Kyle Larson turned the newly renovated North Wilkesboro (NC) Speedway into his own personal playground, completing the weekend sweep with a win in Sunday night’s All-Star Race.
Larson, who won Saturday’s Truck race on the historic 0.625-mile short track, repeated his impressive performance in Sunday night’s win at the All-Star Race, which also earned him the $1 million top prize.
Despite an early speeding penalty on pit road, Larson weaved through the entrants on the new tires and at one point built up a 12-second lead before the half break.
He had dropped for most of the second stage and eventually took the checkered flag by 4.537 s over Bubba Wallace to take the win.
“Old school kick ass like you’ve seen here,” Larson said on his team radio after taking the checkered flag.
It was Larson’s third All-Star race win in just nine full seasons in the Cup Series. He was tied for second with Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt.
Larson’s three All-Star wins have come at different tracks: Charlotte, Texas and now North Wilkesboro.
“I can’t even tell you what this means. My third All-Star win on my third different track,” said Larson. “We could feel the stretch all weekend. We had a long period car out there, I’m just thinking there’s definitely going to be a caution, right?
“We drove from last place to the lead and we were out like 12 or 13 seconds. What an awesome car! Whatever my car did wrong on Friday, it did great today.
Larson’s victory in the Trucks Saturday came in the first points-scoring race at the track in any NASCAR national series since 1996, when Jeff Gordon won the last Cup Series race held at the track.
After a multimillion-dollar renovation by Speedway Motorsports, the track reopened this week to host a week of racing that included Late Models, Trucks and Sunday’s All-Star Race.
Tyler Reddick finished third, Chase Briscoe fourth and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.
Rounding out the top 10 were Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ty Gibbs and Joey Logano.
By winning his elimination heat race on Saturday night, Suárez started on the pole for Sunday night’s main event.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was spun by Jones on lap 16, causing the first caution of the race. Several cars at the back of the grid chose to pit for new tyres.
Larson was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the back. Suárez remained on the track and led on the restart with 180 laps to go.
By lap 45, Larson had clawed his way back on new tires despite the penalty and was fighting for the top five. Ten laps later, Larson passed Denny Hamlin and Suárez to take the lead for the first time in the race.
Wallace, who was among those who pitted under the first caution, worked his way into the top five with just 15 laps to go before the mid-break.
NASCAR displayed a planned competition warning on lap 102, just after the half. All lead lap cars made pit road for new tires, with Larson first off pit road.
During the stops, Ross Chastain was penalized for speeding and Logano and Bell were penalized for a runaway tire. They all had to restart from the back of the field. When the race restarted on lap 111, Larson was followed by Wallace, Suárez and Reddick.
With 75 laps to go, Larson had a 1.5-second lead over Wallace as Reddick was third.
Larson continued to expand in the second stage, and he led Wallace by over four seconds with less than 40 laps remaining in the race.
Larson remained in control with 10 laps to go to hold a lead of over four seconds over Wallace. Without the need to go to the pits to refuel, teams did not dare to go green for new tires for fear of losing several laps.
By finishing first and second, respectively, in the 100-lap open race on Sunday, Josh Berry and Gibbs earned entry into the All-Star Main Event. Noah Gragson joined the 24-car field by winning the fan vote.