Craftsman Truck Series savors packed-house crowd for North Wilkesboro return
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Ty Majeski registered a hard-fought runner-up finish in Saturday afternoon’s Craftsman Truck Series race, unable to quite chase down a victorious Kyle Larson in overtime. He matched his best result of the season, but the atmosphere of a rejuvenated North Wilkesboro Speedway was one aspect that truly held his attention.
“I’m glad you brought that up. I mean, this place is packed. I don’t know that the Truck Series will see a better crowd than this all year,” said Majeski, who was barely 2 years old when the track held its last race. “So, good to see. Hopefully, we can go back to some cool places — Rockingham, here, of course, Milwaukee’s back on our schedule, we went back to IRP (Indianapolis Raceway Park) last year. That place is back, so hopefully, we see a pattern here and keep marching in this direction. It’s fun going to all these short tracks where this series belongs.”
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A near-capacity crowd of some 30,000 filled the historic 0.625-mile track for the Tyson 250, the Truck Series’ first event here since 1996. The celebration marked the venue’s return to NASCAR’s national series rotation, and the hearty fans basked in the circuit’s rebirth.
Among them were the competitors, who battled each other and the rough, well-worn racing surface.
“This is one of the things that I don’t think anybody can complain about,” said 10th-finishing Grant Enfinger. “I think the race put on a great show, too. Very happy that they left this old surface, but to revitalize a historic track, it’s pretty, pretty special to be part of it. Had somewhat of an electric atmosphere, kind of like Eldora (Speedway) used to be for our Truck Series — only amped up a little bit from that. Pretty cool deal what they did.”
The event marked a bit of a history lesson for some of the series’ younger competitors. When Goodyear held a tire test for the truck tour here two months ago, all three of the participating drivers — Corey Heim, Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith — were not born at the time of the track’s closure. “I mean, it’s a bloomin’ travesty they left this place,” said Hocevar, who placed fourth.
Some of North Wilkesboro’s character was also new to the 30-year-old Larson, who didn’t know the track’s traditional post-race procedures for winners and their vehicles.
“I wasn’t watching races when I was 4 years old, either, so I didn’t know how Victory Lane worked,” Larson said. “I didn’t know that you ride this elevator up. That’s honestly probably the coolest Victory Lane I’ve ever been in.”
For the Truck Series regulars, the cool factor was only matched by what was likely the tour’s biggest attendance figure this year.
“This might be it right here,” Majeski said. “That’s pretty damn cool, so hopefully, we put on a good show.”