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Last Updated May 22, 2022, 22:54 PM

NASCAR All-Star Race Picks, Predictions, Odds

You know why I love NASCAR’s All-Star Race?

It begins with the feature race limiting invitations to drivers that have a Cup win in the last two seasons, won a NASCAR Championship, or won a past All-Star Race. All the riff-raff jalopies that cause half the cautions in a regular season race have to race their way in or be voted in. The All-Star race features the best of the best the series has to offer.

Then there’s the incentive to win. How about a big $1 million check to the winner? To make it more enticing, the drivers don’t have to worry about points. This race doesn’t count for anything except the winner getting a big fat check. This creates a mindset for the driver of not caring about making a daring move. It makes them without fear of losing points in the standings or wrecking a car.

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE PICKS & PREDICTIONS

It’s all about the big check, right Kyle Busch?

“I think it’s just all about the money on the line,” Busch said. “There’s a completely different set of how the race is going to unfold and things like that, but you essentially still have your stages, but they are mostly shorter. Other than that, it’s just about trying to go out there and win that million dollars and bring home a check or bring home a steering wheel, I guess, with our M&M’S Crunchy Cookie Camry.”

Busch took home the big check in 2017 when the race was held in Charlotte. Sunday’s All-Star Race will held at Texas Motor Speedway’s high-banked 1.5-mile layout for the second straight season after the 2020 COVID-19 crisis forced the race out of Charlotte to Bristol where Chase Elliott won the big check. That’s another allure, having the All-Star Race being held at multiple tracks.

"I’m glad that NASCAR has started rotating this event some,” Elliott said. “I think that’s what this event was initially designed to do. To give fans in the different regions a special event and I think that’s really cool. It’s more like what other forms of sports do. I’m hoping that next year they switch it up and head somewhere else after being back in Texas for the second year. It’s not exactly one of my best tracks, but we did put in a pretty good effort last year and the pit crew was able to get the job done. Hopefully with this year’s format, it will be entertaining for the fans and we can put on a good show for them.”

Kurt Busch won last week's AdventHealth 400. (Getty)

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE BETTING RESOURCES

  • Date: Sunday, May 22, 2022
  • TV-Time: FS1, 6:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Distance: 187.5 miles
  • Laps: 125

I’m sure Elliott is hoping for a road course to get an All-Star Race date, but let’s hold off on that for a few decades. Martinsville, Darlington, Dover, Bristol, Richmond or North Wilkesboro would be awesome hosts and provide great racing.

I’m not all that confident of Elliott’s chances on a 1.5-mile track, but the format of the race looks to be beneficial for him. The first three stages are 25 laps and the final stage is 50 laps. Elliott can go all out for 25 laps without fear of losing much grip. In 80 Cup starts on intermediate tracks, Elliott has just two wins (Kansas 2018, Charlotte 2020) and I believe it’s because he’s not very good at taking care of his tires to be fast on a long run.

I had one of my nice readers last week ask me why I don’t talk about Elliott much, “what did he kick your dog or something?” Yes it was funny, and it also made me realize that I don’t talk about him a lot unless it’s a road course or how I had him in my top-five at Dover. I tried to explain that it’s mostly because Elliott is overpriced each week. He’s 8-to-1 to win this week and most weeks he’s 7-to-1, but his stats are what they are. But if we put a gimmick in and give him fresh tires quicker, he’s going to be running with the favorites. 

Elliott is kind of the new Dale Earnhardt Jr, except Elliott has already won a title, where his odds on every track are low just because he’s one of the more popular drivers bet every week. The sportsbook knows he should 14-to-1 at a track, but start him at 8-to-1 because action will force him there eventually so why not start there because his fans will bet him at whatever price. Elliott isn’t overrated, he’s just routinely overpriced.

In 11 Cup starts at Texas, Elliott has two top-fives and has an 11.5 average finish. He was third in the All-Star Race at Texas last season. I have a bet on him to win among my six wagers to win placed already.

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE BETTING ANALYSIS

NASCAR has been quick on the draw to find the most interesting format for the All-Star Race each season, and this season they’ve rewarded the winner of the first stage to the pole of the final 50-lap stage. I like it and so does 9-to-2 favorite Kyle Larson.      

"The format sounds exciting,” Larson said. “It’s always interesting because it seems like the format is different each year. I’m sure (crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) and the team will study to see what strategy may work the best – but I’m sure that strategy is trying our best to win the first segment so we can start on the pole for the final one. Hopefully we can get another all-star win."

Larson is getting a bit greedy because he’s won two of the last three All-Star Races, and the one he didn’t win in 2020 was because he didn’t race while on suspension. Larson’s All-Star win last season was his first win at Texas as Cup driver, but it doesn’t show up in his stats so he went there in the fall to lead 256 of the 334 laps for his first official points paying win at Texas. 

This was the juncture of his 2021 championship season that he took his season into overdrive by winning nine of the final 23 races, including the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte the week following his All-Star win. So far this season he has a win at Fontana and two runner-ups at 1.5-mile layouts at Las Vegas and Kansas, which has me paying extra special attention to him this week. He smacked the wall at least six times while leading or in second-place last week and kept rolling along racing for the win. Tough car, tough driver. 

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE CONTENDERS

Now let’s circle back to Kyle Busch who is 7-to-1 to win this week. Like Larson, Busch had top-fives at the 1.5s of Las Vegas (4th) and Kansas (3rd) where he led laps and was a contender most of the races. He’s the active leader at Texas with four Cup wins, 10 Xfinity Series wins, and five Truck Series wins. He is Mr. Texas in NASCAR and now he gets a chance to win another $1 million check. What’s the secret to winning another big check, Kyle?

“I think just being aggressive and knowing when to be aggressive and how to be aggressive is the biggest thing,” Busch said. “It’s a race where you have to get to the front and you have to get out there and get yourself, more importantly, in clean air in order to keep yourself out front and on your own.”

Getting out front and staying out front makes sense and it’s why I’ve gravitated to Larson, Elliott and Busch to win this race.

But what about all six Toyota drivers? They all finished in the top-10 at Kansas last week. Denny Hamlin, the 2015 All-Star winner, looked as if he’d passed every car about three times each last week. His car was fast but the team made some bad mistakes again which have plagued them all season. But he still finished fourth.

HANDICAPPING THE NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE

Christopher Bell is 15-to-1 to win this week and has won at Texas in the Trucks and Xfinity Series, but most of all it’s what he did last week starting from the pole and finishing fifth. He had the fastest 10-consecutive lap average during practice Saturday and led 37 laps on race day. Martin Truex Jr. would also finish sixth. 

That’s JGR finishing third, fourth, fifth, and sixth at Kansas. All those notes from last week will transfer over well for Texas.

So what’s that mean for Kurt Busch who gave owner Michael Jordon his first win in the No. 45 car. Busch showed us he was fast on Saturday laying down the fastest lap in practice and would go on to lead a race-high 116 laps before winning and beating a tenacious Larson. Busch is 18-to-1 to win Sunday’s All-Star Race.

Who could ever forget the Busch Brothers in the 2007 All-Star Race when the younger brother Kyle wrecked older brother Kurt who was leading the race. They wanted to win so bad they wrecked each other. I love everything about that skirmish, even the fact that the brothers didn’t talk to each other for over a year until their grandmother told them to knock it off at Thanksgiving. That’s what All-Star racing was meant to be. Not making friends, not sissy-stepping because he’s your brother, no, it’s all out all the way until winning that big check.

The last driver I need to comment on is Ross Chastain who is 10-to-1 to win Sunday. His seven top-fives in 13 traces lead the Cup Series and his two wins are tied for the most. There have been 11 different drivers to win in 13 races. The MVP for the first third of the season has to be Chastain so why not win the All-Star Race too. He certainly has the speed and the aggressiveness to win. On 1.5-mile tracks this season he was third at Las Vegas (led the most laps with 83), runner-up at Atlanta (using superspeedway package) and was seventh at Kansas.

The final thing I like about the All-Star Race is the NASCAR All-Star Open (5:30 pm ET) qualifying race which allows three drivers to race their way in by wining one of the three stages (20 laps / 20 laps / 10 laps). This gives a chance for the non-winners to race themselves into the All-Star Race. Drivers like Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Daniel Suarez get a shot to jump in with the big boys. And then there’s a fan vote on NASCAR.com that will push another driver into the big race.

NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION

  1. #18 Kyle Busch (7/1)
  2. #45 Kurt Busch (18/1)
  3. #5 Kyle Larson (9/2)
  4. #9 Chase Elliott (8/1)
  5. #1 Ross Chastain (10/1) 

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