CRAFTSMAN Truck Series drivers participate in Goodyear test at North Wilkesboro Speedway
As part of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary, Cup Series racing will return to North Wilkesboro for the first time since 1996.
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (WBTV) - A trio of NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series drivers, including defending series champion Zane Smith and rising stars Carson Hocevar and Corey Heim, participated in a Goodyear Tire test on Monday at the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in preparation for the upcoming Tyson 250 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race on NASCAR All-Star race weekend.
The Tyson 250 on Saturday afternoon will get North Wilkesboro fans ready for Sunday night’s main feature, the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race at 8 p.m.
For the first time since 1996, the NASCAR Cup Series will compete at North Wilkesboro Speedway during a jam-packed May 16 through May 21 NASCAR All-Star Race week of action that will also include two nights of late model racing and three concerts in addition to the Tyson 250.
In Monday’s Goodyear test, the trio of teams worked closely with Goodyear officials to help identify a tire for all Truck teams to use in the Tyson 250.
“It’s going to be a cool event, it’s so crazy to see this place come back to life,” said Smith, driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford. “It’s the perfect place for a throwback race. The infield is beautiful and it’s surrounded by a track with so much history. We are trying to figure out our truck and trying to see where we can be better and what adjustments we can make to it.”
Smith says the unique North Wilkesboro layout, with a downhill frontstretch and uphill backstretch presents a unique challenge.
“I hope we can move around some come race time,” Smith continued. “If you miss the bottom in one and two you are going to pay for it in a big way. We put a lot of focus on handling today. It will be fun trying something new for one weekend.”
He says the buildup for this race throughout the NASCAR industry and sports world has been epic.
“You hear about this track every day in the shop and all of the legends of our sport talk about it and this is a place you always hear about,” Smith said. “The last few years you kept hearing rumors about this place possibly coming back and I think every racer loves short tracks. It was great to see Dale (Earnhardt) Jr. and others help make this place a reality.”
Hocevar said when he walked into the property he was in awe the whole time he was here.
“Rarely do you have a test where you are smiling the whole time you are out there going around the track,” said Hocevar, driver of the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevy. “It was a lot of fun to be out there today slipping and sliding around on this historic track. It sounds silly, but this is our ‘Field of Dreams.’ I’m not a baseball fan, but it was super cool to see that. This is just like that, this is our deal. Everyone has high expectations and hopefully we meet it. It felt like I was walking into a track where we weren’t supposed to be. I’m just really glad that NASCAR, Dale Jr. and the CARS Tour kept picking at it. I wanna be the one that goes up that ramp over there (iconic infield Victory Lane on rooftop of Media Center). That is the coolest Victory Lane ever. If I do, I’m not leaving, I will watch the Cup race from there.”
Heim, who had raced Late Models here in the past, said he felt like his team learned quite a bit during the session.
“I feel like we learned a lot and went through a lot of progressions like we normally do for short tracks,” said Heim, driver of the No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota. “I feel like this track has a lot more grip than what some people said it had. When we come back in the summer when it will be a lot warmer it should be interesting. It’s really cool and a historic moment for NASCAR and racing in general. To see what NASCAR brings this summer is going to be really exciting. This is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
NASCAR All-Star Race week will include six days or nights of entertainment including:
- Tuesday, May 16: ASA Stars National Series
- Wednesday, May 17: CARS Pro and Late Model Stocks
- Friday, May 19: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck and Cup Series practice; Concerts by Midland and Chase Rice
- Saturday, May 20: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series qualifying and Tyson 250; NASCAR Cup Series qualifying
- Sunday, May 21: Dierks Bentley pre-race concert; NASCAR All-Star Open and NASCAR All-Star Race
Schedules are tentative and subject to change. Specific on-track schedules and the All-Star Race format will be released at a later date.
TICKETS: NASCAR All-Star Race weekend ticket packages for all Friday/Saturday/Sunday activities including NASCAR Cup and CRAFTSMAN Truck Series practice and qualifying sessions; Midland, Chase Rice and Dierks Bentley concerts; NASCAR All-Star Open; NASCAR All-Star Race and Tyson 250 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race are on sale. Single-day tickets for All-Star Friday presented by Raymer Oil and Saturday’s Tyson 250 are also on sale. Tickets can be purchased online at www.northwilkesborospeedway.com. Single-day May 16-17 late model race tickets will be on sale in March.
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