RALEIGH. N.C. — The NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race will remain at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 2024 after this year's event — the first race for NASCAR there in 27 years — attracted a capacity crowd thrilled to return to stock car roots.
State legislators joined NASCAR and track executives on Thursday at the North Carolina Legislative Building for the announcement, which keeps the .625-mile (1-kilometer) asphalt oval, located almost 160 miles (258 kilometers) west of Raleigh, on the Cup Series schedule for another year.
The May 19 non-points exhibition race remains in its traditional slot on the weekend before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps said the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro and the circuit's first street race, held in Chicago, were the signature events of 2023 during NASCAR's 75th anniversary season.
“Neither of those events disappointed,” Phelps said. “We are so thrilled to be coming back with the All-Star Race.”
North Wilkesboro was one of NASCAR's original venues, hosting more than 90 Cup races before it closed in 1996 as the circuit sought to build popularity in other markets. The oval fell into disrepair until Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr., local boosters, and state officials pushed efforts to rejuvenate the track.
Federal and state funds helped complete renovations, resulting in the September 2022 announcemen t that it would return in 2023.
NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports, which owns both the Charlotte and North Wilkesboro speedways, also said Thursday that North Wilkesboro will be repaved for the first time since 1981 in time for next year's race.
Kyle Larson dominated this year's race, which was held before 35,000 fans on the patched-up asphalt track, on the way to the $1 million prize in the winner-take-all event.
The final state budget taking effect next week includes an additional $4 million for the speedway to perform repairs and improvements as long as it agreed to host one more NASCAR Series race there by the end of 2028.
The 2024 All-Star Race satisfies that requirement, according to state Rep. Jason Saine, a top budget-writer.
“It’s right to be in North Carolina. It feels great to have it in North Carolina,” Saine told reporters, “and it means that tourists are going to come from everywhere and spend a week in North Carolina spending dollars.”
Gov. Roy Cooper also has been a big supporter of returning NASCAR to North Wilkesboro and attended this year's race.
Phelps said that “feeling the love from from the state and its politicians is really important, and it influences decisions that we make.”
It's unclear whether Thursday's announcement improves North Wilkesboro's chances for a return to a regular stop on the points race schedule. Phelps said that holding races in non-traditional markets attracts those who have never attended a NASCAR race before.
“We want to make sure that we stay tied to the history and the DNA and the roots of NASCAR, but continue to push the boundaries on bringing our sport to different places,” he said.
The All-Star Race originally started in 1985 and was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway every year except 1986, when Atlanta Motor Speedway was the venue. The event returned to Charlotte until 2021, when it was held for two years at Texas Motor Speedway.
Speedway Motorsports this year moved it to North Wilkesboro. The All-Star Race has only ever been held at venues owned by Speedway Motorsports.
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