Kyle Larson had a great weekend in NASCAR’s return to its racing roots.
Larson decimated the competition Sunday night to win the All-Star Race as the Cup Series returned to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time since 1996 in North Wilkesboro, N.C.
Driving the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro, Larson pulled away to lead two lengthy stretches and breezed to victory in the 200-lap race.
In joining Dale Earnhardt and Jeff Gordon as three-time winners of the non-points race — the second-most, behind Jimmie Johnson’s four — Larson easily outdistanced runner-up Bubba Wallace by 4.537 seconds.
The victory marked a NASCAR-best 11th for Hendrick Motorsports in the All-Star Race.
“This is my third All-Star win at my third different track and a historical place like this,” said Larson, who won Saturday’s truck race and the $1 million prize Sunday. “That was (a dominant victory) for sure. We had a great car on the long run there.
“We were godawful all weekend. In practice, I was the worst. … We drove from dead last to the lead. Everything that my car did bad on Friday and Saturday it did great today.”
Rounding out the top five were Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott in the short-track race that had just two cautions and two leaders.
The Cup Series last raced at the historic venue on Sept. 29, 1996, when Gordon beat Earnhardt by nearly two seconds.
But the track’s two dates were moved to speedways in Texas and New Hampshire, ending a 47-year run of NASCAR-sanctioned races at the .625-mile oval.
Earlier, Josh Berry won the 100-lap All-Star Open in his first race at NWS and advanced to the main event with runner-up Ty Gibbs and fan vote winner Noah Gragson.
Polesitter Daniel Suarez paced the 24-car field to the green flag at NWS and slipped away with Joey Logano’s No. 22 Ford close behind.
On Lap 15 off Turn 4, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. spun after contact with the No. 43 Chevrolet driven by Erik Jones for the first caution.
But it was Larson, who started his Chevy in 16th, that charged through the field and hooked the bottom of the track to take the point on Lap 55.
A two-time winner through the season’s first 13 races, Larson quickly checked out from his fellow drivers.
The 2021 Cup champion used his fresher tires to stretch his advantage to over 11 seconds ahead of Suarez by Lap 90 and leave just 16 drivers on the lead lap.
Following a competition caution at halfway, Larson was first off pit road and zipped away for good with 90 circuits to go.
–Field Level Media
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