Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones completed the starting grid for the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race after transferring from the NASCAR All-Star Open at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 22. Stenhouse, Buescher and Suarez raced their way into the main event after each claimed a stage victory, respectively, while Jones was revealed as the Fan Vote winner, thus claiming the final spot of the 24-car grid for the All-Star event.
With the starting lineup based on on-track qualifying occurring on Saturday, Tyler Reddick initially qualified on pole position after posting a pole-winning lap at 186.981 mph in 28.880 seconds. He, however, dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. As a result, Daniel Suarez, who posted a qualifying lap at 186.903 mph in 28.892 seconds, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who qualified with a fast lap at 186.490 mph in 28.965 seconds, started on the front row.
Prior to the event, Justin Haley joined Reddick at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to his No. 31 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
When the green flag waved and the race started, Stenhouse and Suarez dueled for the lead for nearly a full lap before the former pulled ahead entering the frontstretch as he led the first lap. At the same time, Chris Buescher overtook Suarez for the runner-up spot while Austin Dillon was up in fourth ahead of Erik Jones and rookie Harrison Burton.
Through the first five laps of the event, Stenhouse was leading by three-tenths of a second over Buescher followed by Suarez, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon while Burton, Corey LaJoie, Reddick, Haley and Ty Dillon were in the top 10.
By Lap 10, Stenhouse continued to lead by eight-tenths of a second over Buescher. Meanwhile, Reddick, who started at the rear of the field, was up in sixth place after he overtook Harrison Burton.
With five laps remaining in the first stage, Stenhouse extended his advantage to more than a second over Buescher followed by Suarez and Austin Dillon while Reddick was up in fifth ahead of Erik Jones. By then, Haley, who also started at the rear of the field, was in seventh in front of Burton, LaJoie and Ty Dillon.
At the start of the final lap of the first stage on Lap 19, Stenhouse remained as the leader by one-and-a-half seconds over Buescher. Remaining uncontested for a final full cycle, Stenhouse captured the first stage victory on Lap 20 and secured a spot in the 2022 All-Star Race, which will mark his fourth appearance in the million dollar event.
“Our Viva Camaro took off really, really strong there,” Stenhouse said. “All the Kroger team’s been working hard these last few weeks and we’ve been getting results, which is nice. Now, we get to go race for a million bucks and be in the big show, which was disappointing. We sat and watched it last year, so it feels really good. We’ll make some changes, make some adjustments and [I] got a better idea of what my car was doing there. Hopefully, we can run up through the field.”
Under the stage break, the remainder of the field led by Buescher pitted. Following the pit stops, Haley and BJ McLeod were sent to the rear of the field due to uncontrolled tire violations.
The second stage started on Lap 20 as LaJoie and Suarez occupied the front row. At the start, LaJoie took off with the lead followed by Suarez as the field scrambled and jostled behind for positions. When the field returned to the start/finish line, LaJoie was out in front ahead of Suarez and Buescher while Reddick was in fourth ahead of Erik Jones.
Then on Lap 26 and as Suarez started to pressure LaJoie for the lead, the caution flew when Landon Cassill got loose, spun and made hard contact against the outside wall through Turns 3 and 4.
When the race restarted on Lap 31, LaJoie and Suarez dueled for the lead through the backstretch until Buescher pulled a bold three-wide move on both through Turns 3 and 4 in a bid for the lead. When the field returned to the start/finish line, Buescher emerged out in front followed by Suarez and Reddick while LaJoie was back in front of Erik Jones.
By Lap 35, Buescher was leading by three-tenths of a second over Suarez followed by Reddick, Erik Jones and LaJoie while Austin Dillon was in sixth.
At the start of the final lap of the second stage on Lap 39, Buescher stabilized his advantage to three-tenths of a second over Suarez. Despite having Suarez close within his rearview mirror, Buescher was able to fend off the competition to win the second stage on Lap 40 and race his way into the 2022 All-Star Race, which will mark his second appearance in the event as both Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing competitors will contend for a million dollars.
“That was cool to be able to race our way in with our Fastenal Mustang,” Buescher said. “It was aggressive racing like we know it is when we come to the All-Star and these short runs. Get to watch them get it there side by side. I see [LaJoie] start slipping up the hill and I’m like, ‘We got to commit.’ It was cool. Had a good push down the front straightaway, had to be really protective into [Turn] 1. That grip was just starting to come in, so I’m pretty curious to see where the end of this race goes and really excited for the All-Star now.”
Under the stage break, some like Cole Custer, LaJoie pitted while the rest led by Suarez remained on the track. Following the pit stops, Custer was penalized for an uncontrolled tire violation.
With 10 laps remaining, the final stage commenced under green. At the start, Suarez and Reddick, both of whom started on the front row, dueled for the lead through the backstretch until Suarez managed to clear Reddick through Turns 3 and 4 to assume the lead.
Then with eight laps remaining, the caution flew when Reddick got loose entering Turns 3 and 4 and spun several times in the middle of the track. As the field scrambled to avoid Reddick’s spinning car, Harrison Burton collided into Reddick past the start/finish line. The incident spoiled Reddick’s opportunity to compete in the All-Star Race along for Harrison Burton.
When the race restarted with eight laps remaining, Suarez took off with a strong launch from the field as Austin Dillon moved into the runner-up spot followed by Erik Jones.
As the field returned to the start/finish line, Suarez was out in front by two-tenths of a second over Austin Dillon followed by Justin Haley, Erik Jones and LaJoie while Ty Dillon was up in sixth place.
Down to the final five laps of the event, Suarez was leading by eight-tenths of a second over Austin Dillon while third-place Haley trailed by more than a second.
When the white flag waved and the final lap was underway, Suarez continued to lead by more than a second over both Austin Dillon and Haley. Having no challengers coming close to his rear bumper, Suarez cycled his way back to the finish line as he won the All-Star Open for the second time in his career and earn a one-way trip to the All-Star Race for the third time in his career. Suarez’s accomplishment meant that both Trackhouse Racing competitors earned a spot for the All-Star event.
“I only wished I had to run 20 [laps], but we had to run the whole 50,” Suarez said. “Overall, just very proud of my team. Every time that I’ve been part of the All-Star Race, it’s always a lot of fun. It’s just about fun, not with the trophy. What I love the most is the part about going out there in a stage with a pit crew, with a team, everybody having a good time. I’m so happy that I’m gonna be able to do this with my No. 99 crew: Trackhouse Racing.”
In the midst of the conclusion of the event, Erik Jones, who finished in fifth place, earned the 24th and final spot after being named the Fan Vote winner. As a result, Jones earned a spot for the All-Star event for the third time in his career.
“[I] Appreciate the fans,” Jones said. “I never thought I’d have a shot to win [the Fan Vote], but the No. 43 fans are pretty strong. Been struggling a bit, but we’ll make some big changes here for tonight. Hopefully, give’em a run for it.”
Austin Dillon finished in second place, but was one of 12 competitors who did not make the 2022 All-Star Race along with Justin Haley, Corey LaJoie, Ty Dillon, Cole Custer, Todd Gilliland, Cody Ware, Garrett Smithley, BJ McLeod, Tyler Reddick, Harrison Burton and Landon Cassill.
There were four lead changes for four different leaders. The race featured four cautions for eight laps.
1. Daniel Suarez – Stage 3 winner, 10 laps led
2. Austin Dillon
3. Justin Haley
4. Corey LaJoie, 11 laps led
5. Erik Jones – Fan Vote winner
6. Ty Dillon
7. Cole Custer
8. Todd Gilliland
9. Cody Ware
10. Garrett Smithley
11. BJ McLeod
12. Tyler Reddick – OUT, Accident
13. Harrison Burton – OUT, Accident
14. Chris Buescher – Stage 2 winner, nine laps led
15. Landon Cassill – OUT, Accident
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Stage 1 winner, 20 laps led
The 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway will follow suit on Sunday, May 22, at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.