The NASCAR Ford teams couldn’t hold a candle to the No. 5 NASCAR Chevy Camaro of Kyle Larson during the All-Star race at North Wilkesboro on May 21st, 2023, but even so, The Blue Oval had a night of ups-and-downs at the resurrected speedway.
North Wilkesboro has been bereft of Cup Series activity since 1996, but was recently catapulted back onto the schedule after massive rebuilding efforts to bring the track back to its former glory. It certainly provided the perfect battleground for the Cup Series’ annual non-point paying All-Star race.
But first, let’s revisit the Open, which is another exhibition race that allows non-qualifying drivers to advance to the invitation-only All-Star race. On Lap 50 of the short race, the No. 34 NASCAR Ford Mustang of Michael McDowell got into a spat with the No. 54 Toyota TRD Camry of Ty Gibbs, sending the former spinning. On Lap 78, McDowell and the No. 34 Mustang got revenge, squeezing the No. 54 of Gibbs into the outside wall. This move allowed Josh Berry in the No. 48 Camaro to pass Gibbs’ No. 54 for the lead and win the Open.
McDowell was understandably frustrated with Gibbs, a rookie.
“It’s short-track racing to try to get into the All-Star Race, so somebody’s going to leave with hurt feelings – I guess it’s me,” McDowell said. “I got a great restart there, kind of worked the outside, got a couple of guys and was able to get down, and Ty just plowed into me, just knocked me into the 31 [Justin Haley] and spun us both out… All that stuff comes around, man. You can get away with it a few times, but it comes around. I don’t have the budget for the fine. Otherwise, I would not be standing here. I’d be standing down there (confronting Gibbs on pit road).”
As for the All-Star race, The Blue Oval was a non-factor, leading no laps while Larson’s No. 5 Chevy commanded the field. Chase Briscoe was the best-finishing NASCAR Ford team, posting a fourth-place result in the No. 14 Mustang. Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Mustang quietly finished sixth, while Joey Logano put the No. 22 Mustang in 10th at the line.
|Finish||Start||Car Number||Driver||Team||Laps Run||Laps Led||Car|
|1||16||5||Kyle Larson||HendrickCars.com Chevrolet||200||145||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|2||10||23||Bubba Wallace||Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota||200||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|3||20||45||Tyler Reddick||The Beast Unleashed Toyota||200||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|4||5||14||Chase Briscoe||HighPoint.com Ford||200||0||Ford Mustang|
|5||13||9||Chase Elliott||NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet||200||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|6||11||12||Ryan Blaney||Menards/Wrangler Ford||200||0||Ford Mustang|
|7||1||99||Daniel Suarez||Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet||200||55||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|8||21||43||Erik Jones||STP Chevrolet||200||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|9||23||54||Ty Gibbs #||Monster Energy Toyota||200||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|10||3||22||Joey Logano||Shell Pennzoil Ford||200||0||Ford Mustang|
|11||18||1||Ross Chastain||Worldwide Express Chevrolet||200||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|12||7||20||Christopher Bell||Interstate Batteries Toyota||200||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|13||9||11||Denny Hamlin||Yahoo! Toyota||199||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|14||12||19||Martin Truex Jr.||Bass Pro Shops Toyota||199||0||Toyota TRD Camry|
|15||22||48||Josh Berry(i)||Ally Chevrolet||199||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|16||2||17||Chris Buescher||Fastenal Ford||199||0||Ford Mustang|
|17||4||3||Austin Dillon||BREZTRI Chevrolet||199||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|18||15||29||Kevin Harvick||Busch Light Ford||198||0||Ford Mustang|
|19||8||6||Brad Keselowski||Nexlizet Ford||198||0||Ford Mustang|
|20||6||24||William Byron||Liberty University Chevrolet||198||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|21||17||2||Austin Cindric||Keystone Light Ford||198||0||Ford Mustang|
|22||14||8||Kyle Busch||Thorntons Chevrolet||198||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|23||24||42||Noah Gragson #||Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet||197||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
|24||19||47||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevrolet||196||0||Chevrolet Camaro ZL1|
# – Rookie
i – Points ineligible
* – Part-time driver
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