Ford Performance NASCAR: Custer Win Gives Ford Six Guaranteed Starters in All-Star Race


Cole Custer’s win on Sunday added one more Ford driver to the All-Star Race lineup on Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The annual event will be at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway for only the second time in NASCAR history with the Open scheduled to start at 7 p.m., followed by the main event at 8:30.

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There are six Ford drivers guaranteed a place in the All-Star field with four additional spots available through the preliminary Open and Fan Vote. Currently, all three drivers from Team Penske, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, are in the race while Stewart-Haas will be represented by Kevin Harvick and Cole Custer, and Roush Fenway Racing by Ryan Newman, who won the All-Star Race in 2002 with Ford.


The first time Ford won the All-Star Race was in 1986 when Bill Elliott drove his Thunderbird to Victory Lane, but that race is remembered for another trivial fact as well. That marked the only time, prior to this year, that the event has been run at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott’s home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway served as host on Mother’s Day that year, a date NASCAR traditionally does not race. With only 10 cars making up the field, Elliott darted to the lead from his outside front row starting position and never gave it up as he led all 83 laps en route to a popular victory with the fans.


Michael Waltrip’s win in 1996 marked his first victory in NASCAR’s top division and was the first in the event for Wood Brothers Racing. Waltrip almost didn’t get into the big show because he had to battle it out in the preliminary Winston Open, where he grabbed the final transfer spot by holding off Johnny Benson to finish fifth. That meant he started last in the 20-car main event, which was called the Winston Select. After the first two 30-lap segments had been completed, Waltrip found himself fourth for the final 10-lap shootout. He passed Rusty Wallace for third after an aborted restart, and then was riding behind Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte, who were battling side-by-side. As the two entered turn one with eight laps to go, they made contact which slowed them down enough to allow Waltrip to dart to the inside and pass both of them for the lead. He held on the rest of the way to post his first win of any kind in NASCAR’s top division.


Davey Allison had won the 1991 version of the All-Star Race, but when he and the other competitors came back the following year it was a totally different experience. Why? The 1992 Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first NASCAR superspeedway race run under the lights. Billed as “One Hot Night” it lived up to that billing as the final 10-lap shootout featured a battle between Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty, who were racing for the win on the final lap. Earnhardt was in the lead coming down the backstretch, but as they entered turn three Petty appeared to tap the familiar No. 3, which sent Earnhardt sliding toward the outside wall. That enabled Allison to get to Petty’s rear bumper coming off turn four and then go to the inside as they entered the tri-oval. As the two hit the finish line, Petty and Allison made contact sending the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford into the outside wall. Allison ended up winning by half-a-car-length, but didn’t get to experience Victory Lane as he had to be cut out of the car and removed through the roof before being placed on a stretch and airlifted to an area hospital with a concussion and bruised lung.


Carl Edwards took home the $1 million prize for winning the main event in 2011, capturing three of the four segments, while Roush Fenway teammate David Ragan won the preliminary Sprint Showdown. The race came down to a mandatory four-tire pit stop to begin the fourth and final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag. The 99 crew got Edwards out first and he was never threatened over the last 15 miles as he beat Kyle Busch to the finish line. It marked the third time in history Ford swept the Showdown and All-Star Race. The other two occasions came in 1996 with Jimmy Spencer (Showdown) and Michael Waltrip (All-Star), and 1998 with Jeremy Mayfield (Showdown) and Mark Martin (All-Star). The win was the fourth for car owner Jack Roush, who also won with Matt Kenseth (2004) and Mark Martin (1998 and 2005).


Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski made All-Star history as they became the first teammates to sweep the top two spots in the All-Star Race when they did it in 2016. Logano came out on top of a side-by-side battle with Kyle Larson in the final two laps, getting clear with just over one lap to go after Larson hit the outside wall coming off turn two. That enabled Keselowski to get the runner-up spot and successfully commemorate the 50th Anniversary of car owner Roger Penske’s career in motorsports. It marked Ford’s 11th All-Star Race win and first in five years since Edwards won in 2011.


Kevin Harvick used a push from Ford teammate Joey Logano down the stretch to win the 2018 All-Star Race, a race that featured a new aerodynamic package that utilized restrictor plates for the first time on a 1.5-mile track. In addition, a larger spoiler designed to keep the cars packed together and create passing through the night was used and resulted in 38 lead changes. Harvick was the dominant driver as he won Stage 1 and Stage 3 before leading all 10 laps of the final segment. Daniel Suarez finished second with Logano third.

1986 – Bill Elliott
1991 – Davey Allison
1992 – Davey Allison
1994 – Geoffrey Bodine
1996 – Michael Waltrip
1998 – Mark Martin
2002 – Ryan Newman
2004 – Matt Kenseth
2005 – Mark Martin
2011 – Carl Edwards
2016 – Joey Logano
2018 – Kevin Harvick

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


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