Throwback Weekend is over, and the NASCAR Cup Series is ready for a date with a historical short track. The drivers will take on the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which only exemplifies the best month in stock car racing.
The month of May is jam-packed with standout events, difficult tracks, and opportunities for the drivers to showcase what is best about the Next Gen era. The car is the most entertaining when controlled in hot conditions and on tracks with a lot of tire fall-off. This will be the case at North Wilkesboro Speedway as thousands of fans help create a festive atmosphere.
The All-Star Race on May 21 (8 p.m. ET, FS1) will take place at a short track, so there could be concerns about passing opportunities. However, the aged surface is ready to deliver tire wear, which will only force drivers to further play the strategy game.
“We’ve got the All-Star Race coming up this weekend. I’m ultra-pumped about that, for sure,” Denny Hamlin said during the May 15 episode of his podcast. “It’s a short track, I love those. It’s a tire wear race track, I love those.
“I said in the media this weekend that I think it’s going to be like ‘Mario Kart,’ trying to hit the gold tokens, and the gold tokens are the new parts of the pavement. I think we’re going to be swerving all over the race track to get these grippy spots to make our car go because that track has such little grip.”
If the event unfolds with limited cautions, there is a scenario where there is a long, green-flag run in which the drivers have to strike a balance between pushing for positions and saving their tires for the end. These long runs with comers and goers are when NASCAR truly delivers.
Racing Fans Have a Packed Week Ahead of Them
While the All-Star Race serves as the standout event on the schedule, it only serves as the main event in a packed schedule. There will be events throughout the week, which will feature stacked lineups.
For example, the early portions of the week feature the ASA Stars National Tour ECMD 150 on May 16 and the May 17 Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour doubleheader – the Crossroads Harley-Davidson 75 and the Window World 125.
There will be 55 entries battling for spots on the starting grid for the ASA Stars National Tour race. This list includes Chase Elliott, William Byron, Noah Gragson, Erik Jones, Daniel Suarez, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger, Ty Majeski, Johnny Sauter, Sammy Smith, and Chandler Smith.
The Window World 125 will see the return of the No. 3 Sun Drop Chevrolet as Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes part in a high-profile Late Model event. He will face off with standout regulars, as well as NASCAR peers in Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Ross Chastain, Suarez, Chase Briscoe, and Harrison Burton.
The Harley-Davidson 75 will have some guest stars with Hocevar, Corey Heim, and Garrett Smithley. The race also marks the stock car oval debut of IMSA champ Jordan Taylor, AKA Rodney Sandstorm.
Saturday, May 20, will feature the Craftsman Truck Series race. The regular, full-time drivers will battle for spots in the playoffs while the guest stars from the Cup Series will try to gain some crucial experience at the short track. This event will air on FOX.
The events leading up to the weekend will air exclusively on FloSports, which requires a subscription. There are three price tiers – FloPro Annual ($179.99), FloRacing Annual ($159.00), and FloRacing Monthly ($39.99).
All tiers include live and on-demand content, access to the library of FloSports originals, and the ability to watch on the web or on the app. Only the FloPro Annual plan includes unlimited content across the FloSports brand, which is more than 25 sports.
Each Track in May Can Deliver Standout Events
The May schedule provides ample opportunities with points-paying events at Dover Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Darlington Raceway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway. Smack dab in the middle is an exhibition event at North Wilkesboro Speedway where NASCAR will continue to celebrate racing history.
Dover and Kansas already did their job. The Cup Series race at Kansas, in particular, sparked comments about how it was the best event of the year so far. Darlington didn’t fully match Kansas, but it was an exciting event with a large number of storylines. There was Ross Chastain (again), William Byron getting win number 100 for the No. 24 car, Carl Edwards in the booth, and lots of tire wear.
The All-Star Race is next, followed by the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The Memorial Day weekend event has extra meaning as NASCAR honors military members that gave their lives while serving their country. It is also the most grueling due to the heat and the length.
The Coca-Cola 600 has been hit-or-miss in the past in terms of excitement, but the 2022 event did not disappoint. The drivers used the Next Gen car to put on a show that featured more than 10 leaders and wild battles in overtime.
The number of lead changes, in particular, highlighted the difference between generations. There have been multiple Coca-Cola 600s in the past when one driver just dominated the entire event. This was not the case in 2022 as several were in contention until the final lap.
The fans voiced their excitement on social media after watching the Coca-Cola 600. They also showed their support in Jeff Gluck’s Good Race Poll. The end result was that 90.6 percent of fans said it was a standout event.
No one knows if this strong run will continue with the 2023 Coca-Cola 600, but the expectation is that it will deliver some excitement while capping off a standout month on the NASCAR schedule.
April Showers Enhanced the May Schedule
Rainfall is almost always a bad thing in NASCAR. It leads to delays and possible postponements on the majority of tracks. It can also lead to low visibility and massive wrecks on road courses.
The end of April had an issue due to rain. The race at Dover Motor Speedway was supposed to take place on Sunday, April 30, but this did not work out due to rain in the area and the lack of lights at the Monster Mile.
Let’s look at the bright side of the rain – it pushed one of NASCAR’s best tracks to May 1. The month began with a tire wear battle at a difficult track, which Martin Truex Jr. used to snap his 54-race winless streak.
The race at Dover Motor Speedway was not the most exciting in track history, but it still delivered in terms of entertainment and storylines. It also added to the May lineup while solidifying the month’s spot as the best in stock car racing.