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Kyle Larson Is An All-Star

Image: Matt Kelley/AP Photo


Six years ago, North Wilkesboro Speedway was all but abandoned. Weeds were growing up through the cracks of the concrete. Kudzu was enveloping the grandstands where thousands of fans used to watch the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. In December 2019, an idea came about amongst those with iRacing. Led by Dale Jr, the track was cleared of the weeds and debris that had consumed the track over the years. This was to scan the surface of the track to program it into iRacing. Then, the talks and rumors started to swirl. On November 18th, 2021, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the 2021-2022 North Carolina State budget. This included $40 Million dedicated to helping Charlotte Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, and North Wilkesboro Speedway.

On September 8th, 2022, it was announced that NASCAR would return to North Wilkesboro. They weren’t returning for just another point-paying race. North Wilkesboro would host the NASCAR All-Star race in 2023. When it was announced that NASCAR would return to North Wilkesboro for the first time in 27 years, it grew on a national level. This was the attention that NASCAR needed. Take a track that has been restored to its’ former glory and host the All-Star Race. Nothing mattered more than winning the big check for $1 Million.

Larson puts on an All-Star Showing:

Coming out of Darlington, the big headline was once again Ross Chastain vs Kyle Larson. Larson was the overall favorite going into Darlington and had a great shot at winning. Unfortunately, on a late-race restart with six laps to go, Chastain and Larson wrecked each other in turn one. Larson stated in an interview on NASCAR RaceHub that he was a little frustrated but thankful for the fast racecars from Hendrick Motorsports. Larson also stated in the same interview that he had never raced at North Wilkesboro in the past. What better time to win at a track than the first time you race on it? As the weekend rolled around, Larson won the Truck Series race on Saturday afternoon. He was not slated to start this race, but he subbed in for his Hendrick teammate, Alex Bowman, who is still out due to injury.

That was one race done for the weekend, the question was if Larson could pull off the weekend sweep. In the heat races Saturday night for the All-Star Race, Larson was terrible. He finished in eighth place, which equated to the 16th starting spot for Sunday. After the lap 18 caution during the All-Star Race, Larson was told to pit for four tires. However, Larson was caught speeding on pit road so he would have to start dead last. It only took Larson 34 laps to take the lead. That’s how good his car was. After that, Larson never looked back. This is Larson’s third All-Star race win, each coming in the last five All-Star races and each at a different track. Now that the All-Star race is in the rearview mirror, what’s next for North Wilkesboro?

Could North Wilkesboro have a Point-Paying race next year?

Ever since the All-Star Race was announced to be hosted at North Wilkesboro, fans have been pondering if North Wilkesboro would get a point-paying race in 2024. There have been rumors and speculation for months before the All-Star Race about a point-paying race. Marcus Smith, the president of SMI, says that there are ongoing negotiations, but nothing is set in stone just yet. It would be great to see North Wilkesboro once again host a points-paying NASCAR Cup Series race. The problem is that the racing on Sunday was not great. This is once again due to the next-gen car having continuous issues on short tracks. There is continuous hope that NASCAR will make changes to the car for short tracks. The car is not made for short tracks, plain and simple. The car is made for intermediate tracks, which is exactly the type of track NASCAR is heading next.

What to Expect from Charlotte:

It has been well-documented that the next-gen car does great on intermediate tracks, which is the type of track Charlotte is. Last year, the Coca-Cola 600 became the longest-running race in NASCAR history at 619.5 miles. This is due to the pure chaos that took place on the track which led to several overtime restarts. However, there is a chance of rain in the Charlotte and Concord area on Sunday. There is a chance that the drivers could be racing to the rain for the win, or not racing at all on Sunday. If they do race on Sunday, keep an eye on Kyle Larson. He won the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 and more than likely should’ve won the 2022 Coca-Cola 600. It would not be a shock to see the #5 car at the front of the field once again this year this coming weekend.

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