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“I Did Get Goosebumps”—SMI’s $579-Million-Worth CEO Applauds Dedicated Efforts to Revive Historic NASCAR Track

Published 05/21/2023, 9:56 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series is making landfall at the North Wilkesboro Speedway. The iconic venue is playing host to the annual All-Star Race, and everyone is excited. Having last hosted a race all the way back in 1996, it fell off the calendar for a really long time. Soon, the lack of use led to the track falling into a state of disrepair. However, it has now been restored to its former glory and returned to the Cup Series calendar.

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This was all thanks to a certain Dale Earnhardt Jr, who stepped up to the plate and spearheaded efforts to revitalize the track. Truthfully speaking, his original intention was to restore it for the iRacing simulation platform. However, NASCAR felt that the restoration was good enough to host a race once again. In light of this, the Speedway Motorsports Inc. president, Marcus Smith couldn’t be happier.

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Marcus Smith is thrilled that NASCAR is back at North Wilkesboro

Smith told Claire Lang, “So proud of our whole team. This is really a community effort. A lot of people have been thanking me today. But I can tell you, I’ve done the least amount for everybody who’s been out here working for six months straight.

“It’s just great and I think its a good time for NASCAR as a sport too. I did [get goosebumps looking at the crowd], I see so many smiling faces. Talked to so many people from all over the country. You know, all 50 states are here. It is really cool to see how special this event is to people.”


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The SMI president gave credit where it was due and confessed that his own role was minor. However, he insisted that there were many who tirelessly worked to make this race a reality. Additionally, he was absolutely floored to see the crowd turn up to watch the Truck and Cup cars on the track.


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What to expect from the drivers in the All-Star race?

The bad news is that not all drivers will get a chance to race at North Wilkesboro. As far as the format goes, only drivers who have won in 2022 and 2023, as well as the top two from the All-Star Open race can compete. Another stipulation is that the drivers must be full-time racers. So that rules out Jimmie Johnson and even Dale Jr himself, as cruel as it might be for the fans.

via Imago

Two 60-lap heat races set the field, and the Top 2 finishers in the 100-lap All-Star Open will join them. Finally, one fan-voted driver will complete the grid. The main race is 200 laps long and there is a competition caution after 100 laps. When the race concludes, the race winner will earn $1 million.


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WATCH THIS STORY: “I Mean…”—North Wilkesboro Reviver Dale Earnhardt Jr Gives Verdict on His Participation in the 2023 All-Star Race

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Written by:

Dhruv George


One take at a time

Dhruv George is a Senior Motorsports Writer at EssentiallySports, with an impressive track record of over 13K articles. He not only writes engaging content but regularly connects readers with some of the biggest racing names thanks to his ability to churn out exclusive interviews. From F1 driver Pierre Gasly to Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino, Dhruv has established himself as an authoritative voice in the world of motorsports.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal