By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Former NASCAR All-Star winners Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson crashed out in the second stage of this year’s race Sunday night at Texas.
Busch, the polesitter and 2017 winner, had a flat right rear tire coming out of the fourth turn and was slowing and going toward the bottom of the frontstretch when he was hit from behind by Ross Chastain, who was going about 185 mph.
Chastain’s No. 1 car went almost all the way on its left side after the rattling collision, before dropping back on all four tires and then careening toward the outside of the track and into 2020 All-Star winner Elliott.
“I saw Kyle have an issue with a tire down. I guessed left and I should have guessed right,” Chastain said.
Elliott said he saw Busch was having an issue, and saw Chastain hit him really hard.
“I just didn’t give him enough room. I knew he was going to go straight, I just didn’t realize he was going to go that far right that quick. I just kind of misjudged it,” Elliott said. “It was really avoidable on my end. I just kind of messed up and didn’t get the gap shot quick enough.”
Busch was the polesitter and had led all but one of the first 48 laps before the wreck. His No. 18 car wiggled coming out of the fourth turn because of a flat right rear tire, before slowing on the frontstretch.
That came only a few laps in the second stage after Larson, who had won his previous two All-Star starts (2019 and 2021), got loose going into fourth turn and slammed hard into the wall before sliding through the grass infield. Larson hadn’t changed tires, and had a right front tire go down.
“It was big, but I’m fine,” Larson said of hitting the outside wall.
Busch had led all 25 laps in a caution-free first stage after starting from the pole.
Austin Cindric was first at the end of the second segment. Ryan Blaney was second, just like he was at the end of the first stage after starting the race there.
Blaney finished the third stage first, putting him at the front for the start of the final segment with his Penske teammates Cindric and Joey Logano, whose team had the fastest pit stop between the second and third stages. The final segment of the race was a 50-lap run to the $1 million prize.
The All-Star race followed a concert by country music superstar Blake Shelton in the infield after the 16-car open race to help complete the field for the main event.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Texas native James Buescher and Daniel Suarez drove their way into the All-Star race earlier Sunday in an open qualifying. Erik Jones, in the No. 43 car for Petty GMS Motorsports, got the final spot in the 24-car field on a fan vote.
Stenhouse and Buescher won the first two 20-lap stages in the qualifying race earlier Sunday. Suarez finished in front during the final 10-lap shootout, the third time the Mexican driver has raced into the All-Star field.
Along with the concert by Shelton, the prerace activities included appearances by several athletes from the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including Hall of Fame receiver Drew Pearson who played for the Dallas Cowboys, three-belt welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr, and former Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco.
Shelton participated in the introduction of the drivers, who entered the stage through oversized saloon doors on a huge facade, and then gave the command for drivers to start their engines.
Texas is the fourth track to host the annual exhibition, but only the second where the All-Star race has been multiple times. The inaugural All-Star race was held in Charlotte in 1985, with Atlanta hosting in 1985 before 33 in a row in Charlotte. The race moved to Bristol in 2020 when North Carolina wouldn’t allow spectators due to COVID-19 restrictions.
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