Kyle Busch and the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will start from the pole position for Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race after defeating Ryan Blaney and the No. 12 Team Penske Ford in a head-to-head matchup for the $1 million-to-win non-points race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Each driver had to win two rounds of competition to make the final-round pairing for the opportunity to then lead the 24-car field for Sunday evening’s 125-lap race.

Sunday’s on-track schedule begins with The NASCAR Open for non-all-star qualifiers at 4:30 p.m., with three drivers transferring to the All-Star Race due to their on-track performance and one more earning a spot from the fan vote. Following the Blake Shelton concert that begins at 5:30 p.m., the NASCAR All-Star Race will begin at 7 p.m. (TV: FS1, Radio: MRN, SiriusXM Radio, 95.9 The Ranch). 

The first-of-its-kind format began with a traditional single-car, one-lap opening round. From there, the fastest eight qualifiers transferred to a three-round, head-to-head eliminations bracket featuring two cars staged in adjacent pit stalls near the end of pit road. At the sound of an alert, each pit crew performed a four-tire stop and, at the drop of the jack, drivers exited their pit stalls (with no speed limit) onto the track. The first car back to the start/finish line advanced to the next round with the final pairing competing for the pole.

 William Byron was quickest in the first round of NASCAR All-Star Race qualifying, with a best single-lap run of 28.528 seconds at 189.288 mph in his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. The balance of the top eight qualifiers moving on to the single-elimination bracket were Blaney, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex, Jr., Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, and Aric Almirola.

In the Round of 8, Byron defeated Almirola, Blaney got around Chastain, Larson ended Kurt Busch’s competition, and Kyle Busch got past JGR teammate Truex.

In the Round of 4, the final pairing was set when Blaney got by Byron and Larson stalled at the starting lights to give Busch an uncontested run to the start/finish.