On a warm, pleasant evening in the mountains of North Carolina, 24 NASCAR Cup Series cars started their engines under the bright lights of North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time in 27 years.
Years of grassroots efforts and big-name help from the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Marcus Smith culminated in the 2023 All-Star weekend — which included a Truck Series race and two Cup Series races.(Story continues below)
By far the strongest driver all weekend was Kyle Larson, who won his first Truck Series entry of the 2023 season.
Driving the No. 7 truck of Spire Motorsports, Larson displayed a teachable moment for the many young up-and-comers who had to watch him handle the field at Saturday’s Tyson 250.
But during practice and the heat race for Sunday’s All-Star event, Larson initially had trouble finding speed, qualifying 16th.
Earlier on Sunday, the All-Star Open was held, from which three more drivers — Josh Berry, Ty Gibbs, and Noah Gragson — moved on to the main All-Star Race.
By the time Richard Petty and Darrell Waltrip gave the command Sunday night, the raucous crowd and packed stands signified a special moment for NASCAR.
Larson initially saw his night go backward, being sent to the rear after speeding on pit road early in the race.
But around the 50-lap mark of the 200-lap event, Larson launched to the front and never looked back.
He would not relinquish the lead at any point, securing his third career All-Star race win and the million-dollar prize.
Chase Elliott also had a solid night, finishing fifth on the slippery track.
Elliott and the No. 9 team will pick back up next week for one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races — the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day.