This week is the All-Star Race and it is taking the NASCAR Cup Series back to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time in 26 years.
The last time a Cup Series race was held at North Wilkesboro Speedway was September 29, 1996. Jeff Gordon was the winner of that race in the #24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. This weekend the Cup Series haulers, teams and fans will be back for a race that is not about points or a series championship. It will be about winning $1 million and bragging rights.
Even when NASCAR was racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway each year the track was a challenge for drivers. It is a unique short track that is between the half-mile tracks and the mile tracks in length. It is a paved oval with unique uphill backstretch and downhill frontstretch.
North Wilkesboro Speedway Data
Track Size: 0.625-mile
Banking/Turns: 14 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch & Backstretch: 3 degrees
To be eligible for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race, a driver must fall in one of these three categories…
- Won a points event in either 2022 or 2023.
- Won a NASCAR All-Star Race and compete full-time
- Won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete full-time.
The drivers that meet those eligibility guidelines are: Ross Chastain, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex, Jr., Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse and Daniel Suárez.
Three additional positions will be added to the NASCAR All-Star Race field following the All-Star Open:
- All-Star Open Winner
- All-Star Open Runner-Up
- NASCAR Fan Vote Winner
The formats for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Weekend racing events are below…
The NASCAR All-Star Race & Open Qualifying (Pit Crew Challenge) formats are as follows:
- The Pit Crew Challenge on Friday (May 19) will determine the starting lineups for the two Heat races and the Open.
- Pit Crew Challenge order is determined by current driver point standings in reverse (going from last to first).
- Each car’s qualifying time will be based solely on their pit stop time from the Pit Crew Challenge.
- Timing lines will be established one box behind and one box ahead of the designated pit box.
- Teams must complete a four-tire stop during the Pit Crew Challenge.
NASCAR All-Star Heat Race format is as follows:
- The 21 drivers already locked into the NASCAR All-Star Race field will be split into two 60-lap (37.5 miles) Heat races on Saturday night (May 20) which will determine the starting lineup for the All-Star Race.
- All laps (caution and green flag) will count. Each Heat race will get one chance at overtime if needed.
- Results of Heat 1 will establish the inside row, results of Heat 2 will establish the outside row.
- The remaining teams not already locked into the NASCAR All-Star Race will compete in the All-Star Open.
NASCAR All-Star Open format is as follows:
- The All-Star Open on Sunday (May 21) will feature drivers not previously eligible for the All-Star Race.
- The All-Star Open will be 100 laps (62.5 miles).
- All laps (caution and green flag) will count. The Open will get one chance at overtime if needed.
- A competition break at or around Lap 40.
- Three Open drivers will advance to the All-Star Race – the top two race finishers and the Fan Vote Winner.
The NASCAR All-Star Race format is as follows:
- Technical rules for the cars will remain the same as other NASCAR Cup Series short track races.
- The NASCAR All-Star Race will be 200 laps (125 miles).
- A competition break at or around Lap 100 (halfway).
- All laps (caution and green flag) will count.
- NASCAR Overtime rules are in effect (unlimited attempts).
- Each team will start on sticker tires for the All-Star Race and have three additional sets to use.
- After the competition break, only one additional set of stickers can be used.
- All-Star Race winner earns $1 million.
Active drivers who have won the NASCAR All-Star Race in previous years at other tracks are:
|Kyle Larson||2 Wins||2021, 2019|
|Kevin Harvick||2 Wins||2018, 2007|
|Ryan Blaney||1 Win||2022|
|Chase Elliott||1 Win||2020|
|Kyle Busch||1 Win||2017|
|Joey Logano||1 Win||2016|
|Denny Hamlin||1 Win||2015|
|Ryan Newman||1 Win||2002|
It really is a coin toss as to who will win this year’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race. There are so many unknowns this year that realistically any driver and any team could find themselves in the right place at the end.
We will see who claims the $1 million payday and leaves North Wilkesboro Speedway with major bragging rights starting with the All-Star Open at 4 p.m. central time (5 p.m. eastern time) followed by the NASCAR All-Star Race at 7 p.m. central time (8 p.m. eastern time) Sunday, May 21st.
(Feature photo credit: YouTube)
By: Buck Stevens