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Kyle Larson thwarted pit strategy from Bubba Wallace and held off Ty Majeski on an overtime restart to win the first NASCAR race at North Wilkesboro Speedway since Jeff Gordon won the last Cup race there in 1996.
While the finish had some excitement, Larson had actually dominated the race, leading 138 of the 252 laps and winning stage two. Matt DiBenedetto finished third behind Majeski, while Carson Hocevar finished fourth. Wallace faded back to finish fifth.
Originally not scheduled to race, Larson drove Spire Motorsports’ No. 7 in place of Alex Bowman, who was unable due to an injury sustained in a sprint car accident.
Top Storylines of the Race
- Several drivers came from the Cup Series to take part in the first race back in Wilkes County, including Larson, Wallace, Christopher Bell, William Byron and Ross Chastain. Josh Williams competed as well, the lone Xfinity Series regular to do so.
- Corey Heim won the pole for the race and ended up winning stage one, ultimately finishing sixth at the end of the race.
- Dean Thompson was taken out in a crash late in the race, finishing 35th, and was noticeably unhappy in his post-race interview upon exiting the infield care center.
- Along with Thompson, several other Truck Series regulars had troubles in the race that led to poor finishes, including Christian Eckes (25th), Nick Sanchez (30th), Zane Smith (32nd), Ben Rhodes (33rd) and Rajah Caruth (34th).
The Winning Move
A late caution for a crash between Rhodes, Smith, Caruth and Tyler Ankrum set up the final pit stop of the race. Wallace and Majeski were among drivers to take two tires while Larson and other took four.
Wallace held the lead on the restart with 24 laps to go but Larson’s truck was too much for Wallace, who eventually relinquished the lead to Larson with 13 laps to go.
Despite another caution coming out, sending the race to overtime, Larson’s No. 7 was just too fast for the field to handle.
While no one new locks into the playoff, there is a new points leader: Heim.
Smith’s low finish was enough to boot him out of the points lead. Majeski theoretically should have taken the points lead back, but Heim leapfrogged him in the standings by scoring more stage points than Majeski.
However, Heim’s lead is just seven points over Majeski, so there is still no room for error with six races left before the playoffs.
How about Daniel Dye leading the rookies this week? He managed to stay out of trouble all race and finish a very respectable 14th, earning him Rookie of the Race.
A shoutout is in order for Bret Holmes as well, who finished right behind Dye in 15th.
No. 2 – Nick Sanchez (30th)
No. 17 – Taylor Gray (21st)
No. 24 – Rajah Caruth (34th)
No. 32 – Bret Holmes (15th)
No. 35 – Jake Garcia (23rd)
No. 43 – Daniel Dye (14th)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (29th)
One Thought About This Race
This race featured a record 12 cautions for 81 laps, nearly a third of the entire race. A record that hadn’t been broken for 27 years due to dormancy was broken in the first race back.
Maybe Thompson has a right to be frustrated. Or maybe it was a product of racing on a track that hadn’t been used in 27 years and hasn’t been paved in probably 40. But either way, that’s an egregious amount of cautions for what should be a standard short track.
The Truck Series have run two races this season that have seen more yellow-flag laps than green-flag laps. Granted, both races were rain-shortened, but to a casual fan, to look at those races and then look at races like this one, it would be understandable if they were not inclined to watch the series.
Hocevar mentioned that he wants stage cautions eliminated and that stacking the field up like that is part of the reason cautions are breeding cautions.
But either way, NASCAR should look into the amount of cautions that consume the Truck Series and see if there is a way to interrupt the flow of a race way less than it is now.
Paint Scheme of the Race
Stewart Friesen‘s weekend was seemingly quiet compared to a lot of other drivers, finishing a respectable 13th. However, the deep red of his Ferris Mowers No. 52 is too irresistible to not give paint scheme of the race.
Especially when you’re racing with a heavy heart.
Halmar Friesen Racing honored a fallen crew membe, Jon Gurley, this weekend after he passed away during the week following Darlington Raceway. The team put his name and image on the truck, and has also displayed the final text he sent to the HFR crew following Darlington.
Rest in peace, Jon.
Where to Next?
Let’s go home. Literally.
The Craftsman Truck Series returns to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the home track to most teams whose race shops are located in or around the Speedway.
Coverage for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on May 26, returning to FOX Sports 1 for the action.
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is currently pursuing a master's degree. He is a theatre actor and fight choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.
You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.
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