On Monday, three Truck Series drivers – reigning champion Zane Smith, Carson Hocevar and Corey Heim – took part in a one-day Goodyear tire test on the historic 0.625-mile oval.
North Wilkesboro will host the annual Cup Series’ All-Star Race as well as a Truck series event the weekend of May 20-21. In the week leading up to the main event, there will also be two nights of Late Model racing and three concerts.
The three teams Monday worked closely with Goodyear officials to help select a tire for May 20 race.
“It’s going to be a cool event, it’s so crazy to see this place come back to life,” said Smith, who drives the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. “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 said they track’s 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 (Turn) 1 and 2 you are going to pay for it in a big way. We put a lot of focus on handling. It will be fun trying something new for one weekend.”
Hocevar said when he first walked into the property he was in awe.
“It was a lot of fun to be out there slipping and sliding around on this historic track,” said Hocevar, who drives the No. 42 Chevrolet for Niece Motorsports. “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.”
Heim had some previous experience at the track, having participated in some Late Model events that have been held since NASCAR last competed on the track in 1996.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Last year, local volunteer groups spent months cleaning up the area around the 75-year-old race track. The N.C. state budget passed in November 2021 included $18 million toward infrastructure improvements at the facility.
In recent months, the entire infield area has been paved, renovations made to the track’s suite boxes, a portion of pit road has been torn up and replaced and SAFER barrier installed. A 5,000-seat temporary grandstand will also be added.