The All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway is complete. Kyle Larson doesn’t know the future of the exhibition event, but he would like to see it move around to different tracks.
Larson provided the comments after a dominant race in which he led 145 laps and became the first Cup Series driver to win at North Wilkesboro Speedway since 1996. He made it clear that he wants NASCAR to continue racing at the historic short track, but he also talked about how winning at different venues adds to the importance.
“I think it was great as the All-Star Race,” Larson said during his post-race media session. “I think — honestly, I think I kind of want to see the All-Star Race move around. I think that shows who the All-Star is. Yeah, I would be fine either way.
“It doesn’t matter to me. But I do think having the All-Star Race move around, it shows who the best team and driver is and all that. Really, I just want to see us keep coming back here. I think NASCAR has a lot of roots here, so it deserves a spot on our schedule, whether it be a non-points race or a points race, whatever.”
To further this point, Larson voiced support for one potential move. He suggested moving the All-Star Race to Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in 2024 so that he can take part in both Indy 500 qualifying and the Cup Series event.
The All-Star Race Has Moved Around in Recent Years
The All-Star Race has been a part of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule since the 1985 season when it was known as The Winston. 34 of the first 35 took place at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The only exception was the 1986 race that took place at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The 2020 season marked a change for the All-Star Race. NASCAR moved it to Bristol Motor Speedway and had the drivers battle at another historic short track. The race then moved to Texas Motor Speedway in 2021 and 2022 before ultimately heading to North Wilkesboro Speedway.
There are multiple drivers that won multiple All-Star Races in their careers. Jimmie Johnson captured four of these races, all at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt also won three times at the Concord track, which made them perennial favorites based on their experience and past success.
Larson has delivered in different ways during a stretch dating back to 2019. He has won the All-Star Race at three different tracks and with two different teams, which has only made the accomplishments more meaningful.
“I think definitely doing it at three different venues along the way,” Larson said. “I’m very proud of that for sure. For so long the All-Star Race was just at a single racetrack, and I think it’s been cool the last however many years. It’s not switched every year, but it’s gone from Charlotte to Bristol to Texas to here. I don’t know if there was another track.
“I didn’t get the chance to race at Bristol, but to win at Charlotte was awesome. That’s one of my first big wins in a stock car. Then Texas was cool to win at a different track. Now you’re like, man, they keep switching these things up. It would be cool to win at another venue at a historic venue like this. I am extremely proud for sure to have won the All-Star Race, but to win it at three different tracks is really, really neat.”
Comments Were Positive Overall After the Race
The All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway was not an overly competitive event. Larson had the best car, and he used it to move through the field with ease while many other drivers struggled to make passes.
There were some negative comments about the lack of battles on the short track. That is nothing new in the Next Gen era. Drivers and fans alike want to see some changes with the short track package to make the events more competitive.
Though it was clear that the fans and drivers still embraced the atmosphere in Wilkes County. They focused more on the history of the track and the celebration taking place as the track came back to life.
“We left the [tire] test here and the best thing I could relate to was Berlin and running an ARCA race there,” Chris Buescher said after winning his heat race. “We got wide-open two laps in a 200-lap feature – just no grip. That’s what it feels like here. That’s character. It makes you search. It makes you try and think about longevity of tires.
“It makes you think about how you’re gonna approach early runs versus long runs and puts strategy back in the game for our crew chiefs and crew members. It puts so many things back into the race that we used to talk about every week because there’s so much character. There are so many variables with a track like this and I love it.”
“This experience at North Wilkesboro Speedway was so special, I wish we ran better, but I’m just so honored to be part of this team,” rookie Noah Gragson added after competing in both the All-Star Open and the All-Star Race.