The NASCAR Cup Series drivers took part in the annual All-Star Race on Sunday, June 13, heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the first time. This race didn’t count in the points standings but awarded the winner $1 million, creating aggressiveness on the track. The drivers hit the field to the sound of Sammy Hagar, with Kyle Larson taking the checkered flag after six rounds of action.
Following the first five rounds, the drivers lined up for one final 10-lap dash to the finish line. Chase Elliott started at the front of the pack with his teammates behind him, but he did not remain there for very long. Brad Keselowski and Larson incorporated some surprising maneuvers and jumped ahead of Elliott. Larson took the lead and held off Keselowski over the final laps, capturing his second All-Star Race in three years.
The NASCAR drivers dealt with several issues during the race, including the hottest track temperature (145 degrees) of the year and an overall lack of grip early. Multiple lost control of their race cars during the All-Star Open, including Bubba Wallace, who slid early and brought out the caution flag.
The conditions improved during the actual All-Star Race as nighttime approached and the air temperature cooled. Though Christopher Bell still slid after getting caught up in some dirty air. He saved the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry and avoided hitting the wall or any other drivers, but he still brought out the caution flag.
The No. 9 Team Walked Away With a $100,000 Bonus
Prior to the 2021 All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway officials announced that there would be extra cash on the line during the six-round event. The pit crew that turned in the fastest stop would score a $100,000 bonus. There were several in contention for this prize, but only one achieved the goal.
Following the end of Round 5, pit reporter Jamie Little announced that the No. 9 team had scored the bonus money. Elliott avoided speeding penalties heading onto and departing pit road while the pit crew quickly changed all four tires.
This prize-winning pit stop came at the perfect time for Elliott. He headed to pit road with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates — Alex Bowman, Larson, and William Byron — but used the stop to jump ahead of them in the order. Elliott continued to hold the top position for the remainder of Round 5, winning the stage and taking the top spot for the final dash to the checkered flag.
Ross Chastain Mounted a Wild Comeback in the All-Star Open
Prior to the main event, several NASCAR drivers competed in the All-Star Open with the goal of moving on to the next round. Three stage winners locked up spots in the All-Star Race while the winner of the fan vote, Matt DiBenedetto, joined them. The winner of Stage 1, Ross Chastain, achieved his goal of competing for the $1 million prize by mounting a stunning comeback at Texas Motor Speedway.
Shortly before the drivers headed onto the 1.5-mile oval, NASCAR announced that Chastain’s No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet Camaro had failed inspection. He had to drop to the rear of the field for the start of the race. Though he did not remain in this position for very long.
The first stage of the All-Star Open featured several caution flags due to Wallace spinning, as well as collisions involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez, and Erik Jones. Chastain avoided these incidents and navigated his way through the field. He ultimately reached the front of the field and lined up next to Tyler Reddick on the final restart.
Once the green flag waved, the two Chevrolet Camaro drivers took off for one final dash to the green and white checkered flag. They collided twice but did not suffer major damage. Chastain capitalized on the better grip in the top lane and pulled ahead of Reddick. He did not relinquish his lead en route to a stage win and a spot in the All-Star Race.
Once Chastain reached the main event, he continued to showcase his skills. He had strong performances during the first three rounds, fighting for top-10 finishes. He also avoided slamming into the outside wall after Ryan Newman hit his car from behind and sent him sliding into the turn. Chastain brought out the caution flag, but he did not wreck.