Joey Logano and Ford Performance Dominate NASCAR All-Star Race

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North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro, NC — May 19, 2024

The story all weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway has been the weather. Rains Friday wiped out All-Star qualifying. Joey Logano won the pole position on Saturday, and Christopher Bell’s team won the Pit Stop Challenge. Kevin Harvick qualified Kyle Larson’s car. Larson was in Indianapolis trying to qualify for the Indy 500 next weekend. His attempt at doing the Indy-Charlotte double was also plagued by rain this week in Indiana.

The Craftsman Truck Series race completed the first Stage Saturday evening and was halted at that point as torrential rains flooded the Speedway. Four inches of rain fell in two hours, soaking everything.

A unique characteristic of the track is that the front stretch travels downhill into turn one. Out of turn two, the cars race uphill into the third and fourth turns. It seems that when they were building the place, money ran short. There were not enough funds left to bring in the necessary fill dirt to level the track. So they just went with what they had and accepted the less-than-level racing surface.

Saturday night, turn one was a swimming pool. Crew members waded in to pull trucks parked there out of the pond and rescue tires that were floating away. Then they proceeded to backstroke and do belly flops to the delight of the die-hards in the grandstands.

The trucks returned Sunday morning and completed their race. Corey Heim drove to a runaway victory in the Wright Brand 250.

The All-Star Open

Drivers who did not qualify for the All-Star race had a chance to win their way into the show by finishing first or second in the All-Star Open. Ty Gibbs(54) and Bubba Wallace(23) dominated the first half of the 100-lap event.

At the 50-lap mark, NASCAR waved a caution to allow teams to pit under the yellow flag. Gibbs was out first. However, Alex Bowman(48) exited the pits ahead of Wallace and took over the second spot.

On the restart, Gibbs, clearly the fastest car in the field, pulled away immediately. Austin Cindric(2) spun on the second green flag lap, and the caution was displayed again.

Back to racing, again Gibbs separated himself from the pack while Wallace and Bowman raced side-by-side for the final entry position. Josh Berry(4) closed on the two-car battle and went three-wide in an effort to take the second spot. The move allowed Wallace to pull away and Berry to take the third spot.

Justin Haley(51) passed Bowman and set his sights on the three leaders. Gibbs won the race going away. He led all 100 Laps. Wallace held onto the second spot, and the duo advanced to the All-Star Race.

Ty Gibbs wins the All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

One more starting position was offered to the winner of the fan vote for the most popular non-qualified driver. Noah Gragson(10) earned the honor and brought the field to 20 entrants.

At 7:15 pm, Kyle Larson’s helicopter landed just outside of turn three. After qualifying fifth for next Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, he will be in his car(5) tonight to defend his All-Star victory from last year at North Wilkesboro. He starts in the 12th position for tonight’s race.

Kyle Larson lands at North Wilkesboro Speedway / Lasco Press Photo

The prize to the winner? A cool $1 million dollar check and bragging rights for a year. The race is 200 laps with a pit stop break at the 100-lap and 150-lap marks.

The 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race

Joey Logano(22) pulled out to a lead into turn one, with the rest of the field racing side-by-side back through the pack. Kyle Busch tried to make a pass on the outside of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.(47) going three-wide and got pinched up into the wall. Minor damage to Busch’s car, and they kept racing.

In an act that could only be described as payback, Busch reached the bumper of Stenhouse’s car and, with a couple of taps, spun Ricky out of turn two. Ending the night early for the #47 car.

On the restart, things settled out quickly. The top five of Logano, Tyler Reddick(45), Chris Buescher(17), Ryan Blaney(12), and Brad Keselowski(6) dropped into a single file line. The remaining 14 cars still shuffled for positions.

At the 25-lap mark, Ty Gibbs had worked his way up to 13th after starting at the back of the pack, coming out of the All-Star Open. Out front, Logano still led, with Buescher and Blaney having passed Reddick.

Ten laps later, Keselowski made it a four-car train of Ford Mustang Dark Horse drivers as he passed Reddick for the fourth position. Logano began putting cars a lap down 65 laps into the event. AJ Allmendinger(16) was the first to lose a lap to the field.

William Byron had a mechanical problem on the right rear of his car and spent 11 laps in the pits getting the issue repaired.

Logano lapped Noah Gragson(10) and Michael McDowell(34) and pulled up next to Bubba Wallace(23), who refused to yield to the leader. Wallace managed to hold Logano off until the midpoint break at 100 laps.

Joey Logano at North Wilkesboro / Lasco Press Photo

Logano and Buescher were first off the pit road. Christopher Bell(20) showed why his team won the Pit Stop Challenge as they picked up important track position, coming out in third.

On the restart, Bell and Logano beat on each other for several laps, allowing Denny Hamlin(11) to come up and make it a three-wide battle for the lead. Logano held off the challenge just as Kyle Busch was involved again in a three-wide racing incident that ended with Ty Gibbs spinning out in turn one.

On the restart, Logano pulled away, leaving Hamlin and Blaney to go at each other for the second spot. Bell and Buescher rounded out the top five, with Kyle Larson(5) lurking in the sixth position.

The fight for second place allowed Logano to pull out to a slight advantage with his teammate Blaney finally relegating Hamlin to the third spot.

Half of the field stayed out at the 150-lap break, but the leaders refused to give up track position.

Logano again jumped out on the restart, followed by Hamlin, who made quick work of Blaney for second. Kyle Larson came out of a three-wide joust for third as Buescher and Blaney followed. Bubba Wallace had moved up to sixth with a strong second-half run.

Hamlin never got close enough to Logano over the final 50 laps to put a move on the Ford Mustang Dark Horse. Logano led all but one lap. That one was by virtue of his pit position when they stopped under caution.

Ricky Stenhouse confronted Kyle Busch at the conclusion of the race, and minor fisticuffs broke out.

 

Results of the 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 22 Joey Logano 200
2 11 Denny Hamlin 0.636 200
3 17 Chris Buescher 4.893 200
4 5 Kyle Larson 5.312 200
5 12 Ryan Blaney 5.451 200
6 23 Bubba Wallace 7.453 200
7 1 Ross Chastain 9.222 200
8 9 Chase Elliott 10.218 200
9 34 Michael McDowell 10.666 200
10 8 Kyle Busch 11.310 200
11 10 Noah Gragson 13.369 200
12 19 Martin Truex Jr. 14.236 200
13 54 Ty Gibbs 14.577 200
14 45 Tyler Reddick 14.719 200
15 99 Daniel Suarez 15.448 200
16 6 Brad Keselowski 15.791 200
17 20 Christopher Bell 16.648 200
18 16 AJ Allmendinger -2 198
19 24 William Byron -14 186
20 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -198 2