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Jim Utter

NASCAR Cup North Wilkesboro: Larson dominates for third All-Star win

After winning Saturday’s Truck Series race at the 0.625-mile short track, the first points-paying race at the track in any NASCAR series since 1996, Larson replicated his dominating performance with Sunday night’s victory in the non-championship All-Star Race to net the $1 million top prize.

Despite an early pit road speeding penalty, the 2021 Cup champion sliced through the field on new tyres and at one point built a 12-second lead before the halfway break.

Larson picked up where he left off for the most part in the second stage and took the checkered flag by 4.537 seconds over 23XI Toyota driver Bubba Wallace to secure the win.

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

His third All-Star Race victory for Larson, in just nine full-time Cup seasons, ties with Jeff Gordon and the late Dale Earnhardt for second-most in NASCAR history, and comes after previous All-Star victories at Charlotte (2019) and Texas (2021).

“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.”

While Larson was storming through the field, taking the lead for the first time on lap 55 with a move on poleman Daniel Suarez and Denny Hamlin, Wallace was working his way into the top five after making his first stop under a caution caused by Ricky Stenhouse Jr being spun out by Erik Jones on lap 16.

Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro (Photo by: Matthew T. Thacker / NKP / Motorsport Images)

Following a planned competition caution on lap 102, all the lead-lap cars hit pit road for new tyres with Larson emerging first ahead of Wallace, Suarez and Tyler Reddick. 

Larson consistently grew his lead and faced little threat from behind. With no need to pit for fuel, teams dared not pit under green for new tires for fear of going multiple laps down.

Reddick finished third ahead of Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott, as Suarez faded to seventh behind Ryan Blaney.

Jones, Ty Gibbs and Joey Logano, who had to serve a pitlane penalty after the competition caution, completed the top 10.

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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