NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – Kyle Larson topped the board in a 50-minute practice session for All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway. 

The driver of the No. 5 Chevy posted a fast lap of 109.144 mph to lead the way at the .625-mile track. Larson’s two wins in 2023 have come on short tracks – Richmond Raceway and Martinsville Speedway.  

William Byron placed seventh with a lap of 107.831 mph in the No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Byron had the best 10-consecutive lap average in the session. Victorious last Sunday at Darlington Raceway, the Charlotte, North Carolina, native is a three-time winner in 2023. He finished second in the ASA STARS National Tour race on Wednesday night. Both Byron and Larson will be running Saturday afternoon's NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series event.

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Chase Elliott placed 21st in the session in the No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevy. As a 14-year-old, he visited victory lane at the short track in a PASS South Super Late Model event on September 4, 2010, in the first race the track had hosted since the mid ‘90s. Elliott participated in the ASA STARS National Tour event at the track this week, where he finished in third.

Josh Berry was 27th in practice in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. This is Berry’s fourth week filling for the injured Alex Bowman, who remains sidelined with a fractured vertebra. Earlier this week, the 32-year-old from Hendersonville, Tennessee, served as a crew chief in a CARS Tour race at this track for JR Motorsports co-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The All-Star Race marks the first Cup Series action at the .625-mile track in 27 years. North Wilkesboro hosted 93 Cup Series races from 1949 to 1996 and is the fifth track to host the all-star event. The Rick Hendrick-owned organization swept the final season of points-paying races as part of its four wins at the facility. Jeff Gordon won the last Cup Series race to date there on Sept. 29, 1996. Terry Labonte won the spring races in 1994 and 1996 and Geoff Bodine won the fall race in 1989.

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During a media availability on Friday afternoon, Elliott noted the anticipation for this particular event. 

"It definitely seems like there’s a lot of excitement across the board I think for a lot of reasons," Elliott said. "This was a place that we probably thought that we weren’t ever going to see again. I know when I raced here in 2010 that was their first attempt to revive it. … I figured that was the end. I think everyone was surprised that this happened. It was talked about a lot, but I think just the surprise that this is here is a good thing."

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Hendrick Motorsports has won the All-Star Race 10 times, which leads all organizations and is more than double of all the teams tied for second (at four wins). Five drivers have accounted for Hendrick Motorsports’ all-star victories, which is also the most among all teams. Jimmie Johnson leads the way with four wins (2003, 2006, 2012 and 2013), which is also the most among all drivers in all-star history. Gordon is next with three wins (1995, 1997 and 2001) and he is also the youngest winner of the event at 23 years, 9 months and 16 days. Labonte (1999), Elliott (2020) and Larson (2021) each have won the event once with the organization. The Johnson, Gordon and Labonte victories all came at Charlotte Motor Speedway, while Elliott won at Bristol Motor Speedway and Larson won at Texas Motor Speedway. 

Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series drivers will be the Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear at 5:45 p.m. ET (FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-Channel 90). On Saturday night (starting at 7:20 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-Channel 90), Byron, Elliott and Larson will take part in one of the two 60-lap heat races to determine the starting lineup for the All-Star Race. The results of the first heat will set the inside lane for the All-Star Race, while the results of the second heat will set the outside lane. 

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Berry will race in Sunday's All-Star Open (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-Channel 90), which is a 100-lap race with a competition break around lap 40 and look to be one of the top-two finishers to transfer into the main event. The All-Star Race on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio-Channel 90) will be 200 laps with a competition break at or around lap 100. Following the competition break, only one additional set of sticker tires can be used. The winner of the event will take home $1 million.