Kyle Larson wasn’t even scheduled to compete in Saturday’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at North Wilkesboro, getting the call to replace Alex Bowman in the No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado for Spire Motorsports.
However, thanks to a dominant performance in the Tyson 250, the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion will have his name etched into the history books, as NASCAR’s first winner upon returning to North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Leading a race-high 138 laps in Saturday’s 250-lap contest at North Wilkesboro, Larson was able to overcome an eighth-place starting position to secure the lead of the event in the second stage.
After taking the lead away from Corey Heim, who started the race from the pole, it was clear that Spire Motorsports had brought Larson an extremely fast truck, which the 21-time NASCAR Cup Series winner put on display with ease.
The Elk Grove, California-native would continue on to lead the race’s next 123 laps, until a late-race caution – for Conner Jones stopped on-track – brought some bold tire strategies to the surface.
Bubba Wallace, driving the No. 1 for TRICON Garage, stayed on the track with tires that were just under 50 laps old, while Ross Chastain, Hailie Deegan, and select other drivers were on tires that had under 10 laps on them.
Despite a major deficit in tires, Wallace was able to hold on to the lead for 13 circuits around North Wilkesboro Speedway, and Larson and the other trucks on fresh tires charged through the field and back into contention.
On that restart, Matt DiBenedetto was momentarily able to get clear of Kyle Larson on four brand-new tires, but made significant contact with Corey Heim that damaged the right-rear corner of his No. 25 and allowed Larson to move by.
After a battle that carried on for five or so laps, Larson was able to sneak to the inside of Wallace and re-take the top spot, immediately legging out his lead over the trucks behind. That was until a late-race caution for a spin by Christian Eckes.
With the field heading into NASCAR Overtime, Larson restarted on the front row, with Wallace electing to start on the outside lane with even older tires than before. However, a slow restart for Wallace, allowed the No. 7 to blast away with the victory.
The victory, which Larson claimed by 0.974 seconds, was the driver’s third in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 15 starts, and his first victory in the series since 2016 at Eldora.
After making a two-tire strategy call inside the race’s final 25 laps, Ty Majeski recorded a runner-up finish at North Wilkesboro Speedway, snapping a two-race streak of events where ThorSport Racing failed to have a truck inside the top-10.
Matt DiBenedetto finished in third place, marking his second top-five result in the NASCAR Truck Series, and the best finish for Rackley WAR on a non-superspeedway track.
Carson Hocevar finished fourth after starting from second place and leading 16 laps, while Bubba Wallace earned another top-five finish in NASCAR’s National Series, with a fifth-place result in TRICON Garage’s No. 1 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.
Corey Heim, Matt Crafton, Chase Purdy, Ross Chastain, and Grant Enfinger completed the race’s top-10 finishers.
Finishing 12th in the No. 30 for On Point Motorsports, Chris Hacker earned a career-best finish, beating out his previous best of 16th at Martinsville in 2023.
In 14th, Daniel Dye, who has seemingly been around every on-track incident this season, picked up his second top-15 finish in the last three races.
Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, and Rajah Caruth were all relegated to finishes outside of the top-30, after getting collected in a multi-truck melee in the race’s closing stages, totaling their trucks.
Leaving North Wilkesboro, Corey Heim has taken over the lead in the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings, leading by seven markers over Ty Majeski.
Zane Smith, Grant Enfinger, and Christian Eckes round out the top-five in points, as the series heads to its next event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.