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NASCAR Cup Series: Logano dominates the All-Star Race in North Wilkesboro

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - James Gilbert / Getty Images

For the rare non-points race, NASCAR brought the drivers to North Wilkesboro, North Carolina for the All-Star Race – an event with a grand prize of $1 million. 

At race’s end, Joey Logano led 199 of 200 laps to take victory in what really was an eventful race. It is Joey Logano’s second All-Star Race win and fourth non-points race win (two All-Star, two Clash).

As it unfolded

Before the main event, the evening began with the All-Star Opens – where a driver races their way into the All-Star Race. This contest was dominated by Ty Gibbs, leading every lap. The other driver to race his way in was 23XI’s Bubba Wallace. The last of the qualifiers was through the Fan Vote, which was won by Stewart-Haas’ Noah Gragson.

As for the main event, two-time champion Joey Logano got away strong. Keselowski got off to a less than stellar start from second spot, getting overtaken by Tyler Reddick.

However, it took only five turns for the first incident to occur. Out of turn two on the opening lap, Ricky Stenhouse got a great start, but in trying to move up the field, he squeezed RCR’s Kyle Busch into the wall. Only two corners later, Busch retaliated – spinning Stenhouse into the wall and out of the race on lap two. He walked away from the incident unscathed.

Although, he walked away from the incident in an unusual spot. In frustration out of the intentional crash, the 2023 Daytona 500 champion decided to park his wrecked race car in Busch’s pit box and got out to have a brief talk with Busch’s crew chief. 

The aftermath of the incident that put Ricky Stenhouse out of the race on lap two | Credit - Sean Gardner / Getty Images

Under the caution, many cars came in to change from the softer tire onto the harder tire while the top five stayed out. 

On lap 11, the field came to the restart, and Logano continued what he tried starting and began to build a gap. For a number of laps, the top five built gaps – still holding their advantages on the soft tire.

The first signs of fading from the soft runners came with Tyler Reddick. He was originally running in second on lap 27, but only two laps later, he fell behind both Chris Buescher and Ryan Blaney. It only took to lap 42 until the first of the hard runners got by one of the top five, as Christopher Bell sailed on by the fading Reddick.

William Byron, who had been running in the higher top ten, got into the wall of turn four on lap 70. As a result, he had to go down pit road for repairs, effectively putting him out of the race.

Logano’s lead began to finally be threatened on lap 74 by Chris Buescher, with lapped traffic playing a role. Furthermore, the advantage the soft runners once had was no longer existent, as drivers like Bell and Denny Hamlin on the hards started to close the gaps. 

Though he got swamped by Bubba Wallace, who fought to stay on the lead lap, Joey Logano held onto the lead when the halfway caution came out on lap 101. He was followed by the RFK pair of Chris Buescher and Brad Keselowski.

With the halfway caution, this meant every driver had to take a four-tire mandatory pit stop; whether they changed to softs or hards was up to the teams’ discretion. Logano still kept his lead as did Buescher in second, but Christopher Bell managed to gain two positions into third.

On the restart, Bell fought hard to get by Logano for the lead at the narrow North Wilkesboro. Staying side-by-side for five laps, the Joe Gibbs driver slid up into Logano’s door with 88 laps to go, allowing Denny Hamlin to nearly make a double-overtake. However, Logano managed to stay clear of Hamlin.

Hamlin, Bell and Logano's three-way battle for the lead | Credit - James Gilbert / Getty Images

Before the three-time Daytona 500 winner could apply pressure to the leader, the caution came out on lap 119. In turn one, Kyle Busch misjudged his braking point and spun Ty Gibbs around – his second incident of the race. 

As for the takers in the pits in this cycle: Tyler Reddick took the softs while Daniel Suarez took the hards.

The race restarted on lap 122, and Logano continued his dominance up front. In the second spot, however, Logano’s teammate Ryan Blaney began to make himself known – drawing alongside Hamlin for a number of laps. On lap 141, the defending champion finally made his way by Hamlin.

As the leader crossed the line to complete the 150th lap, the second and final planned caution was thrown. The top three at the caution were Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.

Under the caution, many drivers took the opportunity for fresh tires, including Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace.

The race resumed with 42 laps to go, and Larson made up ground quickly, moving up to third by 38 to go. Though when he tried to pass Denny Hamlin later on, Larson struggled to get by – possibly overheating the tires. This theory proved true as they hit 20 to go, with Buescher beginning to put pressure on the 2021 champion.

Leading all but one lap, Joey Logano crossed the line first to dominantly take the $1,000,000. This was Logano’s second All-Star Race win. Denny Hamlin kept him honest the whole time and came home second. Chris Buescher came out on top of a battle with Kyle Larson, both coming home third and fourth. Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five.

Bubba Wallace rallied from one lap down to finish sixth. Ross Chastain and Chase Elliott quietly took seventh and eighth respectively. Michael McDowell – also a lap down at one point – finished ninth. Rounding out the top ten was Kyle Busch.

Post-race, Ricky Stenhouse waited for Kyle Busch in the garage to have a conversation with him. This conversation turned into a fight though, as they and their pit crews started attempting punches. After 30 seconds, the spat was cleared up.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR action next Sunday night, as the drivers take on the longest race of the year at Charlotte: the Coca-Cola 600.


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