$1,000,000 on the line!
The NASCAR Cup Series returns to the historic and revived North Wilkesboro Speedway for the first time in 27 years for its most ”All or Nothing” event of the year…
The All-Star Race!
Points? Doesn’t matter. Solid runs? They couldn’t care less. Runner-up finish? Sickening! All that matters is etching your name into NASCAR history, taking home that copper moonshine still trophy, and cashing in that cool $1 million check.
This legendary .0625 mile track has been brought back to life and is ready to provide a ton of excitement for one of the Cup Series’ biggest weekends. It’s a grueling track where tires will wear, tempers will flare, and we even get to go up and down hill (slightly).
There’s no better way to spend your Sunday evening than watching NASCAR’s best throw it down at what will be one of their toughest tests. Let’s do this.
Driver to Fade:
Since winning the Daytona 500 to kick off last season, we haven’t heard much from Austin Cindric. He hasn’t consistently competed for wins, and he seems to be learning how tough the Cup Series grind is. He hasn’t finished better than 19th over the course of the last 7 races, and it’s been 24 races since his last top 5. I don’t predict things are going to get much better for him this weekend. A track as rough as this one, I expect it’ll be another learning curve in Cindric’s young Cup career.
It feels right, doesn’t it? NASCAR returns to its grassroots at North Wilkesboro Speedway, and the famed #3 that Dale Earnhardt took to victory lane 5 times on this very same track has another good run this weekend. Austin Dillon has had a very rough season. In fact, he’s only had 3 top 10’s on the seasons and the last time I was on tap for predictions, he was the driver I picked to fade. But after another tough outing at Darlington last weekend, I expect Dillon to turn it around and have a nice showing in this All-Star Race. It feels like a special weekend for RCR with the history and revival of this legendary track. A good showing, even in a non-points race, can help get Austin Dillon’s season pointed in the right direction.
This is a layup. While Kyle Busch and his RCR team haven’t had the pace on the shorter tracks this year, there’s one thing we all know for certain. Kyle Busch can wheel a racecar. That alone will have Rowdy in the mix at a track that is so depending on driver. North Wilkesboro fits the Kyle Busch driving style, and the #8 Chevy is going to be a factor in this race. Kyle already has an All-Star Race victory on his Hall of Fame resume, and will certainly be in contention to add another one. As stated above with his teammate Austin Dillon, this figures to be a special weekend for car owner Richard Childress. I think Busch getting a top 10 is the safest bet of the week.
With no previous Cup racing from North Wilkesboro Speedway for this current field to base a prediction off of, we’ll have to revisit a few other recent “firsts” to give it our best guess. That’s why I’m rolling with 2016 All-Star Race Winner Joey Logano and his Team Penske #22 Ford. When NASCAR returned to their dirt roots at Bristol Motor Speedway a couple years ago, it was Joey Logano that won that inaugural race in Thunder Valley. And then when NASCAR decided to build a racetrack inside of the LA Coliseum to run a new and unique version of “The Clash”, it was once again the defending Cup Champion that kicked off the season with a trip to victory lane. Combining his undeniable talent no matter the style of racing, his aggression level, and with the fact he appears to have a knack for accomplishing “firsts”, I feel good about Joey Logano grabbing his second career All-Star Race victory.