NASCAR Cup Series Race Report - All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro

May 21, 2023

Track: North Wilkesboro Speedway
Race: NASCAR All-Star Race
Date: May 21, 2023

Austin Cindric | No. 2 Keystone Light Ford Mustang

Start: 17th
Competition Caution (Lap 100): 22nd
Finish: 21st

Race Rundown: Austin Cindric finished 21st in Sunday evening's highly anticipated return to the historic North Wilkesboro Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race. Cindric started 17th in what turned out to be a surprisingly tame battle for the $1 million grand prize, but struggled with lateral grip early in the 200-lap race. At the time of the scheduled halfway-point caution, the sophomore NASCAR Cup Series driver was scored 22nd and steered the No. 2 Keystone Light Ford Mustang to the attention of his pit crew for four fresh tires, fuel and adjustments. Cindric restarted 22nd and hovered around that spot for the remainder of race, ultimately taking the checkered flag in the 21st position. 

Cindric's Thoughts: "It was certainly a very cool weekend to experience firsthand as a driver in the All-Star Race coming back to North Wilkesboro. I think we learned a lot this weekend having the opportunity to race on a track this grip-limited and to actually make some adjustments with a 50-minute practice session. Obviously, not the night that we would've wanted. We missed the only opportunity to make a strategy call to get us on a tire advantage. Past that, certainly not the performance we wanted on the night. I think I learned a lot and we're looking forward to next week and running 600 miles."

Ryan Blaney | No. 12 Menards / Wrangler Ford Mustang

Start: 11th
Competition Caution (Lap 100): 11th
Finish: 6th

Race Rundown: Ryan Blaney got off to a fast start in Sunday night's All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway, gaining five spots in the first ten laps while finding success wrapping the bottom lane of the corners before settling into sixth in the running order. Blaney and the No. 12 team opted to stay out during the first caution of the night on lap 15 to maintain their track position, but the long, green-flag run that lasted up until the competition caution on lap 100 shuffled Blaney back into 11th as cars on differing tire strategies made their way to the front. On what amounted to be the lone pit stop of the night, the No. 12 team serviced the Menards/Wrangler Ford Mustang with four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments to alleviate reported issues with corner entry and rear security through the corners. Blaney restarted eighth with a focus on managing his tires in the event the race stayed green the rest of the way, allowing him to come away with a sixth-place finish in the series' first race since 1996 at the famed short track.

Blaney's Thoughts: "I had a fun night. Sixth was probably the highest we got to and where we finished, and I thought we could run fifth. Overall, it wasn't a bad night. We didn't have winning speed, but it was a fun night, for sure. It was just a case of how disciplined you wanted to be. The whole last run going green was super cool. It was big tire management because you never really know how many laps you're going to run. I kind of had it in my mind right away like, ‘Alright, we might go the whole way, so let's kind of plan on that,' and it happened. It was a pretty fun night trying to conserve tires. It reminded me of my late model days."

Joey Logano | No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang

Start: 3rd
Competition Caution (Lap 100): 4th
Finish: 10th

Race Rundown: Joey Logano started Sunday night's All-Star Race from the inside of row two which proved to be the preferred lane in the series' return to the historic North Carolina short track. Logano made his way to second in the running order on the opening lap and challenged for the lead before settling into third for the first green flag run of the night. After staying out following the caution on lap 15, Logano remained in the top-five as those with fresher tires began to make their way to the front. Logano was scored fourth at the time of the competition caution on lap 100 and made his way to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a round of adjustments to assist with a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners. However, the No. 22 team was penalized for an uncontrolled tire during the stop, relegating Logano to the tail end of the field for the following restart. Logano made his way back into the top-15 in the opening laps of what ultimately was the final green-flag run of the night while battling through lapped and lead-lap traffic before breaking into the top-10 on lap 177. Despite his charge back through the field, Logano was forced to settle for a 10th-place finish.

Logano's Thoughts: "It was great to have a true, short track race. To me, that was old-school short track racing. Whenever you can get rewarded for taking care of your equipment and managing tire wear it shows a lot of what each driver is capable of. We did all we could to manage our tires but we weren't able to capitalize with having to go to the back following the competition caution. Being able to drive all the way back up to 10th shows how fast our car was but we had nothing to show for it in the end."

What's Next: The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 28 for the Coca-Cola 600. Coverage of the event will be carried on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90 at 6:00 p.m. ET.