Saturday June 3rd, 2023 11:41AM

Farewell tour hits home for Harvick at North Wilkesboro

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – Before this weekend, Kevin Harvick had never raced a NASCAR Cup Series car at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Nevertheless, when he arrived at the .625-mile short track for his final NASCAR All-Star Race, Harvick felt the reality of his final season in NASCAR’s top division set in.

It wasn’t the track itself that gave Harvick pause. It was the car number he is driving through an agreement between Stewart-Haas Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Harvick is behind the wheel of the No. 29, the car number he drove to his first Cup victory in 2001, just three weeks after taking over the RCR ride following the death of Dale Earnhardt.

“Yeah, I think this is the first one where I was like, ‘Oh, man. This is a big moment,’” Harvick said. “Just with the 29 and seeing how excited Richard is to see it on the track and all the things that come with those 14 years with RCR and being able to actually do this is a pretty big moment.

“I think that the coolest part about it is the fact that the two companies worked together and being able to have the respect of Richard and everyone there to be able to actually let them have us do this is something that means a lot.”

Harvick drives a Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. Childress fields Chevrolets and controls the number 29, which historically has been in his stable.

“It’s more the car than the track for me,” Harvick said. “I’m honored to be here, and I think it’s a great event, but to understand and see how important this particular number and paint scheme, I mean it really caught me off guard, too.

“I almost had to re-learn the importance and the impact of that particular moment in our sport because, like I said earlier, there’s more to it than the paint scheme and the number. It’s really a moment in NASCAR that means something to people that aren’t even fans of yours or Earnhardt…

“I know that car on the racetrack one more time is important to a lot of fans, so it’s a great moment for the car and the track to do all of that together.”

Hurricanes Fan William Byron Got More Hockey Than He Expected

William Byron planned to go to a hockey game. He wasn’t prepared for a marathon.

An ardent Carolina Hurricanes fan, Byron traveled to Raleigh by helicopter — courtesy of team owner Rick Hendrick — to watch the ‘Canes play the Florida Panthers in Thursday night’s opening game of the NHL’s Eastern Conference finals.

After three periods, the game was tied at 2 and headed for overtime. Florida scored the ostensible game winner in the first overtime period, only to have the goal rescinded under challenge for goalie interference.

The first overtime ended after 20 extra minutes, and Byron left with the game still in the balance.

“Unfortunately, we had to leave early,” he said on Friday before driving his No. 24 Chevrolet on pit road during the Pit Crew Challenge.

“I was there through the first overtime and watched the end of the game (at home). That’s why my voice sounds the way it does. I watched it and it was tough. Four overtimes, and it was about 2 in the morning. We’ll move on to the next game, I guess. They played really hard. I got some inspiration from watching that, definitely.”

The game didn’t end the way Byron would have liked. With 12.7 seconds left in the fourth overtime, Matthew Tkachuk slapped home the game winner for the Panthers, ending the sixth longest game in NHL history.

Who Says There’s No Grip In The North Wilkesboro Asphalt?

Conventional wisdom would have you believe there’s very little grip in the worn-out asphalt at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Ryan Preece would beg to differ, and his opinion is based on a modified race he ran at the track last August.

“I mean, this place had a ton of grip,” said Preece, who finished fourth in the modified event. “A lot of a people will compare Myrtle Beach as one of those tracks we had on the East Coast that has no grip. If you decide to go, you’re just going to burn your stuff up, but it never had grip.

“This place, it has tons of grip. But you’re going to pay the price if you choose to go after it. So that’s what I thought was very unique about this race track. It just destroys tires. But at the same time, you can, if you choose to go. Hard. You can go hard.”

WDUN will carry live MRN Radio coverage of Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series All Star Race from North Wilkesboro Speedway beginning at 5 pm on 102.9 FM, AM 550 and streaming live on AccessWDUN.

NASCAR Cup Series
North Wilkesboro Speedway – North Wilkesboro, NC
NASCAR All-Star Race – May 21, 2023

Sunday’s Starting Line Up

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1. 99 Daniel Suarez Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
2. 17 Chris Buescher Fastenal Ford 0.000 0.000
3. 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford 0.000 0.000
4. 3 Austin Dillon BREZTRI Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
5. 14 Chase Briscoe Ford 0.000 0.000
6. 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
7. 20 Christopher Bell Interstate Batteries Toyota 0.000 0.000
8. 6 Brad Keselowski Nexlizet Ford 0.000 0.000
9. 11 Denny Hamlin Yahoo! Toyota 0.000 0.000
10. 23 Bubba Wallace Columbia Sportswear Company Toyota 0.000 0.000
11. 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Wrangler Ford 0.000 0.000
12. 19 Martin Truex, Jr. Bass Pro Shops Toyota 0.000 0.000
13. 9 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
14. 8 Kyle Busch Thorntons Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
15. 29 Kevin Harvick Busch Light Ford 0.000 0.000
16. 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
17. 2 Austin Cindric Keystone Light Ford 0.000 0.000
18. 1 Ross Chastain Worldwide Express Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
19. 47 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
20. 45 Tyler Reddick The Beast Unleashed Toyota 0.000 0.000
21. 43 Erik Jones STP Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
22. Open Winner
23. Open Runner-Up
24. Fan Vote Winner

NASCAR Cup Series
North Wilkesboro Speedway – North Wilkesboro, NC
NASCAR All-Star Open – May 21, 2023

Sunday’s Starting Line Up

Pos Car Driver Team Time Speed
1. 54 Ty Gibbs # Monster Energy Toyota 0.000 0.000
2. 48 Josh Berry(i) Ally Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
3. 7 Corey LaJoie Schluter Systems Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
4. 21 Harrison Burton Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford 0.000 0.000
5. 31 Justin Haley LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
6. 34 Michael McDowell Fr8Auctions Ford 0.000 0.000
7. 38 Todd Gilliland Boot Barn Ford 0.000 0.000
8. 41 Ryan Preece Ford 0.000 0.000
9. 10 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 0.000 0.000
10. 16 A.J. Allmendinger Campers Inn RV Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
11. 78 Josh Bilicki(i) Zeigler Auto Group Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
12. 77 Ty Dillon NationsGuard Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
13. 13 Chandler Smith(i) Quick Tie Products Inc. Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
14. 51 Ryan Newman Biohaven/Jacob Co. Ford 0.000 0.000
15. 42 Noah Gragson # Sunseeker Resort Chevrolet 0.000 0.000
16. 15 J.J. Yeley(i) VDL Strong/ Ford 0.000 0.000

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

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