Monday, June 24, 2024

Kyle Larson wins first NASCAR North Wilkesboro race since 1996

In 2013, Kyle Larson won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Rockingham Speedway in a short-lived revival of the track after a decade-long dormancy. On Saturday, he won the Truck race at North Wilkesboro Speedway in what NASCAR fans hope will be a longer stint back on the schedule.

Racing the #7 for Spire Motorsports in relief of his injured Cup Series team-mate Alex Bowman, Larson led 138 of 252 laps to notch his third career Truck victory. While a dominant outing, matters got dicey at the end as Chase Purdy and Christian Eckes‘ tangle with five laps remaining set up overtime, during which he had to hold off Ty Majeski and fellow Cup driver Bubba Wallace.

The victory is the second for Spire at the Truck level after William Byron, also a Cup colleague of Larson, won at another short track in Martinsville last year. Larson also recorded his third career Truck victory and first since Eldora in 2016, though he had only raced in the series three more times after that.

“It was a really fun track there, especially in the truck where you can use the apron and such at both ends,” Larson stated. “I had a good time. That was a lot of fun on the long runs.

“I wasn’t supposed to run. Unfortunately, Alex got hurt, and I got the opportunity to run this.”

Wallace and Larson traded the lead throughout the final stage before Larson cleared him on lap 238. The two, along with Byron (finished eleventh) and Christopher Bell (sixteenth), were Cup drivers using the Trucks to prepare for the NASCAR All-Star Race on Sunday.

“For me, racing on something different, a place that is worn out and allows tyre fall off, I thought that was really, really fun,” Wallace commented. “We needed it to go green from start to finish because we were really good on that long run in the second stage. We went from fourteenth to fourth. The way the cautions fell, which is not going to change up your mindset, but none of us know how hard is too hard when there are thirty laps left. When we have seventh laps left, we have a good gauge on how hard I can push.

“It’s just frustrating. Last weekend, we could have won the race. This weekend, it would have been fun to battle more with Larson, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

As is second nature to the Trucks in recent times, ten cautions for wrecks took place. While most were for spins after two trucks collided, the largest on lap 202 saw Tyler Ankrum get shoved into the wall while racing in a pack before a stack-up occurred with Rajah Caruth, Ben Rhodes, and Zane Smith.

The race was the first at North Wilkesboro since NASCAR departed the track at the end of 1996. Both Truck Series races there in 1995 and 1996 were won by Fords, making the Chevrolet of Larson the first non-Blue Oval Truck victor.

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 8 7 Kyle Larson* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
2 3 98 Ty Majeski ThorSport Racing Ford 252 Running
3 15 25 Matt DiBenedetto Rackley WAR Chevrolet 252 Running
4 2 42 Carson Hocevar Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
5 14 1 Bubba Wallace* TRICON Garage Toyota 252 Running
6 1 11 Corey Heim TRICON Garage Toyota 252 Running
7 18 88 Matt Crafton ThorSport Racing Ford 252 Running
8 24 4 Chase Purdy Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
9 12 41 Ross Chastain* Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
10 7 23 Grant Enfinger GMS Racing Chevrolet 252 Running
11 4 51 William Byron* Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
12 32 30 Chris Hacker On Point Motorsports Toyota 252 Running
13 33 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota 252 Running
14 16 43 Daniel Dye # GMS Racing Chevrolet 252 Running
15 6 32 Bret Holmes # Bret Holmes Racing Chevrolet 252 Running
16 9 61 Christopher Bell* Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 252 Running
17 11 20 Kaden Honeycutt Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
18 31 15 Tanner Gray TRICON Garage Toyota 252 Running
19 22 45 Lawless Alan Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
20 10 13 Hailie Deegan ThorSport Racing Ford 252 Running
21 27 17 Taylor Gray # TRICON Garage Toyota 252 Running
22 34 02 Kris Wright Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
23 21 35 Jake Garcia # McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 252 Running
24 5 9 Colby Howard CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet 252 Running
25 13 19 Christian Eckes McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 252 Running
26 17 16 Tyler Ankrum Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 250 Running
27 35 12 Spencer Boyd Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 250 Running
28 28 22 Josh Williams* AM Racing Ford 221 Water Pump
29 30 66 Conner Jones ThorSport Racing Ford 219 Electrical
30 20 2 Nick Sanchez # Rev Racing Chevrolet 213 Running
31 26 56 Timmy Hill Hill Motorsports Toyota 211 Running
32 36 38 Zane Smith Front Row Motorsports Ford 204 Accident
33 19 99 Ben Rhodes ThorSport Racing Toyota 202 Accident
34 23 24 Rajah Caruth # GMS Racing Chevrolet 200 Accident
35 25 5 Dean Thompson TRICON Garage Toyota 182 Accident
36 29 04 Johnny Sauter Roper Racing Ford 153 Electrical
DNQ 75 Parker Kligerman Henderson Motorsports Chevrolet
DNQ 33 Josh Reaume Reaume Brothers Racing Ford
DNQ 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet
Wth 46 Akinori Ogata G2G Racing Toyota
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points