ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1
What do you think about going to North Wilkesboro this weekend?
“I've only ever driven by North Wilkesboro and known it as a closed racetrack. There has been a lot of hype over this race weekend and obviously Marcus Smith and a lot of others have put a lot of effort into making it happen. It will be fun to go up there and check it all out. I'm going to get my feet wet with the late model race and hopefully get more comfortable with the track, and then the truck race on Saturday afternoon before going for the million dollars on Sunday night.”
Everyone has a different perspective of North Wilkesboro, what do you remember about it?
“It's neat to hear the different perspectives everyone has on North Wilkesboro. You hear a lot people talk about going there back when the Cup Series still ran there. And then you have guys like me who were little kids when the series stopped racing there and a fair amount of people who weren't born yet. I hope everything goes smoothly with all of the different events and that the fans pack the stands and we can have a little fun this weekend."
AUSTIN DILLON, NO. 3 BREZTRI CAMARO ZL1
A lot of drivers have North Wilkesboro Speedway circled as one of the most exciting races on the schedule this season. What are your thoughts about racing there?
“I’m excited to race in the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.. It’s such a huge event for our sport. I remember as a kid my dad won a Late Model race there and we got to take the elevator ride up to victory lane. Hopefully, we can do it for $1 million. We participated in the tire test in March. The tire fall-off is going to be fast, so managing tires during a long run will be important. I personally love old-school short-track racing. It’s going to be a physical race that my Richard Childress team is ready for.”
What does it mean to you to be a part of the group of drivers that gets to bring back racing at this historic track,?
“I think it’s very cool and important for our sport, and I’m thrilled that I get to be a part of history as one of the drivers competing in this year’s All-Star race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. I know they’ve done so much work to the track and the community is excited about having us there. North Wilkesboro Speedway is one of those racetracks where Richard Childress Racing has had a lot of success. I think we won five times with Dale Earnhardt. When I tested a couple of months ago, it was clear that it’s just a nostalgic place and I’m excited to run the All-Star race and see what we can do. Having a sold-out crowd to race in front of, there’s going to be nothing like it.”
What are you most looking forward to about the All-Star Race?
“I think the atmosphere is going to be electric. I love the format NASCAR came up with getting the pit crews involved. People are excited about it. I think this can become our Master’s event for NASCAR. It’s pretty much a second throwback weekend in a row, following Darlington Raceway. It’s going to be electric and we all want to have fun at the All-Star race. This is the track we can do that at. It’s going to be an experience – maybe even the best experience of the year for our sport. It’s something different, and I personally love the nostalgia associated with the track. I’m sure everybody is excited to see how the racing turns out and I think it will be great. It will be a blast from the past.”
The Dillon family has a lot of history at North Wilkesboro Speedway..
“It’s pretty cool because Mike Dillon was really good at North Wilkesboro Speedway. He earned two trophies there in the Late Model division, and has a second-place finish there as well. I’ll be walking the track with him to see if I can get any pointers. It’s been a minute since he earned one of those trophies, but I feel like a guy that’s good at a track is always good at it. My dad’s nickname back in the day was The Hurricane. One of the newspapers in Myrtle Beach named him that. He went to Myrtle Beach Speedway and rocked them like a Hurricane, I guess. The name Hurricane Mike definitely fits my dad very well. As a kid, when he would get mad he was like a hurricane.”
You’re racing for a Million dollars this weekend. You are one of the few drivers who had the opportunity to test there. Do you have an edge up on the competition, and how are you going to capitalize?
“It was great to participate in the Goodyear tire test to see the track, get on the track and test it out a little bit. We’ve got to get our car a little better. I think we’ve done that. It’s one of those things where you always want to make it better, and we can use what we learned at the test to try and do that. Racing at North Wilkesboro is going to be so special. We’re racing for a million dollars and those opportunities don’t happen every weekend for us. It’s a huge weekend for our sport and we’re going to do our best.”
KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Larson on racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway:
“I don’t know what to expect at all. I feel like we’ve done really well on the short tracks this year and we won at Richmond (Raceway) and Martinsville (Speedway), two tracks I typically wouldn’t be good at. I’m excited to go to North Wilkesboro (Speedway). It’s got worn out pavement. I’m typically not the best at saving my tires, so I’m a little nervous about that. Going into North Wilkesboro this weekend, I think that the atmosphere is going to be great. We’ll see how it goes, but I think that this could be a great spot to just leave the All-Star Race. I do love going to different venues and I think that really shows who the “all-star” is and who the best driver in the sport is. It’s definitely an honor to have won at Charlotte (Motor Speedway) and Texas (Motor Speedway). If I could win at North Wilkesboro, that would be pretty amazing and something to be proud of. I’m really excited about the opportunity to go there and I never thought that I would race at that track.”
CLIFF DANIELS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1
Daniels on the team's approach to the weekend:
“I think it will be interesting for us to get there (North Wilkesboro Speedway), touch the track, feel it and see what it’s all about. There is certainly a lot of excitement and anticipation. Kudos to SMI (Speedway Motorsports, LLC.), NASCAR, North Carolina and everybody who has taken the initiative to get us back to this place. I know that it’s going to be really special to all of us to be there and feel the excitement of the event. For us, it’s still a competitive race and it has a trophy. We still want to go put our best foot forward so we are going to study and do all of the things that we can to be good and be competitive. There are certainly a lot of unknowns, which will be fun to battle through and is of course going to be the same for the whole (NASCAR) Cup (Series) field. Hopefully, we shake out on the good end of things."
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
Elliott on returning to North Wilkesboro:
"Yeah, it’s been a little while (since I’ve been here). I guess about 13 years ago, kind of hard to believe. It is cool to be back. It has changed a lot. Doesn't look anything like I remember it. All the infield and everything has changed. Hats off to whoever has done all the work in here because they've done a lot in a short time. It’s good to be back and there's a lot of energy here obviously around this entire week. Not only from the spectators but as you can see there's a lot of excitement to be here at a race as well."
Elliott on what to expect in the All-Star Race this weekend:
"This place is old and worn out. It’s going to be hard to get a hold of throughout the All-Star Race. I hope it puts on a good show. I think it has the potential to do that. They’ve done a lot of work on the track in some different areas so that’s going to impact the way the race looks, too. I think I know about as little as anybody else at this point but certainly excited to be here."
ALAN GUSTAFSON, CREW CHIEF, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1
Gustafson on racing at North Wilkesboro:
"I don’t think anyone really knows what to expect at North Wilkesboro (Speedway) exactly. There was a tire test there and there was some wheel force testing. It’s not the same until the teams and the drivers get there and they get them all on the track and run. Looking forward to it. It’s going to be a huge learning curve for all of us. It should be fun."
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
Byron on his thoughts heading to North Wilkesboro:
"It’s going to be cool for sure. We’re nervous about the weekend and not knowing what to expect. Luckily, I’m running the late model race this week. I’m excited to run that and get back in a Super Late Model again. It should be a lot of fun as well as give me a good idea of what the track is going to be like, and we can go from there. Right now, I’m just telling my guys to set it up how you think is best since we don’t really have any simulation for the track. It’s going to be pretty fun to see who hits the set up and who needs to make changes after practice."
RUDY FUGLE, CREW CHIEF, NO. 24 LIBERTY UNIVERSITY CAMARO ZL1
Fugle on how to prepare for North Wilkesboro:
"I have as good of an idea on what the starting point is as anyone. We can kind of simulate what our travels should be here and there but otherwise we don’t have any data. There was a tire test earlier with three cars, but the track is going to be way different from then. The track will be more rubbered in this time from racing all week. It’s going to be some form of Richmond (Raceway) and Martinsville (Speedway) mixed – we think – but it’s North Wilkesboro (Speedway) and we don’t know what is going to happen really. We’ll have an hour to figure it out and I’m not sure how well anyone is going to hit the set up right away. Hopefully, by the end of Sunday night, we’re the group that has hit it."
JUSTIN HALEY, NO. 31 LEAFFILTER GUTTER PROTECTION CAMARO ZL1
“I’m very curious to see what North Wilkesboro has to offer. Obviously, we are not locked into the big show, so we will have to race our way in. It will be interesting to see what the tires do, as it’s a low-grip racetrack with a lot of tire wear. Coming off a strong run in Darlington, I’m excited to see if we can turn some heads and get a Kaulig Racing car into the All-Star Race.”
NOAH GRAGSON, NO. 42 SUNSEEKER RESORTS CAMARO ZL1
"I've been looking forward to the All-Star race weekend. The "Vote for Noah" fan vote campaign has been pretty fun and the fans have really gotten into it. We've been handing out buttons and posting flyers everywhere. I hope to win the Open race and not need the vote, but either way, I want the No. 42 Sunseeker Resorts Chevrolet in the main event. It's going to be a wild race at a historic track where we can highlight our pit crews and team, have some fun and go for it all. I hope the fans have a blast. It's going to be a special weekend and I am really just happy to have the opportunity to be a part of it."
ERIK JONES, NO. 43 STP CAMARO ZL1
"It's always exciting to get the chance to participate in an All-Star race and to get to do it at a historic track like North Wilkesboro is even more special. I took some advice from ‘The King’ as he said the track is so worn out it, tire fall off will be high. That kind of track really suits my driving style, With the iconic STP paint scheme on the No. 43 Chevrolet it will be like going back in time at North Wilkesboro. We hope to put on a good show for the fans of the No. 43. Richard (Petty) told me with this “Day Glo Red” I can’t hide from him - and with no points and a million bucks on the line, it’s going to be an aggressive race. It would be historic to put this car in victory lane again so we are going to do everything we can to make that happen.”
RICKY STENHOUSE JR., NO. 47 KROGER / COCA-COLA CAMARO ZL1
“Obviously, it’s nice to be locked into the NASCAR All-Star Race. When we show up, we’ll have a different agenda and focus on the car. Then we will see how strategy plays out through the race because everything is an unknown. One thing we do know is that tires will fall off a lot, and I’ve been watching old films where they had a lot of green flag runs. I’ve never made laps there, so I’m looking forward to getting on track.”
BLAKE HARRIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 ALLY CAMARO ZL1
Harris on his thoughts of racing at North Wilkesboro:
"I am looking forward to getting to North Wilkesboro (Speedway) this weekend. I have never been there for a Cup race, but I did make the Late Model Stock race last year when Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) raced and that was fun to watch. I love the old tracks, like the ones with history, and it’s really cool to see what they have done with the place to bring it back. We would go hiking with my family and drive through that place and see what it used to be. It’s super exciting to be able to go there and race on it. Josh (Berry) is familiar with that place and has made some laps around there in a Late Model, so I think we have an opportunity to play into his driving style. He was there Tuesday and was shooting us pictures of the track. For him to be plugged in the whole week with that and simulator time, it will keep him completely bought in on North Wilkesboro this week."
Harris on what he thinks the biggest obstacles will be at North Wilkesboro:
"I think the whole weekend will be along our normal lines as far as execution goes. We have to unload as close as we can since we only have one practice. We don’t have the luxury of unloading with something far off since we have to go straight into the Open to qualify in that way. We will lean on our pit crew to get us a good qualifying position in the Pit Crew Challenge. I do think our setup will come into play and how well we can manage our stuff throughout the race, but starting with some decent track position will be key as well."
GRANT ENFINGER, NO. 23 CHAMPION POWER EQUIPMENT SILVERADO RST
How cool is it that we get to return to North Wilkesboro Speedway with all its history this weekend?
"I am really excited for this weekend at North Wilkesboro. I never thought they would open it back up, but it is going to be really special to be the first NASCAR race back since it closed. They didn’t repave the track surface so it’s going to be the most tire wear and falloff that we’ve ever experienced. I was able to run a super late model there earlier in the week and learn a few things. We want to keep the momentum rolling in these next few races. My team has been working really hard and we are ready for another win."
RAJAH CARUTH, NO. 24 WENDELL SCOTT FOUNDATION SILVERADO RST
As a driver who started your career on iRacing, how awesome is it that this track was basically reborn because of the sim?
"It's pretty cool to head to a racetrack that became revitalized from the resurgence of sim racing. To see all of the hard work from everybody at iRacing, Dale Jr. and his team, and the Smith family has put in has been pretty awesome to see a racetrack that hasn't been raced on since before I was born come back to life. I can't wait to get to compete on it, and I feel confident that we should be able to have ourselves a good run. We've had some very strong trucks over the past couple of weeks and are starting to turn the page and have the tide turned in our favor. Hopefully we will have another good finish for the Wendell Scott Foundation, the men and woman on my No. 24 team, along with everyone at GMS Racing, GMS Fabrication, our body hangers, Chevrolet, Maury Gallagher, Mike Beam, and Ron Booth."
DANIEL DYE, NO. 43 CHAMPION CONTAINER CORPORATION SILVERADO RST
Last year, you were able to race a Super Late Model around North Wilkesboro when the track was revived. How can you take that experience and translate it to the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series this weekend?
“It definitely doesn't hurt that we ran a Super Late Model there last year! I wasn't able to get the finish that we were hoping for, but to be able to feel the surface and get a general sense on the grip that this track has was a good thing. I'm looking forward to our first primary race with Champion Container on our No. 43 GMS Racing Chevrolet this weekend; the truck looks great and I'm thankful to have their support in front of a large viewing audience in person and on FOX.”
CHRISTIAN ECKES, NO. 19 GATES HYDRAULICS SILVERADO RST
Eckes on returning to race at North Wilkesboro:
“It’s pretty crazy to see everything that’s happened with North Wilkesboro in the last couple years and to be able to have a full race weekend there is going to be exciting. Our Gates Hydraulics team is looking forward to racing there. We had a lot of speed at Martinsville, so we’re anxious to get back to a short track and try to get another win. The win at Darlington last week was such a huge honor, and to join names that have won there is really special. This week wouldn’t be any different. There’s so much history at Wilkesboro, and it’d be awesome to join that list of winners too. Tire management is going to be the big key to getting it done this weekend. Whoever can keep the tires under them the best is probably going to come out on top, so we’ll try to do everything we can to save tires and be up front at the end.”
JAKE GARCIA, NO. 35 QUANTA SILVERADO RST
Garcia on racing at North Wilkesboro Speedway:
“It’s a cool opportunity to race at such a historic track. I obviously never was able to see races at Wilkesboro, but that track means a lot to the sport, so it’s great to be able to race there. Tires are going to be everything on Saturday, and how you manage them. I’ve raced at a lot of tracks in super late models that chew tires up, but Wilkesboro might be more abrasive than any other racetrack. Everybody at MHR has built great trucks and we’ve had a lot of speed the last several weeks. I think we’ll have another strong Quanta Services Chevrolet on Saturday, and if we can manage the race and our tires the right way, I think we can be up front at the end of the day.”
CHASE PURDY, NO. 4 BAMA BUGGIES SILVERADO RST
Are you looking forward to being a part of NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro?
“It’s such an iconic place and has a lot of history. The last race that they held out there I wasn’t even born yet, but I’ve seen the videos since the time I was a kid. It’s going to be really cool to race at a place that has a lot of history. Short tracks are my thing -- what I grew up doing and made my career off of, so I’m excited to go there. We’ve had a really tough two weeks, but there is no reason we can’t get back to where we started the first five weeks of the season -- knocking off top fives and top 10s.”
How do you prepare for a track you’ve never been to, and the series hasn’t raced at in years?
“I think the only thing you can do is go back and watch old race videos. I know myself personally and a few others that I’ve talked to, they’ve gone back and watched the last race from the 90’s that was held there just to see what racing stock cars was like out there. Some people say it hasn’t changed that much, but I have no idea what to expect and I think that levels the playing field. Everybody will be trying to figure it out at the same time and he who figures it out the best will probably win the race.”
Is there a track that you’ve raced at that you feel is similar to North Wilkesboro?
“The only thing similar that I can think of is when I used to run Late Models at Myrtle Beach and Greenville-Pickens. Very rough race tracks, very abrasive race tracks. I think tire saving is going to be big this weekend. Even though you get tires, I think you can burn your stuff up in a couple laps from what people are saying. I think managing your tires and knowing when to take off and when not to is going to be the key.”
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 51 HENDRICKCARS.COM SILVERADO RST
Are you excited to be running three races this week at North Wilkesboro?
“I'm excited for it for sure. The track looks gorgeous -- it just really looks nice. The whole layout of the place has that feel of kind of a Wrigley Field or just a historic place that has a newness to it. I think the late model race will get me ready, running the truck race after that and running the Cup race on Sunday. Lots to do and feel like we don't really know what we're getting into yet. I think I practice at one o’clock on Tuesday, so I'll tell you after that.”