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Jim Utter

Larson dominates North Wilkesboro for third NASCAR All-Star win

Larson, who won Saturday’s Truck Series race at the historic 0.625-mile short track, replicated his dominating performance in Sunday night’s victory in the All-Star Race, which also net him the $1 million top prize.

Despite an early pit road speeding penalty, Larson sliced through the field on new tires and at one point built a 12-second lead before the halfway break.

He picked up where he left off for the most part in the second stage and eventually took the checkered flag by 4.537 seconds over Bubba Wallace to secure the win.

“An old-school ass-whoopin' like they would’ve seen here,” Larsons said over his team radio after taking the checkered flag.

It’s the third All-Star Race victory for Larson in just nine fulltime seasons in the Cup Series. He joins Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt for second-most all-time.

All three of Larson’s All-Star wins have come on different tracks – Charlotte, Texas and now North Wilkesboro.

“I can’t even tell you what it means. My third all-star win at my third different track,” Larson said. “We could feel the atmosphere all weekend. We had a great car on the long run there, just was thinking that for sure there was going to be a caution, right?

“We drove from dead last to the lead and checked out like 12 or 13 seconds. What an amazing car. Everything my car did bad Friday it did great today.”

Larson’s Truck victory Saturday came in the first points-paying race at the track in any NASCAR series since 1996, when Jeff Gordon won the final Cup Series race held at the track.

Following multi-million-dollar renovations by Speedway Motorsports, the track reopened this week to host a week of racing including Late Models, Trucks and Sunday’s All-Star Race.

Tyler Reddick finished third, Chase Briscoe fourth and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.

Completing the top-10 were Ryan Blaney, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones, Ty Gibbs and Joey Logano.

By winning his heat race Saturday night, Suarez started on the pole for the main event on Sunday night.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got spun around by Jones on Lap 16 which brought out the first caution of the race. Several cars in the back of the field elected to pit for new tires.

Larson was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field. Suarez remained on the track and in the lead on the restart with 180 laps to go.

By Lap 45, Larson had cut through the field on new tires despite the penalty and was fighting to crack the top five. Ten laps later, Larson drove past both Denny Hamlin and Suarez to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Wallace, who was among those who pit under the first caution, worked his way into the top five with just over 15 laps before the halfway break.

NASCAR displayed a planned competition caution on Lap 102 just past halfway. All the lead-lap cars hit pit road for new tires with Larson first off pit road.

During the stops, Ross Chastain was penalized for speeding and Logano and Bell for an uncontrolled tire. All had to restart from the rear of the field. When the race resumed on Lap 111, Larson was followed by Wallace, Suarez and Reddick.

With 75 laps to go, Larson had built a 1.5-second lead over Wallace as Reddick ran third.

Larson’s lead continued to expand in the second stage, and he led by more than four seconds over Wallace with less than 40 laps remaining in the race.

Larson remained in control with 10 laps to go, with a more than four second lead over Wallace. With no need to pit for fuel, teams dared not pit under green for new tires for fear of going multiple laps down.

By finishing first and second, respectively, in the 100-lap Open race earlier Sunday, Josh Berry and Gibbs gained entry into the All-Star main event. Noah Gragson joined the 24-car field by winning the fan vote.

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