NASCAR All-Star Race Week Begins with a Close Look at Pavement and Tire Options

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Members of the media were able to see the new asphalt of North Wilkesboro Speedway up-close and personal during pace car rides with NASCAR on FOX broadcaster and 1996 NASCAR All-Star Race winner, Michael Waltrip, and zMAX CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car driver Brenden “Butterbean” Queen. Also available for interviews were Steve Swift, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports, Kip Childress, Executive Director of the zMAX CARS Tour, and Carson Kvapil, driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Late Model Stock Car. 

Media members climbed aboard the Chevrolet Camaro pace cars to experience the unique characteristics of the .625-mile track with Waltrip, who raced on the previous surface from 1983-1996, and Queen, who won last year’s Window World 125 CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car event. In addition to pace car rides, examples of the Goodyear tire options for the All-Star Race, including the “Prime” or regular tire and the “Option” or softer tires, as well as the wet weather tire, were available to examine. 

“Marcus Smith is a genius, and what Marcus did with this place, renovating it, yet capturing the nostalgic feel that it has, and the retro feeling, fixing it up, but not losing sight of what North Wilkesboro used to be all about,” said Waltrip. “It’s going to be a great, great week, we’re going to have the late models, the CARS Tour, the trucks and then Sunday night, the big NASCAR Cup All-Star Race.”

“It’s just going to make it more aggressive when there’s grip,” Waltrip added. “When there’s an abundance of grip you want to run the shortest way around the race track and so if you’re running the shortest way around the race track, but somebody behind you is a little bit better, passing is more difficult which means it becomes more physical. You gotta bump a little bit to get people up out of the way. It’ll be interesting to see if the upper grove comes in too. There’s all these nuances to new pavement and how the cars stick in different grooves in the corners. And then you take all that into consideration and you throw in these soft tires that they’re going to have to deal with and it’s going to be pretty intriguing.” 

Queen commented on having the challenge of racing against some NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series drivers this week. 

“I never try to dwell on that, but it’s cool to see the bigger names in the Late Model race and like last year to know that I won and beat them all, it was really, really special,” said Queen. “We go there and do our job and put our helmet on and do our job. You want to beat the best and we love to race against them. To be the best you gotta beat the best. We love when they come and run with us because it puts a bigger spotlight on our series.”

Swift detailed the lineup of fan-friendly events that will take place this week, leading into the NASCAR All-Star Race. 

“We’ve got the hauler parade coming back Thursday night and Wilkes County, they do a great job going through both Wilkesboro and North Wilkesboro, for a great show for all the haulers to come through a lot of celebrities and legends that run with that,” said Swift. “Tuesday and Wednesday night we’ve got some of the best racers in the CARS Tour that’ll be here. Should put on a great show, the late models, this is kind of where they’re tried and true and this is a great facility for them. This is probably one of the best ones that they’ll run on. Friday night, the Pit Crew Challenge, a little bit of a twist to that, we’re going to have the All-Star teams only available for the Pit Crew Challenge, but all cars will be doing the qualifying sessions. Then we roll into Saturday for a great truck race, then we’ve got the two heat races to set the field for Sunday, then we have the Open and the All-Star Race itself for Sunday.” 

Childress recommends fans pay attention to the up and coming drivers in the CARS Tour races.

“The biggest thing to really take in is the fact that when they see our kids, our guys, our gals on the race track is to realize that out of that bunch that they’re looking at the next stars of motorsports,” said Childress. “Brendan is a good example of that, Carson Kvapil is another good example. Our drivers who just this year are having opportunities to race at the higher levels of motorsports, whether it’s the CRAFTSMAN Truck Series or NASCAR Xfinity Series. So pay close attention to these kids that are running, because it won’t be long before you’re seeing them on Sundays.”

Kvapil, who won the CARS Tour event at North Wilkesboro in 2022, is ready to take on the historic track again. 

“Just being back out here is super cool,” said Kvapil. “I mean, after the first year that we did it in 2022, that was obviously a big kick start for this race track and just being able to come back, just that year was a pretty big deal to all of us honestly, and after that race, we kind of knew that there was definitely going to have to be some more shows here. The amount of attention and the amount of fans that showed up to support that first race was pretty big. Fortunately we had a really good car that day and we were able to win that race. Coming back the next year we were pretty good as well and I think we finished top-ten. Now coming back on the new pavement is pretty different honestly, it’s going to feel different, we’ve already gotten to practice a few times to get a good feel for it. There’s definitely some differences, but even though it’s new pavement, the track definitely drives the same and I think it’ll be a lot of the same racing.”

NASCAR All-Star Race week will include five days or nights of entertainment at North Wilkesboro Speedway including:

  • Tuesday, May 14: zMAX CARS Tour Pro Late Models Reverend 100 
  • Wednesday, May 15: zMAX CARS Tour Late Model Stock Car Window World 125
  • Friday, May 17:  All-Star Friday presented by Raymer Oil NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck and Cup Series practice; the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear; Tim Dugger and Neal McCoy concerts
  • Saturday, May 18: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series qualifying and Wright Brand 250; NASCAR Cup Series qualifying heat races
  • Sunday, May 19: Warren Zeiders pre-race concert; NASCAR All-Star Open and NASCAR All-Star Race 


Single-day tickets, camping and parking for all NASCAR All-Star Race week events including the zMAX CARS Tour can be purchased online by visiting Fans shopping for the best value can purchase a five-day, NASCAR All-Star Race week ticket package starting at just $259. The package includes all NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and zMAX CARS Tour races, qualifying and practice sessions, plus Neal McCoy and Warren Zeiders concerts and the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear.


Fans can connect with North Wilkesboro Speedway and get the latest news regarding NASCAR All-Star week and North Wilkesboro Speedway by following on X and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan.


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