A trio of NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series drivers, including defending series champion Ben Rhodes, Christian Eckes and Corey Heim, participated in a Goodyear Tire Test on Tuesday at historic North Wilkesboro Speedway in preparation for the upcoming Wright Brand 250 on NASCAR All-Star Race weekend.

The Wright Brand 250 on Saturday afternoon, May 18 (1:30 p.m. (ET), FS1, MRN Radio), will get North Wilkesboro fans ready for Sunday night’s main feature, the 2024 NASCAR All-Star Race (8 p.m. (ET), FS1 and MRN Radio). The jam-packed May 14-19 NASCAR All-Star Race week will also include two nights of zMAX CARS Tour late model racing, two concerts and the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear. 

In today’s test, the trio of teams worked closely with Goodyear officials to help identify a tire for Truck teams to use in the Wright Brand 250.  

Completed last November, the resurfacing process included milling approximately two inches of the old track, repairing failing spots, sealing and adding a specially designed asphalt mixture in the same configuration as the original track, including the 13 degrees of banking in the corners. Similar to the process used for the most recent Atlanta Motor Speedway repave, Speedway Motorsports used a special mix that is expected to age faster than traditional asphalt, creating a more “worn-in” surface more quickly.  Carl Rose & Sons Asphalt, the original paving contractor for North Wilkesboro Speedway, supplied nearly 2,000 tons of specialty asphalt for the project, while North Carolina-based Delta Contracting managed the milling process. Summers Taylor, a contractor from nearby Johnson City, Tennessee, used a process called echelon paving to lay a seamless surface across the roughly 50-foot-wide track.

Select quotes on today’s test and racing at North Wilkesboro:

Corey Heim – No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota:
“It’s got a lot of grip, it’s certainly a lot different than last year. I started off the day by running pretty much the exact same line that I did last year on the old pavement, and there’s really no reason to have your entry so straight, and go so straight now with all the grip, you can make it more of a circle and use a lot more race track. It’s going to be tough to see how the race goes. There’s definitely no second groove today, as most repaves are, they’re pretty single-grooved for a while until we work it in. Props to NASCAR for having us work the second groove in I think it’ll help the Cup guys get acclimated and hopefully make it raceable right from the start. Luckily we’ll have some lower series as well that’ll race on it and make it more racy, if you will. We ran the middle in [Turns] 1 and 2 a lot and were still kind of buried on the bottom in [Turns] 3 and 4 like we were last year, but I do think side by side racing is more realistic this year.”

“Just to look around here in the media center and see all the history that they have painted on the walls here, and all the videos that NASCAR came out with the history behind this place, and all the awesome finishes that this place has provided. I think just bringing back another track in North Carolina is huge too, to be able to revive some late model racing in the area, have CARS late models come here and the Southern Super Series last year and some other events. Just to get fans in the stands and people passionate about racing again is the main goal and it’s really cool for me to be able to see that.” 

Ben Rhodes – No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford:
“It’s not even the same race track, and really when we started the day, never having a truck or car or anything run on this place to all the rubber we put on it, it’s not the same race track as eight hours ago. It’s changed a lot, I think it’s rubbered in well. The challenge is considerable, we came here with a totally separate truck, totally separate package, way different thinking, even when we unloaded we were absolute garbage. It took us quite some time to get dialed in, but those other guys were fast right off the bat, we got dialed in and I think we’re comparable on speeds now. So I feel really good about that.”

“I really don’t appreciate it like I should. I know there’s tremendous history here, am I an expert in it, no way. I know from what we raced here, which was last year, and I’ve seen before and after photos of the immense amount of work it took to make this all possible, and I think that’s absolutely amazing, we had a packed house which was absolutely amazing. I like the excitement around it, I appreciate the effort to make this a track that fans want to come to and that everybody looks forward to. We need that and I think everybody did a really good job.”

“I did not care for the racing in the Truck Series here last year. I'm really glad that we have had the repave. Just because the surface was so old, it just needed new asphalt. I think the racing is just going to get better and better with time, so what I'll tell the fans is if you see a race this year that's really high pace, a lot of aggression, you know, that's going to change year over year. It's going to become more of that old-school Wilkesboro that you're going to see. So it's going to get better with time. It's going to get better with age. It's going to be like a fine wine. But until then, you're going to see something very unique at Wilkesboro right now, which is high-paced, high-speed racing. It's going to be more like a super late model race in the Truck Series.” 

Christian Eckes – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet:
“It was super cool last year and now with the new pavement this year I think it will be even better. I know a lot of people wanted it to stay, but it wasn’t a very good race in my opinion last year so to see that change is good. Just the history of this place coming in here and knowing the legends that have raced here, is pretty cool.” 

“I think a better race. The top was nonexistent last year and I felt like just those thirty, forty laps we ran got it better and got it competitive, competitive enough to race. I think it’s going to be a lot of passing compared to last year, but I really like what they’ve done so far.” 

NASCAR All-Star Race week will include five days or nights of entertainment at North Wilkesboro Speedway including:

  • Tuesday, May 14: zMAX CARS Tour
  • Wednesday, May 15: zMAX CARS Tour
  • Friday, May 17:  All-Star Friday presented by Raymer Oil NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck and Cup Series practice; the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge presented by Mechanix Wear; Neal McCoy concert
  • Saturday, May 18: NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series qualifying and Wright Brand 250; NASCAR Cup Series qualifying heat races
  • Sunday, May 19: Warren Zeiders pre-race concert; NASCAR All-Star Open and NASCAR All-Star Race 

Schedules are tentative and subject to change. Specific on-track schedules will be released at a later date.