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There was so much hoopla surrounding the release of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule last year that the moving of the All-Star Race from Charlotte to Texas actually flew under the radar.

There was so much talk about the addition of a dirt race and new venues plus the addition of more road courses that what is always a highly anticipate stop on the schedule became somewhat over looked.

The All-Star Race had been a fixture at Charlotte Motor Speedway until last year when the event was moved to Bristol Motor Speedway because of COVID-19.

This season the event is once again on the move as it moves west to Texas Motor Speedway and along with it a new format unlike anything we have seen in past editions of the non-point awarding race.

Since it is a non-point paying race and the reward for winning is a million dollar check, you should expect to see a race unlike anything on the 36- points paying race schedule.

The All-Star Race format will feature six rounds of racing, totaling 100 laps. Rounds one through four will be 15 laps; Round 5 will be 30 laps and the Final Round will feature a 10-lap shootout. In each of the Rounds only green flag laps will count toward the total laps of that Round.

Every driver that makes the field will always be in the hunt for the win as the lineups to begin each Round also changes from what we see during a normal Cup race.

A the beginning of Round 2, the field will be inverted via random draw with a minimum of eight and a maximum of 12 drivers having to change their starting positions.

Before the start of Round 3, the entire field will be inverted. It doesn’t end with Round 3 as the beginning of Round 4 will once again be inverted via random draw with a minimum of eight and a maximum of twelve. The start of Round 5 doesn’t feature an invert of any type but the starting positions will consist of the cumulative finish from Rounds 1-4.

The lowest cumulative finisher starts on the pole, second-lowest rolls off second and on down the line.

All cars must enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire pit stop during Round 5. The fastest team on pit road during the mandatory pit stop will earn $100,000.

Entry into the All-Star Race is limited to drivers who have won a points event in either 2020 or 2021. A driver who has won a past All-Star Race or a driver that has captured a NASCAR Cup Series Championship and competes full-time in the series will also be included on the starting grid.

Seventeen drivers have secured their spot in the field by meeting the above criteria but an additional four drivers will have the opportunity to start the race. The NASCAR Open will run immediately prior the All-Star race this Sunday and it too will feature a unique format.

It will include three segments of 20/20/10 laps with the winner of each segment transferring into the featured event.

A fourth driver will make the starting field by winning the Fan Vote of who they would like to see in the race.

All of the ingredients needed to guarantee a great night of racing will be in play at Texas on Sunday as the format and unique way of setting the starting lineup for each Round gives every driver who takes the green flag a chance to walk off with the huge payday.

It’s the one race of the year where a crew chief and driver can roll the dice without worrying about where they finish or how many points they have earned.

There is only once check to be given out at the end of the night and it has enough zeros to make things get interesting as it gets closer and closer to the checkered flag.

Steve Mickey writes about NASCAR for HD Media

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