Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud at the All-Star Race: This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s North Wilkesboro

What Happened?

The NASCAR All-Star Race turned into another Wilkesboro whooping as Joey Logano led from the jump, earning his second million-dollar win. Logano bested Kyle Larson’s domination last year, leading all but one lap.

Just behind Logano, Denny Hamlin kept touch but couldn’t challenge the No. 22. Chris Buescher finally got around Larson to finish on the figurative podium.

See also
Joey Logano Leads All But 1 Lap in Dominant All-Star Victory

What Really Happened?

The talk of the town centered on tires going into the weekend. The new surface at North Wilkesboro Speedway quickly overshadowed the slightly varied Goodyear compounds. If anything, the tires really didn’t prove anything.

Instead, the new, speedy surface of the renovated racetrack stole the show, becoming the true all-star.

Sure, the North Wilkesboro revival came to fruition in the 2023 All-Star Race on the aged pavement. But the shiny facilities, the bright lights and the new pavement with the progressive banking marks the rebirth of the short track in Wilkes County.

This ain’t your grandpa’s North Wilkesboro. The new, slightly progressive banking garnered little attention during the repave process, but it races like Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park with multiple grooves that allow for drivers to go searching for clean air and grip. 

Sure, the final segments of the All-Star Race showed a top-dominant track, but the early half showcased some incredible side-by-side action throughout the field.

The multi-groove racing came as a surprise especially because repaves usually take time to widen the racing line. Even with the tire disappointment, it did lay down rubber across the track.

Unfortunately, the flaws of the Next Gen short track package reared their ugly heads once again. Action like this is fun for a little while, but if the faster car can’t pass, the fun starts to end.

Still, North Wilkesboro deserves a chance on the points-paying calendar once again. Just imagine what a full 40-car field would look like.

Who Stood Out?

Yeah, Logano dominated the whole event and won the race. What’s the big deal? Well, until recently, Ford stayed a few steps behind, and Logano has especially seemed to struggle compared to the Blue Ovals at RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports, half of the Stewart-Haas Racing cars, and even his teammate Ryan Blaney.

Through the first 13 races, Logano only has one top five and three top 10s. In his down years, Logano still seems to find a way to earn solid finishes, but that has not been the case so far this year.

After taking the pole, Logano utilized Ford’s newfound speed and found his winning form. Though he didn’t earn any points, this win should give Team Penske and the No. 22 crew a big shot in the arm for these next few weeks.

Who Fell Flat?

Martin Truex Jr. has been a short track master in his time with Joe Gibbs Racing, but he didn’t make much noise Sunday night on the way to an 11th-place finish.

See also
Punches Thrown Between Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, & Crews

This may not count as ‘falling flat’ because Kyle Busch battled to finish 10th, but he had a seemingly uncharacteristic race. Busch had a very short fuse that lit on the opening set of corners after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. put Busch three-wide, and the No. 8 hit the wall. Busch quickly retaliated and ended Stenhouse’s race on just the second lap.

After the All-Star break, Busch went two for two in being involved in the cautions for incident when he cooked the entry of turn 1 again and spun Ty Gibbs.

During the 200 laps, Stenhouse steamed, unable to leave the track. He hinted a few times that he had something in store for Busch, and he actually made good on his promise in the infield.

Better Than Last Time?

The hype surrounding the return to North Wilkesboro in 2023 made up for a lackluster on-track product. While the second edition of the All-Star Race in Wilkes County had even less passes for the lead, the action more than exceeded all of what we witnessed last time.

It’s a shame we were robbed of heat racing Saturday night, because that might have made this a near-perfect All-Star weekend, even with Logano’s domination.

Paint Scheme of the Race

The obvious top choice for this weekend’s reward goes to Trackhouse Racing and its flannel-covered car. With summer just around the corner, a glance at the No. 1 sent an October wind through the television screen.

In addition to best paint schemes, Ross Chastain also wins in the best All-Star entrance category for the third year in a row.

Other than AJ Allmendinger, the rest of the drivers need to step up their entrance game.

What’s Next?

The NASCAR Cup Series takes on its second crown jewel of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled for Sunday, May 26 at 6 p.m. on FOX.

Let’s see if Larson has anything to say about that.

About the author

calebbarnes924

I began sports writing in 2023 with The Liberty Champion, where I officially covered my first NASCAR race at Richmond in the spring. While there, I met some of the guys from Frontstretch, and I joined the video editing team after I graduated from Liberty University with degrees in Strategic Communications and Sports Journalism. I currently work full-time as a Multi-Media Journalist with LEX 18 News in Lexington, Kentucky and contribute to Frontstretch with writing and video editing. I'm also behind-the-scenes or on camera for the Happy Hour Podcast, live every Tuesday night at 7:30!

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Daytona-520

How much did NASCAR pay to make this article so positive? If you’re being held at gunpoint, blink twice.

Steve

No disrespect to Logano, but pretty much any other driver who started on the pole would have ran away with that race. I really want this track to succeed, but it was just another disappointment and the 2 tire option was a complete non factor. But luckily the fight will distract everyone from the horrible show that was put on last night.

I gotta ask. What was Busch thinking? If 2 laps is all it takes to set him off, maybe he needs to think about retiring. He also got the wrong guy. The 34 car pinched Stenhouse which caused him to get into the 8. Glad to see him get popped in the mouth, though. Been a long time coming to be honest.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve
Bill B

Busch is just panicking because he realizes he’s become irrelevant by virtue of driving for a second tier team.

janice

i thought the pre-race driver intros were horrible. no crowds on the track, yeah then walked through the lower isle area of the stands, they had to wait to throw stuff to the fans until they got to the fence.

race…..horrible.no passing for the lead, they tried on restarts. leader took off.

i got tired of hearing about the tires!

Kevin in SoCal

Did you watch the videos in the article? Lots of attempted passing for the lead, but Logano got back around in front again. The stat sheet only shows Logano leading all the laps, though.

Definitely wish the alternate tires wore out faster, though.

DoninAjax

“Attempted passing” happens in every example of Brian’s product with the same result…failure! It’s not the tracks!

Carl D.

Caleb… are you sure you watched the same race the rest of us did?

janice

i often wonder that as well. i started believing my tv broadcasted different races. it was horrible.

Shayne

The racing sucks. It’s not tires or the venue. It’s NASCAR parity and a car incapable of producing green flag battles up front. Only restarts and GWC’s add any value to the overall race. The racing has become a boring infomercial.

DoninAjax

The 54 started first and led the whole way. The 22 started on pole and led the whole way. It can’t be an aero problem at North Wilkesboro. .Nothing has changed no matter what track. The leader can’t be passed. He gets to run the fastest line around the track.

RCFX1

Dale Jr. has been pushing this track on everyone. It’s not that great of a track. With the cars and tires, no one can pass. Imagine 36 cars out there.

DoninAjax

43 at Bristol and Martinsville were a LOT worse.

Mr X

Blame NASCAR for their poor product, the track is fine.

Kevin in SoCal

I don’t trust Dale Jr’s opinion, but I do like this track. The tires need to wear more though.

Mr X

Horrible race. NASCAR should be ashamed.

MikeinAZ

I must admit that it was a better race than I thought it would be. I still say they need to go back to Charlotte, run it at Atlanta, Talladega or maybe even one of the road courses would be a better option than N Wilkesboro. I was disappointed when they said they’ll be there again in 2025.

Stenhouse got what he deserved too, when Busch hit/crashed him. He didn’t leave Busch any room with that pass and Kyle paid him back. Stenhouse needs to be suspended for a while too after throwing that punch.

Last edited 1 month ago by MikeinAZ
Jeremy

I’m not a fan (or hater) of either, but if you leave a whole lane in the middle open someone is going to fill it. That’s true whether you’re driving I10 in Houston, or driving in any race (choose a series, it’s the same everywhere). Kyle’s been doing this long enough he should know that.

MikeinAZ

and the driver that fills that hole should realize that he needs to leave the driver on the high side enough room and not force him into the wall because he doesn’t have enough room to maneuverer and keep his car out of trouble. That was on the 2nd lap of the race too, which is ridiculous.

Last edited 1 month ago by MikeinAZ
Jeremy

I’ve watched the replay above between :06 and :14 seconds, and I have yet to see where Stenhouse touched Kyle prior to being forced up by the 34. Actually, through the corner he tracked much closer to the inside cars than he ever was to Kyle.

In the end, it’s a racing deal. Stenhouse gave room until another car pinched him up. Kyle thought he could hold the outside and make it work (and he was close to doing that). Look at the timer, at 10 seconds in everyone is good, 11 seconds Kyle and Ricky are good but the 34 wiggles and starts to move up, 12 seconds Uh Oh, Kyle is getting close to the wall (Stenhouse is well inside nowhere near touching Kyle) but the 34 is close to if not touching the 47and still moving up. By 13 second in they have all bounced off of each other. We’re talking 4 seconds of slo-mo for us fans to look at over and over again to decipher what has happened. These guys didn’t have that luxury and were in the moment likely thinking they could all make it work until the track got too narrow. It happens.

To me, it looks like the 34 got loose. The 11 behind him was able to hold the line much lower through the corner. If the 34 holds the same line the 11 ran I think all 3 would have made it through OK.

MikeinAZ

I watched a video last night that clearly shows Stenhouse’s pass forced Busch up high and eventually ran him out of room and he hit the wall.

Wildcatsfan2016

Thought it was a boring race KyBu wrecking Stenhouse like that was uncalled for. Ridiculous overreaction but then he’s always been a punk

Bill B

All I saw was a short track race that sucked. In both the Open and the AS race there was pretty much one leader. The tires did absolutely nothing. This NExtGen car is a total failure on the tracks one mile or less, with the exception of maybe Phoenix. Come on NASCAR, time to try something more drastic.

DoninAjax

NA$CAR continues to put a pinkie band-aid on a shotgun blast to the stomach. It’s all they want to spend on a cow patty they and the networks tell us is hamburger.

Last edited 1 month ago by DoninAjax
DoninAjax

Nobody complained about the tracks or race distance until 2004.

Steve

Was thinking the same thing. Racing used to be great at tracks like Bristol, NH, Phoenix, and going back further North Wilkes, The Rock. Its not the track, its the abomination they put on the track every week they call a racecar.

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