North Wilkesboro Speedway will be hosting NASCAR’s All-Star Weekend for the second straight year. The venerable track will see the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series compete on Saturday afternoon with the annual Cup Series All-Star event on Sunday evening.

KESELOWSKI DOES IT AGAIN

Brad Keselowski and Mustang will be forever linked in the NASCAR Cup Series, not once but twice. That’s because when Ford brought Mustang to the Cup Series in 2019, Keselowski was the first driver to win a points race when he took the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Folds of Honor 500 on Feb. 24. He did it again last Sunday at Darlington Raceway by driving the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse to Victory Lane for the first time. Overall, the Mustang brand has 53 wins in NASCAR’s top series with Keselowski posting nine.

CLIMBING THE FORD WIN LIST

Brad Keselowski’s victory at Darlington Raceway on Sunday was his first as a driver/owner at RFK Racing and the 36th of his NASCAR Cup Series career. Of those 36 wins, 27 have been with Ford, a figure that puts him seventh on the manufacturer’s all-time series win list, moving ahead of NASCAR Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Fred Lorenzen.

ALL-TIME FORD CUP SERIES WIN LIST

Ned Jarrett, 43
Bill Elliott, 40
Mark Martin, 35
Dale Jarrett, 30
Joey Logano, 30
David Pearson, 29
Brad Keselowski, 27
Fred Lorenzen, 26
Junior Johnson, 26
Kevin Harvick, 25

FORD’S ALL-STAR LINEUP

There are five Ford drivers guaranteed a place in the All-Star field with additional spots available through the preliminary Open qualifying race and fan vote. Currently, defending series champion Ryan Blaney is joined by Team Penske teammate Joey Logano while the RFK duo of Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher are also included. Michael McDowell, based on his win in Indianapolis last season, rounds out the group.

BRAD KESELOWSKI ON ALL-STAR RACE AFTER DARLINGTON WIN: “It’s a one-week-at-a-time kind of sport. I can tell you that. I’m probably not going to think about the All-Star Race for another day or two, to be quite honest. I’m going to try and enjoy this, and I know the work that comes with it before and after. But it should be good. I like the concept. I like the fact Goodyear is willing to take chances, and they’ve done a great job.”

CHRIS BUESCHER: “You’re going from the absolute extreme of lack of grip to what’s ultimately gonna feel like infinite grip. I would say that you’re gonna be talking about exponentially more braking applied. You’re really gonna change up everything you do there. Speeds are obviously gonna be way, way faster. Throttle time is gonna be way more. You’re gonna turn it back into a horsepower war to some extent, and short track racing it’s not as big of a deal, but you’re gonna be wanting it. I hope that we have enough racetrack to be able to move around and be able to make passes.”

RYAN BLANEY: “It will definitely be a different race with just the new pavement. I didn’t get a test there. I know they had that tire test and I wasn’t a part of it, but it’s gonna be the complete opposite. Last year, you were in super tire conserve mode the whole run hoping it would pay off at the end of that run. This year, I still hope there are still some similarities as far as fall off and stuff like that because that’s what racetracks need and it’s hard to get that with a repave, but I’m curious about the option tire. Hopefully, it does something. I know we tried that in the All-Star Race at Charlotte a few years ago, but it didn’t seem like it had enough of a gap from the option to the primary tire, so we’ll see about this one.”

LOGANO AND KESELOWSKI FINISH 1-2

Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski made All-Star history as they became the first teammates to sweep the top two spots in the All-Star Race when they did it in 2016. Logano came out on top of a side-by-side battle with Kyle Larson in the final two laps, getting clear with just over one lap to go after Larson hit the outside wall coming off turn two. That enabled Keselowski to get the runner-up spot and successfully commemorate the 50th Anniversary of car owner Roger Penske’s career in motorsports. It marked Ford’s 11th All-Star Race win and first in five years since Carl Edwards won in 2011.

ELLIOTT WINS ALL-STAR RACE IN FRONT OF HOMETOWN FANS

The first time Ford won the All-Star Race was in 1986 when Bill Elliott drove his Thunderbird to Victory Lane, but that race is remembered for another trivial fact as well. That marked the first time the event had been run at a track other than Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott’s home track of Atlanta Motor Speedway served as host on Mother’s Day that year, a date NASCAR traditionally does not race. With only 10 cars making up the field, Elliott darted to the lead from his outside front row starting position and never gave it up as he led all 83 laps en route to a popular victory with the fans.

WALTRIP-WOOD FIRST-TIME WINNERS

Michael Waltrip’s win in 1996 marked his first victory in NASCAR’s top division and was the first in the event for Wood Brothers Racing. Waltrip almost didn’t get into the big show because he had to battle it out in the preliminary Winston Open, where he grabbed the final transfer spot by holding off Johnny Benson to finish fifth. That meant he started last in the 20-car main event, which was called the Winston Select. After the first two 30-lap segments had been completed, Waltrip found himself fourth for the final 10-lap shootout. He passed Rusty Wallace for third after an aborted restart, and then was riding behind Dale Earnhardt and Terry Labonte, who were battling side-by-side. As the two entered turn one with eight laps to go, they made contact which slowed them down enough to allow Waltrip to dart to the inside and pass both of them for the lead. He held on the rest of the way to post his first win of any kind in NASCAR’s top division.

RHODES CRACKS TOP 10

Defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes registered his first top-five finish of the season last weekend at Darlington Raceway with a third-place effort and that catapulted him up two spots in the standings to 10th. He joins Ty Majeski (4th) and Matt Crafton (8th) as Ford drivers currently in the top 10.

FORD F-150 AT NORTH WILKESBORO

Mike Bliss won the inaugural NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series event at North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1995 when he led Ford to a sweep of the top three positions. Bliss started 13th and didn’t take the lead until passing Jack Sprague on lap 130 of the 150-lap event. He led the final 21 circuits to post the first of his 13 career series victories while Butch Miller finished second and Geoffrey Bodine third. Mark Martin followed that up in 1996 by leading the final 73 laps to post his first win in the series. That completed the NASCAR series trifecta of winning at least one race in the sport’s top three divisions for Martin, and completed an event that saw Ford have four of the top five finishers.

Ford Performance PR