Suarez Hot in All-Star Heat 1
(NORTH WILKESBORO, NC – MAY 20, 2023 – RIS)Daniel Suarez won the first qualifying heat for the 2023 NASCAR All-Star race, setting a handful of precedents by racing an entire race on an oval with rain tires mounted and the first Cup race on North Wilkesboro Speedway’s 0.625-mile uphill-downhill oval since 1996.
Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott pulled out at the head of the field for the first heat race for the 2023 NASCAR All-Star race under cloudy skies and on a damp track with Goodyear’s wet weather tires mounted. NASCAR planned on a non-competitive stop to allow teams to change to slick tires. The finish of tonight’s race determines the starting order for the All-Star race Sunday night.
Chase Elliott tried a brave high entry to gain the lead over Suarez as the wet weather tires allowed drivers to race in the outside line, compared to inside only on a dry track and lap times were about a tenth of a second quicker than in practice.
Elliott gave up the lead just before the midpoint of the 60-lap race, with Suarez driving out to a lead of two seconds and NASCAR called a caution on lap 32 to allow the teams to change to fresh wet weather tires after numerous drivers were complaining about excessive tire wear.
With the restart mandated to be in the running order at the time of the caution, Logano swept low around Elliott, followed by Chase Briscoe, Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin all following around Elliott before Elliott could get back into line.
Suarez crossed the finish line just over a second and a half ahead of second-place Joey Logano, earning the front position in the inside row of the All-Star race Sunday evening.
“We tried to make it a little better – it was interesting – the tire was really nice,” said Elliott.
NASCAR All-Star Race Heat 1, May 20, 2023 - North Wilkesboro Speedway
Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, Status, Times Led, Laps Led
1) 1, Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Trackhouse Motorplex Chevrolet, 60, Running, 1, 34
2) 3, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 60, Running, ,
3) 5, Chase Briscoe, No. 14 HighPoint.com Ford, 60, Running, ,
4) 10, Christopher Bell, No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota, 60, Running, ,
5) 4, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Yahoo! Toyota, 60, Running, ,
6) 9, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Wrangler Ford, 60, Running, ,
7) 2, Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 60, Running, 1, 26
8) 8, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Busch Light Ford, 60, Running, ,
9) 7, Austin Cindric, No. 2 Keystone Light Ford, 60, Running, ,
10) 6, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevrolet, 60, Running, ,
11) 11, Erik Jones, No. 43 STP Chevrolet, 60, Running, ,
Race Length: 60 Laps - 37.5 Miles
Time of Race: 25 Mins, 23 Secs.
Average Speed: 88.641 MPH
Margin of Victory: 1.529 Seconds
Comments: Daniel Suarez has won the NASCAR All-Star Race Heat 1, his first career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series qualifying event at North Wilkesboro Speedway.
Cautions: 1 for 8 laps; Laps: 34-41 (Track Conditions Changing).
Lead Changes: 2 among 2 drivers;
C. Elliott 1-26;
D. Suarez 27-60.
Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.