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November 30, 2023

Larson wins Truck race in NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro

Larson wins Truck race in NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro

Larson, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for Spire Motorsports, led 138 of what turned out to be 252 laps but after pitting for new tires under a late-race caution, he had to run down Bubba Wallace to reclaim the lead with 13 laps to go.

A late crash involving Chase Purdy and Christian Eckes sent the race into a two-lap overtime. However, Larson had little trouble holding off Ty Majeski by 0.974 seconds for his first Truck win of the 2023 season.

Larson’s victory in front of a capacity crowd came in the first points-paying race in any NASCAR series since 1996, when Jeff Gordon won the final Cup Series race held at the track.

Following multi-million-dollar renovations by Speedway Motorsports, the track reopened this week to host a week of racing including Late Models, Trucks and Sunday’s All-Star Race.

“That was a really, really great truck. Thanks to this whole team,” Larson said. “That was so much fun to drive and be patient, run different lanes and pick them off one at a time.

“It was really cool and what an awesome crowd, too. I saw people flip me off under yellow for whatever reason, I saw people cheering for me. I enjoyed racing here. What a great atmosphere. I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.”

Matt DiBenedetto finished third, Carson Hocevar was fourth and Wallace fifth.

Completing the top 10 were Corey Heim, Matt Crafton, Purdy, Ross Chastain and Grant Enfinger.

Stage 1
Heim powered past William Byron with one of 70 laps remaining and held on to take the Stage 1 win by 0.400 seconds. Christopher Bell ended up third, Colby Howard was fourth and Hocevar rounded out the top five.

Zane Smith’s No. 38 Ford failed inspection three times and had to start from the rear of the field. He ended the first stage running seventh.

Stage 2
Larson held off Hocevar by 0.127 seconds in a one-lap dash to claim the Stage 2 win. Smith finished third, Heim fourth and Byron rounded out the top five.

A spin by Dean Thompson late in the stage sent all the lead-lap trucks down pit road for new tires and fuel and set up the final restart.

Stage 3
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, a handful of lead-lap trucks pit but Larson stayed on the track and remained in the lead.

As Tanner Gray took the field four-wide, Josh Williams spun on Lap 157 and nearly slammed into the sand barrels to bring out the seventh caution of the race. While under caution, Williams hit Gray’s No. 15 to show his displeasure with the move.

With 75 laps remaining in the race, Larson continued to maintain about a 1-second lead over Hocevar while Heim ran third and Smith fourth.

A caution for a multi-truck wreck involving Hailie Deegan, Thompson and Kris Wright brought all the lead-lap trucks down pit road on Lap 186 for new tires and fuel to make it to the end of the race.

Smith was penalized for speeding and had to restart from the rear of the field. Larson was first off pit road and led the way on the restart with 59 laps to go. Heim was second and Hocevar third.

Eckes shoved Tyler Ankrum up the track off Turn 2 which triggered a chain reaction accident on Lap 201 that also collected Smith, Rajah Caruth and Ben Rhodes.

Chastain elected to pit for new tires under the caution, but Larson remained on the track and in the lead on the restart with 35 to go.

A caution a few laps later sent the remainder of the lead-lap trucks to pit road, but Wallace remained on the track and inherited the lead. On the restart on Lap 228, Wallace was followed by Chastain, Deegan and Majeski, who pit for two tires.

With 15 laps remaining, Larson had powered back to second and set his sights on leader Wallace. Larson finally cleared Wallace to reclaim the lead with 13 laps to go.

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