Several big names not locked into NASCAR All-Star Race

several big names not locked into nascar all-star race

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace surveys the track

With NASCAR’s All-Star Race set to run on Sunday night at North Wilkesboro, several big names aren’t locked into the main event.

To be locked into the race without having to run the All-Star Open, drivers need to have won a race in either 2024 or 2023 or be a past All-Star Race winner. This leaves drivers such as Bubba Wallace, Alex Bowman and Chase Briscoe with no choice but to race their way in through the Open on Sunday afternoon.

Winning a stage in the All-Star Open guarantees a spot in the All-Star Race, so expect drivers to be on the move right after the race gets underway as they search for the earliest possible opportunity to make the main event.

Another driver who has to race their way into Sunday night’s All-Star Race is second-year racer Ty Gibbs, who at just 21 years old has been extremely consistent this season, finishing in the top 10 in 7-of-10 of the 13 Cup Series races. Gibbs finished second in the Open race last year to earn his way into the All-Star Race.

The winner of the 2023 All-Star Open was short-track ace Josh Berry, who returns to North Wilkesboro not as a substitute driver, but as a full-time driver for Stewart-Haas Racing. Coming off a third-place finish at Darlington, Berry finally has some positive momentum on his side. The All-Star Race doesn’t pay out any points, but if Berry can make the All-Star Race and put forth a solid effort, it would bode well for a team desperate for a push in the second half of the regular season.

Bubba Wallace, who finished second in last year’s All-Star Race behind Kyle Larson, must race his way in through the Open as well. While Wallace did make the Cup Series playoffs last season, he was winless in doing so, meaning he’ll have to work a little harder to avenge his 2023 defeat.

Alex Bowman missed the 2023 All-Star Race due to a back injury, giving an opportunity to the aforementioned Josh Berry to drive the iconic No. 48 car. Bowman has a distinct disadvantage from the rest of the field, as while he didn’t turn a single lap at North Wilkesboro in 2023 he has quietly put together a good season this year, notching eight top-10 finishes in the Cup Series.

While there are some stars who will likely miss the All-Star Race altogether, having so many playoff-caliber drivers in the All-Star Open will only make it that much more intense for the drivers and fans.

The NASCAR All-Star Open will go green at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, with the All-Star Race starting shortly after 8 p.m. ET. Both races will air on Fox Sports 1.

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