in the race. Expect the No. 5 Chevrolet to be a factor again Sunday night.

Chase Elliott

  • All-Star wins: 1 (2020)
  • Last three All-Star Races: 14th Charlotte 2019; WIN Bristol 2020; 3rd — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Won 2020 All-Star Race en route to Cup championship

Elliott’s 2020 All-Star triumph is an interesting note on the stat sheet. That year’s event run at the 0.533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway is the only All-Star Race not to be held on a 1.5-mile oval. All others have been raced at Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas.

But Elliott was part of an impressive display from Hendrick Motorsports last year, which saw all four of its drivers win one of the five stages in the 2021 All-Star Race. Elliott led 12 laps and should be a factor this weekend.

Kyle Busch

  • All-Star wins: 1 (2017)
  • Last three All-Star Races: 3rd Charlotte 2019; 2nd Bristol 2020; 9th — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Seven straight top-10 finishes

Busch has finished inside the top three in three of the last five All-Star Races, including his 2017 win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Last year at Texas, the No. 18 Toyota came home with a ninth-place finish after Busch led six laps.

With 267 laps led in 16 starts, nobody has led more All-Star laps than Busch, who has competed in the main event every year since 2006. Busch has shown plenty of speed on 1.5-mile tracks this season, nearly scoring the win at Las Vegas earlier this year and placing third at Kansas last week. A victory in Sunday’s All-Star Race would be far from a surprise.


Kevin Harvick

  • All-Star wins: 2 (2007, 2018)
  • Last three All-Star Races: 2nd Charlotte 2019; 3rd Bristol 2020; 15th — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Joins Larson as only two-time All-Star winner in Sunday’s field

Harvick’s recent All-Star record is impressive, notching five top-three finishes in the last eight All-Star Races. That includes a win at Charlotte in 2018, where Harvick led 33 laps en route to the victory.

Sunday will mark Harvick’s 22nd straight start in the event, the longest active streak and barely trailing Mark Martin’s record of 24 consecutive starts. Last year’s race didn’t go as well for Harvick, where he finished 15th with zero laps led. He has three Texas wins but has just two top fives this year. He’s still looking for win No. 1 in 2022. Maybe an exhibition race win can spark some necessary momentum for the No. 4 team.

William Byron

  • All-Star wins: 0
  • Last three All-Star Races: 9th Charlotte 2019; 12th Bristol 2020; 7th — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Led most laps in 2021 race

Byron competed in each of the past three main events, but last year’s All-Star Race was Byron’s first time entering the event locked in. In 2019 and 2020, Byron wheeled the No. 24 Chevrolet to stage wins in the Open to advance.

His seventh-place finish a season ago doesn’t stand out, but what does is the 30 laps he led, most of any driver a season ago. His teammates have won each of the last two All-Star Races and Byron is tied with Ross Chastain for the most wins this season (two).

Joey Logano

  • All-Star wins: 1 (2016)
  • Last three All-Star Races: 4th Charlotte 2019; 7th Bristol 2020; 4th — Texas 2021
  • All-Star Notes: Finished eighth or better in 12 of 13 starts

Logano’s All-Star finishes leap off the page. Like Kyle Busch, Logano has finished inside the top 10 in each of the last seven races. But since his first All-Star Race in 2009, Logano’s only finish lower than eighth is a 22nd-place finish after he crashed out of the 2014 event.

He — and Ford overall — struggled a week ago at Kansas while driving a backup car, earning just a 17th-place finish. At Las Vegas, the other traditional 1.5-mile track NASCAR visited this season, Logano finished 14th. The No. 22 Ford will need to find some speed to keep that top-10 streak alive Sunday in Texas.

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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NASCAR Saturday schedule at Circuit of the Americas


Saturday will be a busy day at Circuit of the Americas, as all three national series are on the track.

Cup will qualify ahead of the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series races.

The forecast Saturday calls for sunny conditions and no chance of rain all day. The high is expected to be 69 degrees during Cup qualifying, 76 degrees at the start of the Truck race and 81 degrees for the start of the Xfinity race.

Zane Smith looks to win his second consecutive Truck race at the road course in Austin, Texas. AJ Allmendinger seeks his second consecutive Xfinity win at COTA.

Saturday, March 25

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m.  — Truck Series
  • 2 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)