NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Three of the drivers locked into the NASCAR All-Star Race enjoyed an advance look at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Tuesday, as Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick participated in a Goodyear tire test before the NASCAR Cup Series returns to North Wilkesboro for the All-Star Race on May 21.
“When you’re on the race track, the surface, the elevation, it feels really old-school,” Reddick said after the test. “It’s very much different from a lot of the race tracks that we have on the circuit, and I really enjoyed it. We didn’t do any sim work. We went in with the team’s best guess, I came in with an open mind and we went about taking on the day. I just really enjoyed making our 20- and 50-lap runs today. You really have to respect the race track and think long-term (with tire conservation).
“For me, more than anything, just the energy that will be here, I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Buescher’s No. 17 RFK Racing Ford, and Reddick’s No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota shook down the 0.625-mile track and tried different tire compounds to test tire wear and grip around Wilkesboro’s storied, abrasive surface.
“To see the changes in the track (since a December 2019 cleaning for the iRacing simulation) is amazing,” Buescher said. “It’s so cool to see the progress made, and the mix of the old and the new. I know the fans are going to love it. I imagine everybody’s going to be pumped to come out here, and you’re going to have a very loyal fan base for this track, for a long time. It’s going to put on a good race, too. It was a lot of fun in the race car.
“We got to make several hundred laps in our race car, went through different tire options and learned a lot. It’s a track that’s rough around the edges. It’s got a ton of character.”
The trio of drivers will be among a who’s-who of NASCAR luminaries attempting to capture the checkered flag in the first NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro. Tuesday’s action marked the first time the 75-year-old track had hosted a Cup Series-sanctioned event since the checkered flag last flew on a Cup Series race in 1996.
“It’s so cool. There’s so much history here. The track’s still the old track,” Dillon said. “It just teaches you short-track racing (techniques), being easy on that gas pedal and trying to take care of the rear tires. We had a blast and I can’t wait to come back. Just finally getting here was cool. This place was dormant forever and now it’s alive, and you can feel the energy and the momentum that’s building. It’s going to be electric (in May). It’s going to have that feel they had in the 1990s here, when they were packed out and fans were getting to enjoy a race near home. It’s rough out there. It’s gritty. It’s North Wilkesboro.”