NASCAR Cup Series: All-Star Race Predictions and How To Watch

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 20: Chris Buescher, driver of the #17 Fastenal Ford, leads the field during qualifying heat #2 for the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The NASCAR All-Star Race comes to us from a renovated North Wilkesboro Speedway this weekend as the classic track is back in the spotlight.

One week after the throwback weekend at Darlington, NASCAR returns to a classic track for the 2023 All-Star Race.

North Wilkesboro Speedway will see Cup Series cars on its surface for the first time since 1996 this weekend as the All-Star Race heads to a short track this year. There will be lots of on-track action throughout the weekend involving not only the drivers but their pit crews as well. Let’s take a look at the special format for the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race.

All-Star Format

Things begin on Friday with a single practice session and qualifying. Sounds normal, right? Well, not exactly. Qualifying isn’t just up to the drivers, but also their pit crews. Drivers will start in the pits behind their designated pit box. They’ll pull in, do a four-tire stop (no fuel), and peel out to the timing line just ahead of their box. The times registered will determine the starting order for the two heat races on Saturday as well as Sunday’s All-Star Open (more on that in a moment).

Saturday’s heat races will each be 60 laps long, with all laps, both green and yellow, counting. The finishing order for the first heat race will determine the inside row for Sunday’s All-Star Race while the finishing order in the second heat race will determine the outside row.

Let’s now get into Sunday’s All-Star Open. The Open is an opportunity for drivers who haven’t qualified for the All-Star Race to make it into the field. To qualify you must have a win in either 2022 or 2023, have a previous All-Star Race win, or be a former champion. Based on those criteria, we have 16 drivers participating in the Open. Notable names include A.J. Allmendinger, Ty Gibbs, and Ryan Newman.

The Open will be 100 laps long with a competition caution on Lap 40, and it too will see all laps counted. The top two finishers will qualify for the main event, with one additional driver earning a spot in the All-Star Race through a fan vote.

Then we come to the All-Star Race itself, a 200-lap event with a competition caution around Lap 100, and $1 million on the line. Tons of racing between some of the world’s best drivers at a historic NASCAR venue. What’s not to like?

The Track

North Wilkesboro Speedway is a 0.625-mile oval short track in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. The track hosted the NASCAR Cup Series from 1951-1996 but its lack of amenities and worn-down nature saw it sold to Speedway Motorsports in 1996, who selected some of their other tracks to take North Wilkesboro’s two calendar spots.

Recently though the track was revived through an influx of funds that allowed for much-needed renovations. This project is what allowed NASCAR to return to this historic site and once again race on its surface for the 2023 All-Star Race. During its first go around with NASCAR it saw several stock car legends take to it, such as Dale Earnhardt, 15-time winner Richard Petty, and Jeff Gordon, who was the last driver to win a Cup Series race at North Wilkesboro in the fall of 1996. This rich history is what makes this weekend so exciting.

While we don’t necessarily know how the 2023 cars will behave at North Wilkesboro, simply seeing the track back in action will be special. If fans get some good racing on top of that, NASCAR may have found its new permanent home for the All-Star Race.


Kyle Larson is a popular pick this weekend having won at both short tracks this year at Martinsville and Richmond, but lately, he’s been subject to some, let’s say harsh contact that has foiled his plans. Since he’s had some bad luck lately, I’ll take Joey Logano this weekend. He hasn’t been up to his 2022 standard this year but he was the runner-up at Martinsville and finished seventh at Richmond. He’s a veteran who can adapt to the new track and I think he’ll take home the $1 million prize this weekend.

  1. Joey Logano, Team Penske
  2. William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports
  3. Christopher Bell, Joe Gibbs Racing
  4. Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
  5. Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing

How To Watch – NASCAR All-Star Race (All Times ET)

  • Practice: Friday, May 19 – 4:00 p.m. – FS1
  • All-Star Pit Crew Challenge Qualifying: Friday, May 19 – 5:45 p.m. – FS1
  • Heat Race 1: Saturday, May 20 – 7:20 p.m. – FS1
  • Heat Race 2: Saturday, May 20 – 8:15 p.m. – FS1
  • All-Star Open: Sunday, May 21 – 5:30 p.m. – FS1
  • All-Star Race: Sunday, May 21 – 8:00 p.m. – FS1 (Green flag at 8:15 p.m.)
Featured Image Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images