Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 |
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NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Kyle Larson didn’t mince words after his third All-Star race victory in the last five years.
“That was an old school (butt)-whipping, for sure,” Larson said.
Larson turned in a dominating effort to run away with his third All-Star race and earn $1 million Sunday night in the Cup Series’ return to North Wilkesboro Speedway following a 27-year absence.
He became only the fourth driver to win the All-Star race at least three times. Jimmie Johnson has the most with four victories, while Larson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt have three. Larson is the first to win the All-Star race at three different tracks, also having won in Charlotte in 2019 and Texas in 2021.
He celebrated the win with a full lap of burnouts around the .625-mile track as Hendrick Motorsports won its 11th All-Star race.
Bubba Wallace finished second in the 200-lap non-points exhibition race, followed by Tyler Reddick, Chase Briscoe and Chase Elliott.
But only Larson collected prize money in the winner-take-all event.
Wallace joked he won the “best of the rest.”
“Larson was lights out, so congrats to him,” Wallace said. “They have been hitting it on the head all season, so to run second to them is not a bad thing. But to run second in the All-Star race sucks because you go home with nothing.”
Larson was unsure if he would finish better than 15th after struggling in the heat races Saturday night.
“I didn’t think there was enough there for (my crew) to get me better,” Larson said.
So when Larson was penalized for speeding on lap 24 and sent to the back of the field, he figured it was not his night.
But after taking on the new tires, he drove his No. 5 Chevrolet to the front of the field blowing past 16 cars, including polesitter Daniel Suarez on lap 56. Larson went on to build an 11-second lead before the first competition caution at lap 100.
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