2024 NASCAR All-Star Qualifying & Race Format 101

With the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series regular-season stretch reaching its halfway mark upon a wild conclusion of Race No. 13 of 26 at Darlington Raceway, the premier series’ teams and competitors take a one-week break from competing for points and race victories to make the 2024 Cup Series Playoffs.

It does not mean, however, that the teams and competitors will be taking a one-week break from on-track competition as the next event on the schedule is the Cup Series’ return to North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for the 40th annual running of the All-Star Race that is set to occur this upcoming Sunday, May 19. With the return of the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro for a second consecutive season, so too does the event’s grand prize of $1 million that awaits the race-winning team and competitor following a weekend-long host of on-track activities prior to and during the main event.

Before the battle for the million-dollar prize along with epic-bragging rights begins, however, the teams and competitors will be tested cohesively and against one another live on mainstream media through the event’s two-day qualifying format that would enable them to obtain a starting spot as high as possible over one another and be a step closer to achieving victory…and the million dollar prize.

The 2024 All-Star’s qualifying procedure commences with all competitors set to compete in the All-Star Open to generate two qualifying laps through the sport’s traditional single-vehicle round on Friday, May 17, where the competitor who posts the fastest two-lap average qualifying lap will achieve the pole position for the Open event. The Open event is designated for competitors who are not eligible to compete in the All-Star Race due to not meeting the event’s criteria but equally gives all participants a final path to the main event that will be explained later below (Paragraph 9).

At the conclusion of the All-Star Open qualifying procedure, the All-Star Race qualifying procedure follows suit, where each competitor registered for the main event will perform three qualifying laps individually. Infused within the on-track qualifying procedure for this year’s All-Star event is the return of the Pit Crew Challenge that will occur after each All-Star competitor takes the green flag to commence the qualifying run and cycles once around the North Wilkesboro circuit.

Then during the second qualifying lap run, the competitors will peel off the track to pit road and park their respective entries within one of two designated pit stalls before their respective pit crews perform a four-tire pit service along with a mock fuel delivery to the cars. After the pit stops conclude, the competitors will return to the track and race back to the checkered flag, which will halt the qualifying clock session.

The competitor who generates the highest qualifying time from start to finish, including the pit stops, will be awarded the pole position for both Heat Race No. 1 and the All-Star event. In addition, the pit crew that generates the fastest pit service with no penalties will be named winners of the Pit Crew Challenge. The results of the Pit Crew Challenge will also determine the order selection of pit stall selections. As an additional note, all teams will receive two practice sessions: one for pit road entry and one for a qualifying session and a second standard session, both of which will also occur on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. ET and air on FS1.

Photo by Andrew Boyd for SpeedwayMedia.com.

The qualifying action continues on Saturday, May 18, following the conclusion of the Craftsman Truck Series’ Wright Brand 250 at North Wilkesboro, where two 60-lap Heat races will occur and determine the full lineup of the All-Star Race for the competitors already guaranteed into the main event. Each Heat event will include a scheduled caution period on Lap 30, where the teams will perform a mandatory four-time pit stop. The results of Heat Race No. 1 will determine the starting lineup of the inside lane while the results of Heat Race No. 2 will determine the lineup of the outside lane.

On Sunday, May 19, the All-Star Open will take action that will enable all entered participants an opportunity to grab three final transfer spots into the All-Star Race. Comprised of 100 laps and including an intermission caution period on Lap 50, where all teams must perform a four-tire pit stop, the top two finishers of the Open will automatically transfer into the All-Star Race. In addition, one lucky competitor who garners the most electronic votes by race fans will be named the Fan Vote winner and will be awarded the 20th and final starting spot in the main event.

The Open will then be followed by the highly anticipated All-Star event on the same day. Like the previous season, the 2024 All-Star Race will be comprised of 200 laps and feature an All-Star caution period at the halfway mark on Lap 100, where all teams will perform a mandatory four-tire pit stop. This season, however, generates a twist as a second All-Star caution period will occur on Lap 150 prior to a final leg shootout to the finish. For the duration of the event, all laps under green and caution flag scenarios will count and the overtime rules will also be enforced.

With this year’s All-Star Race also centering its focus on tire options, all entered teams will be given nine sets of tires for the duration of the weekend. Five sets of tires will be prime tires marked with yellow letterings and the remaining four sets will be option tires marked with red letterings. Each team will be given three sets of prime tires and two sets of option tires to use for the practice, qualifying, Heat Races and Open events while the teams competing in the All-Star Race will receive two sets of each tire choice (prime and option). While the practice, Heat Races and Open events will enable the teams the option to start on any tire type, all teams are required to use the prime tires during all qualifying sessions (All-Star and Open) and start on the option tire for the All-Star Race. Lastly, all four tires of each car must include the same type of tire selection.

The 2024 All-Star Race entry list features 17 competitors who are set to compete in the main event based on meeting the event’s eligibility criteria, which include winning at least one points event between the 2023 and 2024 seasons, being a former All-Star Race winner or a former Cup Series champion and are full-time competitors.

These 17 eligible competitors feature AJ Allmendinger, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Michael McDowell, Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez and Martin Truex Jr.

The competitor who headlines this year’s All-Star Race’s entry list is Kyle Larson, the reigning three-time All-Star Race winner who became the first competitor to win the All-Star event on three distinct venues (North Wilkesboro, Charlotte Motor Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway) and tied both Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon for the second-most All-Star wins at three. Larson’s 2024 bid for another million-dollar check will add a unique twist to his schedule this upcoming weekend as he is also set to qualify for this year’s 108 running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Arrow McLaren in preparation for his Memorial Day Double Duty effort that will include flying back to Charlotte Motor Speedway in time to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 on May 26.

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images.

With Larson qualifying at Indianapolis, Kevin Harvick, the 2014 Cup Series champion and two-time All-Star Race winner, will briefly step out of full-time NASCAR competition and his new role as an analyst for FOX Sports by practicing Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 entry for the All-Star event. Harvick will also serve as a standby competitor for Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet team throughout the weekend in the event Larson does not return on time for Saturday’s Heat events.

For this year’s All-Star Race, Larson is one of six former All-Star winners entered, including Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. That leaves nearly 65% of the remaining participants for this year’s All-Star Race field who have yet to claim the big million-dollar check for the first time, including last weekend’s Darlington winner Brad Keselowski and last year’s All-Star pole winner Daniel Suarez. All entered competitors, however, have made at least one previous start in the All-Star event.

A notable name who is absent from this list is Shane van Gisbergen, who won the series’ inaugural Chicago Street Course event for his first Cup Series career victory in his debut this past July despite competing as a part-time competitor. van Gisbergen, who currently competes on a full-time basis in this year’s Xfinity Series season and on a part-time basis in the Cup circuit, will not compete in the event due to not having a ride set between a collaborative effort between his two teams: Kaulig Racing and Trackhouse Racing.

The remaining competitors that include Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, rookie Josh Berry, Corey LaJoie, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Bubba Wallace, Daniel Hemric, Todd Gilliland, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley, Ty Gibbs, rookie Zane Smith, rookie Carson Hocevar, Kaz Grala and JJ Yeley will all battle amongst one other to claim the final three transfer spots into the All-Star Race: two through the All-Star Open and one through the Fan Vote.

Last season, Josh Berry, who was competing as a relief competitor for Alex Bowman and Hendrick Motorsports, won the All-Star Open after leading the final 22 laps as he transferred into his first All-Star event. Ty Gibbs, whose No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota pit crew won the 2023 Pit Crew Challenge with a pit time of 13.012 seconds that enabled Gibbs to start on the pole position for the Open, also transferred into the main event after finishing second. In addition, Noah Gragson, who competed last season for Legacy Motor Club and now competes for Stewart-Haas Racing, claimed the final starting spot in the All-Star Race after being named the Fan Vote winner despite finishing seventh in the Open.

Ironically, the trio of Berry, Gibbs and Gragson return to the All-Star Open as they will square off against one another and against 17 names for additional bids to make the All-Star Race. All three, though, are coming off strong runs at Darlington, where Gragson racked up his eighth top-15 result of the 2024 season by finishing 14th while Gibbs and Berry notched second and third-place finishes, respectively.

Photo by John Knittel for SpeedwayMedia.com.

Of the 20 entered competitors for this year’s All-Star Open, half have made at least one start in the All-Star Race, among which include Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Bubba Wallace, Erik Jones, Alex Bowman, Justin Haley and Ty Gibbs. The remaining half that includes Corey LaJoie, Kaz Grala, Harrison Burton, Daniel Hemric, Todd Gilliland, Ryan Preece, John Hunter Nemechek, Timmy Hill, Zane Smith and Carson Hocevar are all looking to make the starting grid for the All-Star Race for the first time ever.

As of this past Thursday, May 9, the top-10 competitors in the Fan Vote’s poll category in alphabetical order are Berry, Bowman, Briscoe, Gibbs, Gragson, Haley, Hocevar, Jones, LaJoie and Wallace. The 2024 Fan Vote winner will be announced at the conclusion of the All-Star Open.

The 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway is set to commence with the All-Star Open Qualifying session that will occur this upcoming Friday, May 17, and air at 5:40 p.m. ET on FS1 followed by the All-Star Race’s Qualifying and Pit Crew Challenge sessions that will follow suit and air at 6:20 p.m. ET on FS1. On Saturday, May 18, the two All-Star Race Heat events will occur, with the first heat’s coverage commencing at 5:20 p.m. ET while the second heat event will follow suit at 6:15 p.m. ET, both airing on FS2. Lastly, the All-Star Open will air on Sunday, May 19, at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1 before the main event, the All-Star Race, will conclude the weekend by occurring at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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