FOX NASCAR Insider
NORTH WILKESBORO, NC – The place was star-studded Sunday night.
North Wilkesboro Speedway, which last hosted a NASCAR Cup Series event in 1996, was electric for the NASCAR All-Star Race, a $1 million showcase event for win which mainly includes race winners from the previous 15 months and previous champions.
Kyle Larson was the only driver who seemed to have a spark as he led the final 96 laps and 145 of the final 146 circuits in the 200-lap race in front of a sellout crowd of about 30,000.
“The atmosphere was amazing and the race was fast, too,” Larson said. “It was fun. It was fun that my car was so good. It was a great night.”
The Hendrick Motorsports driver’s victory wrapped up as he crossed the finish line ahead of 23XI Racing teammates Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. Chase Briscoe was fourth and Chase Elliott was fifth.
Larson so dominant
The 2021 Cup champion won the All-Star race for the third time in his career, this time with a winning margin of 4.537 seconds.
“It’s cool to dominate like that and do it like you saw people dominating racing in the ’80s and ’90s,” Larson said.
He ran about 15 laps under caution and had to go to the back due to a speeding penalty, but quickly made his way through the field, with a 12-lap lead when a contest was cautioned on lap 100 .
Cruises by Kyle Larson
Check out the final laps of the NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Larson never relinquished the lead, except when he entered under the competition caution.
“When I swiped people, I could go in [to the corner] so fast on the way in,” Larson said.
Wallace said there wasn’t much he could do to catch Larson.
“He just left on that restart [after the competition caution]” Wallace said. “Could I have tried to be more aggressive and get him out of the way? I don’t think it would have mattered.
“I think I would have finished walking back across the field.”
23XI Racing almost there
Wallace and Reddick didn’t have as much as Larson, but to put the 23XI Racing cars second and third had to be considered a solid day.
“We didn’t have all the potential we needed,” Wallace said. “To get out of here second? We’ll take it.”
Reddick said he would have liked to see what he could have done if he hadn’t gotten caught in traffic.
NASCAR All-Star Race Highlights
The return to North Wilkesboro for the NASCAR All-Star Race was a weekend to remember as Kyle Larson dominated to win.
“He was pretty good,” Reddick said. “It would have been interesting to see if the roles were reversed what would have happened if we had been in front and he tried to run us over.
“They were obviously very strong. They did a good job of going down the field being aggressive on him. I should have been a little more aggressive on my part.”
The McDowell-Gibbs mess
In the Open race for drivers who hadn’t earned an automatic bid to the main event, Ty Gibbs got into Michael McDowell, who then got into Justin Haley.
McDowell’s car was damaged and when Ty Gibbs tried to spin him, McDowell pinched Gibbs near the inside wall but did not wreck him. Gibbs finished second and moved on to the main event while McDowell was eliminated.
“I just wasn’t going to wave at him,” McDowell said of the retaliation strategy. “He was going to spin it around the outside and he still wanted to try to go through the bottom, which he was riding himself, and he should have sunk it into the barrels. [of sand by the inside wall] and he called it good.”
Bob Pockrass looks at what should be next for North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Gibbs said McDowell ran into him several weeks ago in Martinsville.
“I 100 percent understand your frustration,” Gibbs said. “I got him out of the way. They shut us down and completely wrecked us for 18th at Martinsville out of nowhere. It’s just a learning experience.”
McDowell said he will finish it next week.
“He overcame it,” McDowell said. “I’ve been through it a hundred times. It’s not Earth-shattering. I’m just sorry it was on the bad end.”
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the last 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrassand register at FOX Sports NASCAR Newscast with Bob Pockrass.
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