NORTH WILKESBORO, NC — Kyle Larson put on a dominant performance on Sunday night’s return of the Cup Series at North Wilkesboro Speedway after a 27-year absence to win his third All-Star race and earn $1 million.
Larson became only the fourth driver to win the All-Star race at least three times. Jimmie Johnson has the most wins with four, while Larson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt have three.
Larson is the first to win the All-Star race at three different tracks, having also won in Charlotte in 2019 and Texas in 2021.
He celebrated with a full burnout lap of the 0.625 mile track as Hendrick Motorsports won its 11th All-Star race.
Bubba Wallace was second in the 200-lap non-points race, followed by Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott.
But only Larson collected prize money in the Winner Take All event.
Larson overcame an early speeding penalty on lap 24 and ran away from the field.
After being sent to the back of the field on lap 24, he drove his #5 Chevrolet past 16 fresh tire cars, including polesitter Daniel Suarez on lap 56, to take the lead. Larson built up an 11 second lead before receiving his first caution on lap 100.
The caution of the competition did not slow down Larson, who was never seriously challenged in the second half of the race.
When fans came to see wrecks, they left disappointed.
There was none.
And the only pass they saw to put them ahead was Larson going past Suarez.
North Wilkesboro Speedway’s patched asphalt track held up fairly well after a week of racing, despite not having been paved in more than three decades.
The track, mostly idle and overgrown with weeds, was restored for NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary season with the help of Speedway Motorsports CEO Marcus Smith and Hall of Fame driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Suarez and Chris Buescher started on the front row for the All-Star race after winning their 60-lap heats on Saturday night as NASCAR experimented with wet tires on Cup Series cars for the first time.
Suarez dominated early and led the first 55 laps of the race, while Buescher quickly slipped off the pace early on and dropped to 10th after just five laps from being stuck on the outside.
Kevin Harvick, who will retire after the season, drove the retro No. 29 car with the white livery one last time.
It’s the same car that the two-time All-Star winner began his career in after taking Dale Earnhardt’s place at Richard Childress following Earnhardt’s death at the 2001 Daytona 500.
Harvick normally drives the number 4 for Stewart-Haas Racing, but SHR has negotiated a deal with RCR allowing him to drive the number 29 car.
Earlier in the day, Josh Berry won the All-Star Open and advanced to the All-Star race along with runner-up Ty Gibbs and fan-voted winner Noah Gragson. Berry took the lead with 23 laps to go when he passed Gibbs on the apron on the inside of the track.
“It’s pretty cool, very special to be here,” Gibbs said. “I wasn’t alive when they drove here, but it’s really cool. It’s a worn circuit, but it’s fun. I’m just looking for patches, looking for grip.”
Two crashes occurred in the Open race, including one involving Michael McDowell and Justin Haley, both of whom were in the top five at the time, before Gibbs faced McDowell.