Berry and Gibbs secure spots in $1 Million All-Star Race
By John Newby
Monday 22nd May, 2023 - 8:59am
The field is set for the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, which pays $1 million to the winner.
Josh Berry won the All-Star Open and punched his ticket to the All-Star Race. Ty Gibbs joined him by finishing second in the preliminary event.
16 winless drivers headed to North Wilkesboro Speedway on Sunday evening. They all had the goal of reaching the All-Star Race, but only two could achieve this goal on the track.
While Berry and Gibbs put themselves in the big show by their actions on the track, Noah Gragson secured his spot in a different way. He was the winner of the fan vote that leads up to the All-Star Race weekend.
All of these drivers will line up at the rear of the field for the All-Star Race at 20:00 local time/ET. They will have 200 laps to work their way through the field and contend for the $1 million prize.
This battle unfolded over the course of 100 laps. Gibbs and Berry led the field to the green flag and then they immediately battled for the inside line, the preferred lane on the historic short track’s aged surface.
Gibbs quickly jumped to the lead with an aggressive start, and he kept the #54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in fourth gear all the way around the track while leading the first 40 laps before the competition caution.
Berry took a more methodical approach. He shifted into fifth and focused more on reducing wheelspin in the corners than on chasing down Gibbs. This dropped him three seconds behind the #54, but he remained more than one second ahead of Aric Almirola in third.
Berry was able to take the lead off pit road after the #48 team delivered a fast, four-tire stop. Gibbs also had issues leaving the pit stall as the #54 fell off the jack and swerved sideways.
Berry took the inside line at the choose cone before the restart, which put him in a position to quickly jump to the lead and take control of the All-Star Open on a long, green flag run.
However, the race did not go green. Gragson hit the inside wall, rebounded into the field, and collected Todd Gilliland, Ryan Newman, and Chandler Smith. This wreck ended the day for both Gilliland and Smith, but Newman and Gragson were able to continue.
The more significant incident took place on the following restart. Contact from Gibbs sent Michael McDowell into the side of Justin Haley. This sent them both into the wall and led to the #31 exiting the race early.
The #34 team fixed McDowell’s Ford Mustang so that he could get back out on the track to exact some revenge. He was not able to keep Gibbs from making it to the All-Star Race, but he kept Joe Gibbs Racing from celebrating a win.
McDowell rode around the track, two seconds off of the leader’s pace, and he waited until he could hit Gibbs multiple times as the rookie lapped him. This opened up the door for Berry to take the lead once again and race his way to the win.Sign up here to receive our daily newsletters and breaking news alerts, sent straight to your inbox.
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