HighPoint.com Driver Chase Briscoe Ready To Get His Game On at Revamped North Wilkesboro Speedway
- Event: NASCAR All-Star Race (non-points race)
- Time/Date: 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 21
- Location: North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway
- Layout: .625-mile oval
- Laps/Miles: 200 laps/125 miles
- TV/Radio: FS1 / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
For only the second time in its 39-year history, the NASCAR All-Star Race is taking place at a short track. And it’s not just any short track. It’s North Wilkesboro Speedway, a NASCAR original built in 1946 – first as a five-eighths mile dirt oval where whiskey runners displayed their skill behind the wheel, along with their mechanical acumen for building cars that were faster than those of the revenuers, and two years ahead of NASCAR’s first season and three years before the first Strictly Stock (now Cup Series) race was held.
Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, was born in 1994, almost two years before the .625-mile oval located in the hills of Wilkes County, North Carolina, held what many believed was its last NASCAR Cup Series race – Sept. 29, 1996 when Jeff Gordon beat Dale Earnhardt by 1.73 seconds to win the Tyson Holly Farms 400.
After that, North Wilkesboro went dormant for 25 years, save for a one-year respite in 2010 when local investors cleaned it up enough to host a handful of grassroots Late Model racing series before the track closed again in the spring of 2011.
Once a staple of the NASCAR Cup Series when Winston cigarettes was its title sponsor, North Wilkesboro was cast aside, despite hosting 93 Cup Series races since 1949. But thanks to an $18 million cash infusion from the state as part of the American Rescue Plan, as well as another seven-figure spend by track operator Speedway Motorsports, North Wilkesboro has been revived, and the resto-mod of racetracks is ready for NASCAR’s return Sunday night with the All-Star Race.
It will be Briscoe’s second appearance in the non-points event, with the 28-year-old driver earning his way into the race via his win on March 13, 2022 at Phoenix Raceway.
“The All-Star Race is one of those races you want to have a chance to compete in when you get to the Cup Series, but if you don’t go into it knowing you’ve already got your spot, you know it’s going to be a pretty big task to earn your spot. Everyone wants to be a part of it,” Briscoe said.
Briscoe is one of the 22 drivers already locked into the All-Star Race. Two 60-lap heat races on Saturday night will determine the starting lineup for Sunday’s main event – a 200 lapper with a competition break at or around lap 100. Those eligible for the All-Star Race include drivers who won a points event in either 2022 or 2023, drivers who won an All-Star Race and compete fulltime, and drivers who won a NASCAR Cup Series championship and compete fulltime.
Despite the exclusive field and different format, Briscoe’s mentality for the All-Star Race remains the same.
“You race the same way. Points or not, you want to win. That’s why we do this,” Briscoe said. “It’s the same mentality we’ve got every race. You want to be the best and win, and if we can find something that works for us, we might be able to take that somewhere else and capitalize on it for another win.”
A win in the All-Star Race pays $1 million.
“The All-Star Race is one that a lot of guys want to win, already,” Briscoe said. “Now, it’s on a track that is so important to NASCAR’s history. It’s a good combination that should put on a good show.”
Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway hosted the first All-Star Race and 34 in total. The All-Star Race debuted on May 25, 1985 at Charlotte’s 1.5-mile oval and it was won by Darrell Waltrip. Atlanta Motor Speedway hosted the second All-Star Race in 1986 before returning to Charlotte for a 33-race run. The 2020 All-Star Race was held at the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway – the first time the All-Star Race wasn’t held at a 1.5-mile oval. The All-Star Race returned to a 1.5-mile oval in June 2021 when Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth began hosting the All-Star Race for a two-year stretch. North Wilkesboro marks only the second time the All-Star Race has been held at anything other than a 1.5-mile oval.
“This has been something I’ve really been looking forward to,” Briscoe said. “I’m still such a big fan of NASCAR and it’s been really cool to see a lot of the NASCAR 75th anniversary stuff, and now we’re going back to North Wilkesboro. That’s big for the sport. Guys like Dale (Earnhardt) Jr., have worked hard to get us back there and I’m excited to see the Cup cars out there and to be a part of it. I know it’ll be an exciting race.”
Learn more about the HighPoint and Chase Briscoe partnership here.