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North Wilkesboro 101: All-Star format, trends to watch, tire info

A race track, restored.

Want to feel old? The last time the NASCAR Cup Series raced at North Wilkesboro Speedway, seven active full-time drivers in NASCAR’s top flight weren’t yet born, including three-time 2023 winner William Byron.

Before the festivities begin for Sunday’s All-Star Race (8 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), let’s take a gander at the format for the signature event along with trends to watch, tire info and interactive ways to follow all the action this weekend.

RELATED: See paint schemes for race weekend | Favorites for All-Star Race


A handful of events will lead into Sunday’s primetime main event.

On Friday, the Pit Crew Challenge will be held to set the starting lineups for the two heat races and the All-Star Open. The goal is simple: the quicker the stop, the higher up the driver’s starting position will be for the heat races or the Open. The 21 teams already locked into Sunday’s main event will compete in Saturday’s heat races while the rest of the field will look to make the All-Star Race through Sunday’s Open. 

To add extra incentive for teams, the race team with the fastest pit stop Friday will collect a $100,000 bonus.

The two heat races on Saturday will set the starting lineup of the 21 cars already locked into the All-Star Race. They will each consist of 60 laps with Heat No. 1 setting the inside row and Heat No. 2 setting the outside row.

An action-packed Sunday kicks off with the 100-lap All-Star Open where the 16 teams not locked into the main event will compete for two transfer spots that will go to the two highest finishers in the race. A third transfer spot will go to the Fan Vote for a driver that didn’t already lock in through the race.

Finally, the 200-lap All-Star Race will highlight the triumphant return to the historic North Carolina short track. Twenty-four drivers will vie for bragging rights and the $1 million payday. There will be one “All-Star Caution” at or around Lap 100. After that point, only one more set of new “sticker” tires can be used to the checkered flag.

MORE: See full breakdown of All-Star Race format | Vote your favorite driver into the All-Star Race


— The winner of the All-Star Race has won the title twice in the last three years (Chase Elliott 2020, Kyle Larson 2021).

— Kevin Harvick is making his 23rd consecutive All-Star Race appearance (the record is 24 by Mark Martin).

— Kyle Larson has won both non-dirt short-track races so far in 2023 (Richmond, Martinsville).

— Brad Keselowski has finished runner-up three times in the All-Star Race but has never won the event.

(via Racing Insights)


1987: Dale Earnhardt’s ‘pass in the grass’ on Bill Elliott | WATCH

1992: ‘One Hot Night’: Davey Allison wins first All-Star Race under the lights in dramatic fashion | WATCH

2000: Dale Jr. becomes first rookie to win All-Star Race | WATCH

2019: Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer brawl on pit road after All-Star Race | WATCH


The GEICO Restart Zone returned to its 2022 dimensions after being extended for this season’s first five races.

Goodyear brings the tire setup from Phoenix and Richmond earlier this season to the All-Star Race. Teams will have two sets for practice. There will be two sets distributed for the heat races and the All-Star Open. Four sets of tires will be allocated to each team for the 200-lap All-Star Race.

In the event of a lost wheel that is contained to pit road, the offending team will be subject to a pass-through penalty under green-flag conditions. If the infraction occurs during a caution period, the offending team will restart at the tail end of the field.

If the wheel breaks free outside of pit road, the new rules guidelines mandate a two-lap penalty plus a two-race suspension for two crew members. Each penalty is series-specific: Violations in one series will not impact those crew members‘ eligibility to participate in other series.

NOTE: Following Darlington, the No. 43 team will lose crew members Nate McBride and Adam Riley for the next two regular-season Cup Series events after the Legacy Motor Club Chevrolet driven by Erik Jones lost a wheel on track last Sunday.

RELATED: See rules changes for 2023


Friday, May 19

— 4 p.m. ET: Practice (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

— 5:30 p.m. ET: All-Star Pit Crew Challenge (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM)

Saturday, May 20

— 7:20 p.m. ET: Heat race No. 1 (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM)

— 8:15 p.m. ET: Heat race No. 2 (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM)

Sunday, May 21

— 5:30 p.m. ET: All-Star Open (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM)

— 8 p.m. ET: All-Star Race (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM)

MORE: Full weekend schedule at North Wilkesboro


Fans can get in on the action all season long with NASCAR Fan Rewards, a free program that rewards fans for participating in the action when they watch races and play NASCAR Fantasy.

There‘s no cost to join. Fans must be 18 years or older to participate in the program.

Earn points by checking into a race from home or at the track, setting your Fantasy Live lineup, making purchases on the NASCAR.com shop and more. Points can be redeemed for race tickets, merchandise and VIP experiences at the track, including pace car rides and waving the green flag at qualifying.



NASCAR Mobile has now added support for fans to “Follow the Race” and access live leaderboard and race information from Live Activities in the current app release (v13.2.0), available now. Android users, we didn‘t forget you — the same functionality has been custom-built for Android devices, as well.

How to access Live Activities on iPhones:

  1. Make sure your iOS device has been updated to 16.1 or higher.
  2. Available on the leaderboard of all NASCAR Series races.
  3. Click on the three-dot menu near the top right of screen.
  4. Select “Follow the Race.”
  5. Swipe up to access the home screen and you will see the Live Activities at the top.
  6. Lock the device and you will see Live Activities on the Lock Screen.
  7. To turn off, simply visit the leaderboard, click the three-dot menu and “Unfollow the Race.”


Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week, in-car cameras will be available.

NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement to the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.