Sunday, May 28

Ford Performance - North Wilkesboro / All-Star Race Advance

NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary season continues this week with a series of events designed to celebrate the sport’s return to North Wilkesboro Speedway. The annual All-Star Race highlights the first Cup race at the historic track since 1996 while the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers will compete there for the third time ever.

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There are seven Ford drivers guaranteed a place in the All-Star field with additional spots available through the preliminary Open qualifying race and fan vote. Currently, all three drivers from Team Penske – Joey Logano, Austin Cindric and Ryan Blaney – are in the race while both Roush Fenway Keselowski drivers are also qualified in Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher.  Stewart-Haas will be represented by Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe.

Joey Logano: “I think the atmosphere is gonna be amazing. That’s the race everyone has been talking about, kind of like the Clash before there was the Clash. What’s it gonna be like right before we went there the first time? Now it’s North Wilkesboro and what’s it gonna be like? Everyone has talked about it. I’m pretty excited to get up there and see what the racing is like. You’ve got a million bucks on the line. It doesn’t matter where you race, it's gonna be intense and exciting, but I think the nostalgia of going back there and that excitement that a lot of fans and competitors have as well has added a piece, for sure.”

Chase Briscoe: “I know I was only two years old the last time they raced there and I know that one straightaway goes uphill and one goes downhill.  I know it’s right off the highway.  I know it has red and white walls and that’s about all I know.  North Wilkesboro has been dead and a lot of people thought it was never coming back, and now to be able to go there it will be cool to be a part of that.  I always enjoy going to races and being at the inaugural one and even though that’s not the first time we’ve ever raced at North Wilkesboro it’s gonna kind of feel like that.  It will be a lot of fun to be a part of that event and hopefully it’ll be incredible and something we keep doing.”

Ryan Blaney: “It should be great. That place is really historic. I ran a late model race there in 2009 or 2010, but I can’t remember much of it. I’m sure it’s gonna get tons and tons of people out there and tons of attention, which it already has been getting as it rightfully should. You bring a track like that, one that has meant a lot to the sport for a long time and it’s kind of been sleeping for a little while and you put a bunch of effort and money behind bringing it back and I think it’s good for the All-Star Race. I look forward to getting there. It’s gonna be really cool and I’m sure it’s gonna be packed. I think it’s good that we’re going back there, so I’m excited for it.”


The first time Ford won the All-Star Race was in 1986 when Bill Elliott drove his Thunderbird to Victory Lane, but that race is remembered for another trivial fact as well. That marked the only time, prior to this year, that the event has been run at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott’s home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway served as host on Mother’s Day that year, a date NASCAR traditionally does not race. With only 10 cars making up the field, Elliott darted to the lead from his outside front row starting position and never gave it up as he led all 83 laps en route to a popular victory with the fans.


Michael Waltrip’s win in 1996 marked his first victory in NASCAR’s top division and was the first in the event for Wood Brothers Racing. Waltrip almost didn’t get into the big show because he had to battle it out in the preliminary Winston Open, where he grabbed the final transfer spot by holding off Johnny Benson to finish fifth. That meant he started last in the 20-car main event, which was called the Winston Select. After the first two 30-lap segments had been completed, Waltrip found himself fourth for the final 10-lap shootout.  He passed Rusty Wallace for third after an aborted restart, and then was riding behind Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte, who were battling side-by-side. As the two entered turn one with eight laps to go, they made contact which slowed them down enough to allow Waltrip to dart to the inside and pass both of them for the lead.  He held on the rest of the way to post his first win of any kind in NASCAR’s top division.


Davey Allison had won the 1991 version of the All-Star Race, but when he and the other competitors came back the following year it was a totally different experience. Why? The 1992 Winston at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the first NASCAR superspeedway race run under the lights. Billed as “One Hot Night” it lived up to that billing as the final 10-lap shootout featured a battle between Dale Earnhardt and Kyle Petty, who were racing for the win on the final lap.  Earnhardt was in the lead coming down the backstretch, but as they entered turn three Petty appeared to tap the familiar No. 3, which sent Earnhardt sliding toward the outside wall. That enabled Allison to get to Petty’s rear bumper coming off turn four and then go to the inside as they entered the tri-oval.  As the two hit the finish line, Petty and Allison made contact sending the No. 28 Texaco Havoline Ford into the outside wall.  Allison ended up winning by half-a-car-length, but didn’t get to experience Victory Lane as he had to be cut out of the car and removed through the roof before being placed on a stretch and airlifted to an area hospital with a concussion and bruised lung.



Carl Edwards took home the $1 million prize for winning the main event in 2011, capturing three of the four segments, while Roush Fenway teammate David Ragan won the preliminary Sprint Showdown. The race came down to a mandatory four-tire pit stop to begin the fourth and final 10-lap dash to the checkered flag. The 99 crew got Edwards out first and he was never threatened over the last 15 miles as he beat Kyle Busch to the finish line. It marked the third time in history Ford swept the Showdown and All-Star Race. The other two occasions came in 1996 with Jimmy Spencer (Showdown) and Michael Waltrip (All-Star), and 1998 with Jeremy Mayfield (Showdown) and Mark Martin (All-Star).  The win was the fourth for car owner Jack Roush, who also won with Matt Kenseth (2004) and Mark Martin (1998 and 2005).



Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski made All-Star history as they became the first teammates to sweep the top two spots in the All-Star Race when they did it in 2016. Logano came out on top of a side-by-side battle with Kyle Larson in the final two laps, getting clear with just over one lap to go after Larson hit the outside wall coming off turn two.  That enabled Keselowski to get the runner-up spot and successfully commemorate the 50th Anniversary of car owner Roger Penske’s career in motorsports.  It marked Ford’s 11th All-Star Race win and first in five years since Edwards won in 2011.



Kevin Harvick used a push from Ford teammate Joey Logano down the stretch to win the 2018 All-Star Race, a race that featured a new aerodynamic package that utilized restrictor plates for the first time on a 1.5-mile track.  In addition, a larger spoiler designed to keep the cars packed together and create passing through the night was used and resulted in 38 lead changes. Harvick was the dominant driver as he won Stage 1 and Stage 3 before leading all 10 laps of the final segment.  Daniel Suarez finished second with Logano third.


There have been only two all-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races at North Wilkesboro and both of them were won by Ford F-150’s. Mike Bliss won the inaugural event in 1995 when he led Ford to a sweep of the top three positions. Bliss started 13th and didn’t take the lead until passing Jack Sprague on lap 130 of the 150-lap event. He led the final 21 circuits to post the first of his 13 career series victories while Butch Miller finished second and Geoffrey Bodine third. Mark Martin followed that up in 1996 by leading the final 73 laps to post his first win in the series. That completed the NASCAR series trifecta of winning at least one race in the sport’s top three divisions for Martin, and completed an event that saw Ford have four of the top five finishers.

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