To help celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, the sport is going back to its roots at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Deemed as the ‘Field of Dreams of Racing,’ this will be the first time the NASCAR Cup Series has returned to North Wilkesboro Speedway since 1996. It will also be first time, the NASCAR All-Star race and the All-Star Open will take place at 0.625-mile paved oval located just five miles outside North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
This Sunday, May 21, the All-Star Open is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. ET and the main event, the NASCAR All-Star Race, will follow at 8 p.m. ET – both will be broadcast on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio – with over $1 million dollars up for grabs.
The NASCAR All-Star Race was introduced in 1985 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the first All-Star race was won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip and crew chief Jeff Hammond. Waltrip led 27 laps in the 70-lap inaugural All-Star event en route to the win driving the No. 11 Junior Johnson & Associates Buick. It was Waltrip’s only career All-Star win.
This weekend’s NASCAR All-Star Race will be the 39th running of the prized exhibition race and North Wilkesboro is the fifth different track to host the event; joining Charlotte Motor Speedway (34 All-Star races: 1985, 1987-2019), Atlanta Motor Speedway (1986), Bristol Motor Speedway (2020) and Texas Motor Speedway (2021-2022).
The second NASCAR All-Star Race in 1986 was held at Atlanta Motor Speedway and the event was dominated by NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who set the record for the most laps led in a NASCAR All-Star Race by a driver that won the event, leading 82 of the scheduled 83 laps (98.8%).
Elliott started the event in the second starting position. Twice the NASCAR All-Star Race has been led by one driver flag-to-flag and both occurred at Charlotte; Dale Earnhardt led all 70 laps in 1990 and Davey Allison led all 70 laps (100%) in 1991.
The next 33 All-Star events would be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway until the 2020 season due to the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic the race was rescheduled and moved to Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott grabbed his first NASCAR All-Star Race win at Bristol that season. The win made the Elliotts (Bill and Chase) the second father-son duo to win the NASCAR All-Star Race all-time, joining the Earnhardts (Dale and Dale Jr.).
Then in 2021, the special non-points event was moved to Texas Motor Speedway for the first time. And for the second straight season, the NASCAR All-Star Race was won by a Hendrick Motorsports driver – Kyle Larson.
Hendrick Motorsports leads the NASCAR Cup Series in NASCAR All-Star race victories with 10 wins among five drivers – Jimmie Johnson (four: 2003, 2006, 2012, 2013), Jeff Gordon (three: 1995, 1997, 2001), Terry Labonte (1999), Chase Elliott (2020) and Kyle Larson (2021). It also was the second consecutive season the NASCAR All-Star Race winner went on to win the NASCAR Cup Series Championship in the same season.
The feat has occurred 12 times since the inception of the All-Star race in 1985 by seven different drivers – Darrell Waltrip (1985), Dale Earnhardt (1987, 1990, 1993), Rusty Wallace (1989), Jeff Gordon (1995, 1997, 2001), Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013), Chase Elliott (2020) and Kyle Larson (2021).
Last season’s NASCAR All-Star race at Texas Motor Speedway was won by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney. Blaney dominated the event once getting out front leading 84 of the 140 scheduled laps (60%).
It was his first victory in the special non-points event and the fourth for Team Penske – Blaney (2022), Joey Logano (2016), Kurt Busch (2010), Ryan Newman (2002).
In total, the 38 NASCAR All-Star Races have produced 26 different winners, led by the recently retired Jimmie Johnson with four All-Star wins (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013).
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (2007, 2018) and Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson (2019, 2021) lead all active drivers in NASCAR All-Star Race wins with two each. In total, eight former NASCAR All-Star Race winners are entered this weekend