NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. -- After driving all the way from the back of the field to the front after an early pit road speeding penalty, Kyle Larson pulled away to easily win the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, taking the checkered flag in NASCAR's first race at the legendary Western North Carolina track since 1996. Larson's All-Star win is the third of his career and third in his last four tries.
Larson's third career All-Star win moves him into a tie for the second most All-Star wins in history, tying him with Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993) and Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001). Larson has also become the first driver to ever win the All-Star Race on three different racetracks, as his previous All-Star wins came at Charlotte Motor Speedway (2019) and Texas Motor Speedway (2021).
The tone of Larson's night was set after an early caution for a spin by Ricky Stenhouse Jr., as he was among a select group of drivers who came to pit road to take on fresh tires. A pit road speeding penalty sent Larson to the back of the field, but he quickly emerged as prohibitively faster than the rest of the field. Larson had a half a lap lead over the rest of the field at one point, then cruised to victory over the last 90 laps to lead 145 of 200 laps.
NASCAR All-Star Race unofficial results
- #5 - Kyle Larson
- #23 - Bubba Wallace
- #45 - Tyler Reddick
- #14 - Chase Briscoe
- #9 - Chase Elliott
- #12 - Ryan Blaney
- #99 - Daniel Suarez
- #43 - Erik Jones
- #54 - Ty Gibbs (R)
- #22 - Joey Logano
"That was an old-school ass whipping, for sure," Larson told Fox Sports. "We had a great car on the long run there and was just thinking for sure there was going to be a caution. I got out to a big lead, and I could see everybody's cars were driving like crap in front of me.
"But I cannot thank this No. 5 team enough. We were God awful all weekend. Practice, I was like the worst on 30-lap average, went backwards in a heat race yesterday. We obviously had some strategy work out there in the beginning, but we drove from dead last to the lead and checked out by 12 or 13 seconds. Then I just could pace myself there that last run."
From the outset of the weekend, it was known that tire wear and tire management would be the single most important determining factor in who performed well at North Wilkesboro. The track's surface, last repaved in 1981, quickly chewed up tires and created extreme levels of wear, meaning that drivers had to conserve their tires early in a run to not have their lap times fall off massively late in a run, and also that new tires had a prohibitive advantage over older tires.
All teams had three sets of sticker tires available for the All-Star Race, but the problem for most of the field was that they had little opportunity to use them. With the exception of Stenhouse's early spin, the All-Star Race ran clean and green with only one competition yellow just past halfway interrupting long runs of green flag racing.
That development was to the benefit of the drivers who pitted along with Larson, including both of the 23XI Racing cars. Though he could not match the pace of Larson, Bubba Wallace used fresher tires to drive up to second by the end of the first long green flag run, and he remained there for the rest of the night while Tyler Reddick joined him in third.
"Just his capability throughout the whole run, he could attack hard and then have something there at the end," Wallace told Fox Sports of the difference between his and Larson's cars. "If this was any other race I'd be excited, but for a million dollars to come up short and walk home with nothing … Tail tucked between our legs. But all in all, just continuing to ride the momentum train."
Larson's victory completed a weekend sweep for him, as he also won Saturday's Tyson 250 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race.
Race Results Rundown
- In addition to his third All-Star Race win, Kyle Larson has also become the third driver to ever take Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 to Victory Lane at North Wilkesboro. Geoff Bodine took the No. 5 to Victory Lane in the fall of 1989 after Dale Earnhardt and Ricky Rudd spun racing for the win on the final lap, while Terry Labonte won in that car twice in 1994 and 1996.
- The only other driver to lead the All-Star Race was Daniel Suarez, who paced the opening 55 circuits from the pole before giving way to Larson. Suarez would eventually fall out of the top five, but he was a fixture in the top 10 all race and took home a seventh-place finish.
- Josh Berry prevailed in a spirited All-Star Open earlier in the day, advancing to his first All-Star Race by racing his way in along with Ty Gibbs. Gibbs would go on to have a top-10 finish in ninth, while Berry would fade to 15th by race's end.
- In a special occasion as part of his final season, Kevin Harvick switched from No. 4 back to his original No. 29 in a much-anticipated throwback to his rookie season of 2001. However, the return of Harvick's original number and paint scheme was a disappointing one. The two-time All-Star Race winner was never a factor and finished two laps down in 18th.
- Despite hitting the Turn 1 wall head-on in the Open, Noah Gragson advanced to the All-Star Race by virtue of winning the Fan Vote. Gragson's team thrashed to get his car ready for the main event despite significant front end damage, which proved too much to overcome. Gragson would finish three laps down in 23rd.
The NASCAR Cup Series stays in North Carolina and heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for one of the sport's crown jewel races, the Coca-Cola 600, next Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on Fox.