NASCAR Truck Series: 5 Takeaways from North Wilkesboro

NORTH WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 20: Kyle Larson, driver of the #7 Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro Speedway on May 20, 2023 in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Hosting its third race, 27 years after the second race was run, North Wilkesboro returned to the Truck Series schedule. Here are five takeaways from the Tyson 250 at North Wilkesboro.

1. Kyle Larson joins Mark Martin and Mike Bliss as Truck Series winners at North Wilkesboro

Kyle Larson became the third different driver to win a Truck Series race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. He qualified eighth in the Spire Motorsports #7 Silverado. He took the lead of the race on Lap 102, winning Stage 2 over Carson Hocevar. He surrendered his lead to Bubba Wallace on Lap 225 and reclaimed the lead for the final time on Lap 238.

Larson’s ability to jump into a racecar and immediately be fast is unmatched. Leading 138 of 250 laps on a track that he had never raced on before is unheard of in motorsports. I credit his success this weekend to his ability to find grip on a racetrack and to put his car in those spots. This allows him to make massive gains in speed and go win races. While some will complain about Larson racing in lower divisions, I think this is a positive for both the drivers and the series. Spire Motorsport’s truck team is certainly better with Larson racing the #7 truck. Ty Majeski and other drivers who raced around him learned how to race at North Wilkesboro, and how to have success at that track. This was a great win for Larson and the series as a whole.

2: Matt DiBenedetto gets a third-place finish

Matt DiBenedetto has one career victory in NASCAR with his win in the last truck race at Talladega. At North Wilkesboro, he put his #25 Silverado for Rackley W.A.R. 15th in qualifying. At the end of Stage 2, he earned stage points for finishing sixth. He ran inside the Top 10 during Stage 3, and when the final caution waved with two laps to go, he was in fourth. The final restart allowed him to gain one spot and finish third at North Wilkesboro.

DiBenedetto finished 2022 with one win and one Top 5 finish. Already in 2023, he has almost bested his 2022 statistics. If he can continue this run of solid finishing positions, he can have a good playoff run. He currently sits 10th in the playoff standings following North Wilkesboro.

3: Hocevar, Wallace, and Heim earn great finishes

While Larson dominated, several drivers also had impressive runs at North Wilkesboro Speedway. Corey Heim earned the pole position and lead the first 43 laps, winning Stage 1 over William Byron. Carson Hocevar was next to lead laps. Hocevar, who qualified second behind Heim, led the next 16 laps. Byron took the lead from Hocevar, but Heim took back first position. Heim would lead the next 32 laps before Larson took over. Larson would be bested during his 138 laps to victory by Bubba Wallace. Wallace lead from Lap 225 to Lap 237 and would finish the race in fifth. Corey Heim is now first in points and Hocevar is eleventh.

4: Deegan and Thompson have an on-track run in

While North Wilkesboro was already exciting enough, Hailie Deegan and Dean Thompson contributed to the action on the track. On Lap 185, Deegan made contact with the #5 of Thompson, who had been in previous wrecks. This wreck took Thompson out of the race and left Deegan with significant damage.

Following the race, Thompson was interviewed outside the infield care center, where he thanked his team and sponsors, not commenting on any on-track action. He later posted this on Twitter…

5: Will North Wilkesboro return in 2024?

The crowd at the Truck Series race at North Wilkesboro was the healthiest I have seen at any race this season. Cup Series drivers in the field like Larson, Byron, Christopher BellRoss Chastain, and Wallace challenged the field. While they challenged the field, the already exceptional talent in the Truck Series field rose to the challenge. Larson was clearly the best driver in the field, but he brought out the best of the rest.

It would be a shame if North Wilkesboro didn’t return in 2024. While the track surface was a topic of debate, I believe it greatly improved the on-track product, Matt Crafton found a way to gain time, and he became a truck to beat during the race. What I would do if I was in charge of the 2024 race? More practice time. Hocevar and Majeski might have beaten Larson if they had more time to perfect their setups. Overall, Wilkesboro needs to return, as the Truck Series excels as a short-track series.

The Craftsman Truck Series stays in North Carolina, to race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on May 26th, 2023.

Featured Image Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images