WILEKSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — NASCAR Cup Series cars were on track at the North Wilkesboro Speedway again for the first time since the last race there in October of 1996. Tuesday’s return to high speed on the track was for a Goodyear tire test ahead of the much anticipated NASCAR All-Star race on May 21.

Cup Series drivers Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher and Tyler Reddick wheeled their race cars around the track testing setups and tire combinations to help Goodyear dial in the exact tire compounds that will be used for the race.

Most of the drivers get to participate in these tests at some point during the season at different tracks on the schedule, but the three in this test know this one gives them at bit of a head start on the All-Star weekend while the other drivers could only be a bit jealous.

“I’m pretty sure they’re probably a little upset that there’s only three of us in it, but they get tests to go other places that we’re racing for points. I was excited to come here because…it’s it’s nice to go race for $1 million,” said Austin Dillon, driver of the number three car at Richard Childress Racing. 

The All-Star race is nearly sold out and will be packed come race weekend. Because of the history of this track and all of the anticipation around it, it’s extra special for the drivers.

“I’ve always really enjoyed going back and watching the races,” said Tyler Reddick, driving the number 45 for 23XI Racing. “Never, never thought I get to race (here) in real life, so for me…I’m pretty young…still this place is really special.” 

Austin Dillon’s family history here runs deep.

“My dad raced here. He was able to win a late model race here…for me as a kid, I’ve always driven by here and kind of looked at this place as a ghost because I don’t just don’t remember the times that we’ve had here. But I’ve heard it from my family, the friends, my grandfather,” Dillon said. 

Driver of the number 17 car at RFK Racing, Chris Buescher said it’s really nice how the revival of North Wilkesboro happened over the last few years.

“There’s a lot of young drivers that have no clue why this is a big deal, and I’m kind of right there in the middle that I understand how awesome this place has been in the past, what it has meant to our sport, how many hall of famers that have made laps and won races at this track,” Buescher said. 

The All Star race will be the culmination of a week of racing and entertainment, including Late Model races early in the week and the NASCAR Truck Series race on Saturday before the All-Star Race Sunday with concerts and fan events scattered throughout the week.

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