Larson caps off perfect weekend with All-Star Race win

Kyle Larson. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kyle Larson. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Kyle Larson has added another achievement to his NASCAR legacy, winning the $1 million All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

In a perfect weekend, the 2021 Cup Series champion turned in a dominant two-day stretch at the historic short track. On Saturday, he led 138 laps and won the Craftsman Truck Series race while driving for Spire Motorsports

One day later, Larson used fresh tyres, a fast #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro, and a flawless performance to capture his second race win of the weekend.

He led 145 laps in the process while winning his third All-Star Race since 2019, and he celebrated by doing a burnout around the entire track. 

“That was old-school ass whipping for sure,” Larson said.

“We had a great car on the long run there and was just thinking for sure there was going to be a caution.

“I got out to a big lead and I could see everybody’s cars were driving like crap in front of me, but I cannot thank this #5 team enough. 

“We were God-awful all weekend. Practice, I was like the worst on 30-lap average, went backwards in a heat race yesterday.

“You obviously had some strategy work out there in the beginning, but we drove from dead last to the lead and checked out by 12 or 13 seconds. Then just could pace myself there that last run.”

The All-Star Race has featured an ever-changing format in recent seasons, but this was not the case for the return to North Wilkesboro Speedway.

NASCAR embraced the historic atmosphere and just focused solely on racing and tyre wear. 

The exhibition event had 200 laps with one stage break after the first 100.

Teams had four sets of sticker tyres at their disposal, but they could only change them once after the mid-race break. This put extra emphasis on choosing the right time to pit. 

Larson used a tyre strategy at a critical point in the race. The caution flew on Lap 17 after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun off the nose of Erik Jones. The majority of the field remained out on the track, but Larson headed down pit road with Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick. 

These tyres made the difference.

All three drivers were able to work their way through the field with fresh rubber on their stock cars. Larson, in particular, started from the rear after a speeding penalty on pit road. 

The penalty did not hold Larson back as he was able to go from the rear of the 24-car field to the front of the pack in only 34 laps. He then used his fresh tyres to build up a lead of more than 12 seconds by the end of the first 100 laps.

Wallace worked his way to second place with his own tyre strategy while Reddick put himself in a position for a third-place finish. 

Once the race restarted, Larson jumped back to the front of the pack ahead of Wallace. He built up a lead of 3.5s, and he ran the rest of the race unchallenged.

There were no cautions, so Larson did not have to contend with any potential chaos on late restarts as other drivers tried to win the USD$1 million. 

With Larson crossing the finish line first, he was able to make NASCAR history. He became the first driver to win an All-Star Race at three different tracks. 

Larson’s first was at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2019 as he drove for Chip Ganassi Racing. His second was with Hendrick Motorsports at Texas Motor Speedway during his championship season in 2021. 

NASCAR returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway next on May 28 18:00 local time/May 29 08:00 AEST.

Pos Car Driver Team Laps
1 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 200
2 23 Bubba Wallace Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota 200
3 45 Tyler Reddick The Beast Unleashed Toyota 200
4 14 Chase Briscoe Ford 200
5 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 200
6 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Wrangler Ford 200
7 99 Daniel Suarez Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet 200
8 43 Erik Jones STP Chevrolet 200
9 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota 200
10 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 200
11 1 Ross Chastain Worldwide Express Chevrolet 200
12 20 Christopher Bell Interstate Batteries Toyota 200
13 11 Denny Hamlin Yahoo! Toyota 199
14 19 Martin Truex Jnr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 199
15 48 Josh Berry Ally Chevrolet 199
16 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford 199
17 3 Austin Dillon BREZTRI Chevrolet 199
18 29 Kevin Harvick Busch Light Ford 198
19 6 Brad Keselowski Nexlizet Ford 198
20 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 198
21 2 Austin Cindric Keystone Light Ford 198
22 8 Kyle Busch Thorntons Chevrolet 198
23 42 Noah Gragson Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet 197
24 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jnr. Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevrolet 196

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