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      NASCAR returns to North Wilkesboro Speedway for All-Star Race

      © 2023 John K Harrelson / NKP

      NASCAR All-Star Race
      North Wilkesboro Speedway
      Sunday, May 21 | 8 p.m. ET

      TAMED: Starting fourth for Sunday’s race at Darlington Raceway, William Byron ran within the top five for the majority of the race. He scored a runner-up result in stage one and finished fourth in stage two. Making adjustments to the handling of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Byron remained in contention throughout the final stage, progressing to the front before ultimately taking the lead on lap 288. With the race going into overtime, Byron was able to hold off his competitors en route to his third win of 2023 – the most wins he’s had in a single Cup season.

      MAKING HISTORY: Byron made history at Darlington with the No. 24, collecting the 100th win for the number at the Cup Series level. The No. 24 currently ranks fifth with 100 wins, behind the No. 3 (101 wins), the No. 2 (102 wins), the No. 43 (200 wins) and the No. 11 (229 wins) on the all-time list. Heading into this weekend’s All-Star Race, the No. 24 has scored the win three times, which is tied for the second-most wins by a car number in the exhibition event (all coming with Jeff Gordon). If Byron were to end up in victory lane this Sunday, the No. 24 would be tied for the most wins in All-Star Race history with the No. 48 entry of Hendrick Motorsports (4).

      LOCKED IT IN: Sunday will mark Byron’s fifth start in the All-Star Race. For the third time in his Cup Series career, the 25-year-old is already locked in due to his wins from this season and last season. In 2019 and 2020, Byron was able to race his way into the main event with stage wins in the All-Star Open qualifier races. Across his four All-Star Race starts, Byron has two top-10 finishes. His best showing came in 2021 when he led the most laps (30), had the lowest cumulative finishing position across the first four rounds and scored his best finish of seventh after being shuffled from the front row for the final 10-lap dash.

      BACK TO HIS ROOTS: On Tuesday, Byron got his first laps in at North Wilkesboro Speedway climbing behind the wheel of the No. 24 Super Late Model for Anthony Campi Racing. Qualifying was canceled and the ASA STARS National Tour race was postponed to Wednesday. Byron rolled off eighth, finished second in both stages, led 41 laps and came home with a runner-up finish.

      TRUCKIN’ IT: Byron will also compete in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race this weekend at North Wilkesboro with Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). While this is the fourth time he has pulled double duty in 2023, this will be Byron’s third truck start of the season. He has finished inside the top four in both of his previous truck starts this season. Running the No. 51 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado this Saturday, Byron is returning to the team where his NASCAR national series career began. In 2016, he won an unprecedented seven race wins en route to collecting rookie of the year honors and narrowly missing the Championship 4 race.

      PIT ROAD PROWESS: The No. 24 pit crew has been strong on pit road with an average four-tire pit stop time of 11.128 seconds – the second-fastest average in the field. On Friday, the No. 24 team will have the chance to show off their skills in the Pit Crew Challenge, which will help set the lineup for Saturday night’s All-Star Heat Races.

      BYRON GIVES HIS THOUGHTS ON NORTH WILKESBORO: “It’s going to be cool for sure. We’re nervous about the weekend and not knowing what to expect. Luckily, I’m running the late model race this week. I’m excited to run that and get back in a Super Late Model again. It should be a lot of fun as well as give me a good idea of what the track is going to be like, and we can go from there. Right now, I’m just telling my guys to set it up how you think is best since we don’t really have any simulation for the track. It’s going to be pretty fun to see who hits the set up and who needs to make changes after practice.”

      NO. 24 CREW CHIEF RUDY FUGLE TALKS PREPARATIONS: “I have as good of an idea on what the starting point is as anyone. We can kind of simulate what our travels should be here and there but otherwise we don’t have any data. There was a tire test earlier with three cars, but the track is going to be way different from then. The track will be more rubbered in this time from racing all week. It’s going to be some form of Richmond and Martinsville mixed – we think – but it’s North Wilkesboro and we don’t know what is going to happen really. We’ll have an hour to figure it out and I’m not sure how well anyone is going to hit the set up right away. Hopefully, by the end of Sunday night, we’re the group that has hit it.”

      © 2023 John K Harrelson / NKP


      CLOSING IN ON 300: William Byron’s victory at Darlington Raceway leaves Hendrick Motorsports just four points-paying victories away from 300 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series. Twenty drivers have combined to reach the organization’s current total of 296 wins, which is the most in the sport by any one team. With five wins this season, Hendrick Motorsports has posted its 36th multi-win season in the Cup Series. The organization has won at least two races in each of the last 30 seasons.

      WELCOME BACK, NORTH WILKESBORO: The NASCAR All-Star Race will mark the first NASCAR event at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 27 years. The .625-mile track hosted 93 Cup Series races from 1949 to 1996 and is the fifth track to host the all-star event. The Rick Hendrick-owned organization swept the final season of points-paying races as part of its four wins at the facility. Jeff Gordon won the last Cup Series race to date there on Sept. 29, 1996. Terry Labonte won the spring races in 1994 and 1996 and Geoff Bodine won the fall race in 1989.

      PRE-RACE DIGNITARIES: Gordon will serve as the honorary pace car driver for the All-Star Race. Ray Evernham, who was Gordon’s crew chief for his 1996 win at North Wilkesboro and three of his Cup Series championships, will wave the green flag as the honorary starter.

      FORMAT FOCUS: On Saturday night (starting at 7:20 p.m. ET on FS1), Byron, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson will take part in one of the two 60-lap heat races to determine the starting lineup for the All-Star Race. The results of the first heat will set the inside row for the All-Star Race, while the results of the second heat will set the outside row. Josh Berry will race in Sunday’s All-Star Open (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1), which is a 100-lap race with a competition break around lap 40, and look to be one of the top-two finishers to transfer into the main event. The All-Star Race on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET on FS1) will be 200 laps with a competition break at or around lap 100. Following the competition break, only one additional set of sticker tires can be used. The winner of the event will take home $1 million.

      TERRIFIC 10: Hendrick Motorsports has won the All-Star Race 10 times, which leads all organizations and is more than double of all the teams tied for second (at four wins). Five drivers have accounted for Hendrick Motorsports’ all-star victories, which is also the most among all teams. Jimmie Johnson leads the way with four wins (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013), which is also the most among all drivers in all-star history. Gordon is next with three wins (1995, 1997 and 2001) and he is also the youngest winner of the event at 23 years, 9 months and 16 days. Labonte (1999), Elliott (2020) and Larson (2021) each have won the event once with the organization. The Johnson, Gordon and Labonte victories all came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while Elliott won at Bristol Motor Speedway and Larson won at Texas Motor Speedway.

      FROM ALL-STAR TO TITLE TOWN: The All-Star Race winner has gone on to win the Cup Series championship 12 times in the sport’s history. Hendrick Motorsports has accomplished that seven times, including in the years of its last three all-star victories. Gordon’s All-Star Race wins all came in title seasons. Johnson’s wins in 2006 and 2013 were during championship years. More recently, Elliott and Larson won this event ahead of their championship coronations.

      STAR-FILLED STREAK: Counting this year’s event, the Rick Hendrick-owned organization has now had at least three cars in the All-Star Race field for 24 consecutive years. That streak is more than double of the next closest team, which sits at 11 straight years.

      TRANSFERRING TO THE BIG SHOW: The organization has had a driver transfer from the All-Star Open into the main event on seven occasions. Gordon (1994), Ricky Craven (1997), Brian Vickers (2005), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2012), Alex Bowman (2018) and Byron (2019 and 2020) have all done this. Gordon, Craven, Vickers and Earnhardt Jr. each won the All-Star Open to advance, while Bowman and Byron won a stage of the Open to move into the All-Star Race.

      Via Hendrick Motorsports