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Drivers to watch at North Wilkesboro Speedway

Nate Ryan and Kyle Petty recap William Byron's win at Darlington and discuss the likelihood of Byron being able to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship down the road.

NASCAR’s long-awaited return to North Wilkesboro Speedway finally arrives this weekend.

Sunday’s All-Star Race might be one of the most unpredictable events of the season. The Cup Series hasn’t raced at North Wilkesboro since 1996, when Jeff Gordon, now long retired, won the season’s second race at the track.

MORE: William Byron leads NASCAR Power Rankings

Eight drivers scheduled to race this weekend weren’t born when the Cup Series last raced at North Wilkesboro.

A look at drivers to watch:


Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 1st
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Dover)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 18th (2021)

Chastain a driver to watch? Duh. He’s a driver to watch every week, every lap, every attempted pass. Chastain has been involved in some form of controversy for the past four Cup races, and there’s little reason to think he might be inclined to slow down with big prize money on the line Sunday.

Joey Logano

  • Points position: 12th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Atlanta 1)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 1st (2016)

Logano has finished in the top 10 in the past eight All-Star races, the longest active streak of top 10s. He was fourth last year. He also seems to have a knack for winning new events. He won the first dirt race at Bristol. He won the first Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 10th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Richmond 1, Martinsville 1)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 1st (2019, ’21)

Larson should be among the contenders Sunday. He has won both short track races this season, and Hendrick Motorsports carries a strong All-Star worksheet with a record 10 wins. Larson is the only driver who has won more than one All-Star race over the past 10 events.


Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 7th
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Phoenix 1, Talladega 1)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 1st (2022)

Blaney won last year’s All-Star Race -- and hasn’t won a race since. Last year’s race was held at Texas Motor Speedway, and it had an eventful finish. Blaney took the checkered flag at the same moment a caution flag appeared. He had taken down his window net to begin the victory celebration, but NASCAR ruled that the race wasn’t over, and Blaney held up the window net as he won in overtime.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 9th
  • Best seasonal finish: 2nd (Atlanta 1)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 2nd (three times)

Keselowski has led 120 laps in All-Star races but has stopped short of Victory Lane. He leads all drivers in All-Star starts (14) without a win.

William Byron

  • Points position: 5th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas 1, Phoenix 1, Darlington 1)
  • Best finish in All-Star Race: 7th (2021)

Byron leads all drivers in victories this season with three after Sunday’s Darlington win. Can momentum carry him to his first All-Star victory?