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Drivers Pleased With North Wilkesboro Repave, Tire Fall Off so Far

All three drivers who took part in NASCAR's Goodyear Tire Test at North Wilkesboro Speedway were happy with how the newly repaved track surface looked and felt on Wednesday.


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NASCAR conducted a Goodyear tire test at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Wednesday, where one representative from each manufacturer in the NASCAR Cup Series had a chance to crank out laps around the 0.625-mile repaved short track.

Joe Gibbs Racing's Ty Gibbs, who was the Toyota representative at the test said roughly 10 different tire compounds were tested out before Goodyear settled on what would likely be the tire used for the NASCAR All-Star Race in May.

Team Penske's Joey Logano says he is pleased with the amount of tire falloff shown in the session, which is usually one of the biggest struggles with a brand-new track surface.

And all three drivers, who participated in the test expressed that they are hopeful that the track widens out to more than a one-lane track as the All-Star Race weekend is in full swing. Just by the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series teams taking laps the day before, Logano felt the track was at a position where he and his team could actually learn things off the truck.

“Anytime you have a repave, it takes a while to burn the track in, which the trucks helped with that a lot yesterday, it seems like," Logano explained. “We were able to fire off today with a track today that was testable. Like, you could actually learn some things, which was good. Obviously, whenever there is a repave, wherever the cars are running is going to be the fast lane, and when you get out of that, it’s going to be ice until you get cars running too wide out there and you get the races going. [Then] I expect it to widen out a little bit and help that part of it.”

The North Wilkesboro Speedway track, which laid mostly dormant from the end of the 1996 season until its revival late in 2023, had not been repaved since the 1981 season.

Needless to say, going from a 43-year-old track surface to a fresh one is a massive change. One that Hendrick Motorsports' William Byron, who was the Chevrolet representative at the test, thinks could lead to complete chaos during the All-Star Race.

“I think it being a short track it would probably be a lot like Richmond was when they repaved it, so I don’t know, I vividly have seen some of those races and I feel like it was pretty treacherous,” Byron recalled, “a lot of guys would get in crashes or there would be a lot of restart wrecks, so I think the racing could actually be pretty exciting with a repave on a short track, but yeah you won’t have the style of comers and goers I don’t think. The guys who are up toward the front will be racing hard and there’s probably just going to be more wrecks.”

Will the repaved North Wilkesboro Speedway produce side-by-side racing out of the box? Will there be mayhem? That all remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, the track repave was done beautifully.

“You just look at the track, and you can just look at it. It’s not different. It doesn’t look like a puzzle,” Gibbs said. “Like there are some tracks on the schedule that they did repaves at that just looks like a mess out there. They did such a great job, so, kudos to them.”

The other main question, which comes up anytime there is a repave of an iconic facility known for its character in the track surface, was the track repaved in an ultra-smooth glass-like manner? If you're worried about that with North Wilkesboro -- don't be. The track still has plenty of character.

“That’s something that made this racetrack so cool in the past. It had a lot of character, it was bumpy, and you’re forced to move around them because it’s challenging,” Logano explained. “You make the thing like glass, I don’t know if that really makes racing better. I think the fact that it has a couple of bumps, and some areas where drivers can make mistakes, and jump out of the groove and do different things, it’s just going to promote passing, and that’s a good thing.”

It'll be interesting to see what type of race the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway becomes on Sunday, May 19. But one thing is for sure, the three drivers, who had a chance to take laps on Wednesday, were fans of what they saw.

Photo Credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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