Photo: Stephen A. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Super Sub Kyle Larson Dominates NASCAR Truck Race at North Wilkesboro

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – Kyle Larson proved an admirable substitute on Saturday at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Subbing for injured Alex Bowman, who had been scheduled to race the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet, Larson led 138 of 252 laps in winning the Tyson 250 in overtime.

Larson is the first driver to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at revitalized North Wilkesboro in 27 years. The victory was Larson’s third in 15 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series starts.

At the end of the two-lap overtime, Larson beat ThorSport Racing’s Ty Majeski to the finish line by .974 seconds. Matt DiBenedetto ran third, followed by Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and pole winner Corey Heim.

“It was a really fun track there, especially in the truck where you can use the apron and such at both ends,” said Larson, who was making his first Truck Series start of the season. “I had a good time. That was a lot of fun on the long runs.

“I wasn’t supposed to run. Unfortunately, Alex got hurt (in a sprint car accident), and I got the opportunity to run this.”

Larson made the most of his opportunity, dominating the action and charging from sixth after a Lap 228 restart on which the first three cars in the running order stayed on the track during the 11th caution, and fourth place Majeski gained track position with a two-tire pit stop.

On Lap 238, Larson passed Wallace for the lead and held it through one more caution and the overtime. 

Thanks to the pit strategy, Majeski salvaged the runner-up finish.

“Yeah, we just missed it today,” Majeski said. “Sometimes when you’re in the back with nothing to lose, you make gutsy calls, jumping on two tires there, and we were just able to hold off guys who put four tires on. So, a subpar day for us turned into a good finish.”

The race was the first in the series at North Wilkesboro since 1996, when the CRAFTSMAN Trucks ran at the .625-mile short track for the second time. Saturday’s renewal produced a record 12 cautions for 81 laps.

The severest of the on-track incidents came on Lap 201, when the truck of Tyler Ankrum was forced into the outside backstretch wall. As Ankrum slowed, the Chevrolet of Rajah Caruth and the Fords of reigning series champion Zane Smith and Ben Rhodes suffered a chain-reaction collision that eliminated the three trailing trucks.

Before the wreck, Smith had suffered a pit road speeding penalty that sent him to the back of the field. 

“Just a product of what happens when you get put back there,” said Smith, who started the race in the rear of the field because of three failed inspections and had worked his way into the top five before the speeding penalty. 

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – Tyson 250

North Wilkesboro Speedway

North Wilkesboro, North Carolina

Saturday, May 20, 2023

                1. (8)  Kyle Larson(i), Chevrolet, 252.

                2. (3)  Ty Majeski, Ford, 252.

                3. (15)  Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 252.

                4. (2)  Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 252.

                5. (14)  Bubba Wallace(i), Toyota, 252.

                6. (1)  Corey Heim, Toyota, 252.

                7. (18)  Matt Crafton, Ford, 252.

                8. (24)  Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 252.

                9. (12)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 252.

                10. (7)  Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 252.

                11. (4)  William Byron(i), Chevrolet, 252.

                12. (32)  Chris Hacker, Toyota, 252.

                13. (33)  Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 252.

                14. (16)  Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 252.

                15. (6)  Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, 252.

                16. (9)  Christopher Bell(i), Toyota, 252.

                17. (11)  Kaden Honeycutt, Chevrolet, 252.

                18. (31)  Tanner Gray, Toyota, 252.

                19. (22)  Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, 252.

                20. (10)  Hailie Deegan, Ford, 252.

                21. (27)  Taylor Gray #, Toyota, 252.

                22. (34)  Kris Wright, Chevrolet, 252.

                23. (21)  Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 252.

                24. (5)  Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 252.

                25. (13)  Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 252.

                26. (17)  Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 250.

                27. (35)  Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 250.

                28. (28)  Josh Williams(i), Ford, Water Pump, 221.

                29. (30)  Conner Jones, Ford, Electrical, 219.

                30. (20)  Nick Sanchez #, Chevrolet, 213.

                31. (26)  Timmy Hill, Toyota, 211.

                32. (36)  Zane Smith, Ford, Accident, 204.

                33. (19)  Ben Rhodes, Ford, Accident, 202.

                34. (23)  Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, Accident, 200.

                35. (25)  Dean Thompson, Toyota, Accident, 182.

                36. (29)  Johnny Sauter, Ford, Electrical, 153.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  68.769 mph.

Time of Race:  2 Hrs, 17 Mins, 25 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.974 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 81 laps.

Lead Changes:  6 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   C. Heim 1-43;C. Hocevar 44-59;W. Byron(i) 60-69;C. Heim 70-101;K. Larson(i) 102-224;B. Wallace(i) 225-237;K. Larson(i) 238-252.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Kyle Larson(i) 2 times for 138 laps; Corey Heim 2 times for 75 laps; Carson Hocevar 1 time for 16 laps; Bubba Wallace(i) 1 time for 13 laps; William Byron(i) 1 time for 10 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 11,51,61,9,42,52,38,7,4,16

Stage #2 Top Ten: 7,42,38,11,51,25,23,41,1,16

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