Berry wins 100-lap Open, advances to All-Star race along with Gibbs, Gragson
By STEVE REED
NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) Josh Berry won the All-Star Open at North Wilkesboro Speedway to earn a spot in Sunday night’s All-Star race and a chance to compete for $1 million.
Ty Gibbs, who finished second, and fan vote winner Noah Gragson also advanced to the night race to round out the field of 24 drivers competing in the non-points exhibition race.
Berry, Gibbs and Gragson will start at the back of the field.
Daniel Suarez and Chris Buescher will start on the front row for the All-Star race after winning their 60-lap heats on Saturday night, when NASCAR experimented for the first time with wet weather tires on Cup Series cars.
Twenty-one drivers had previously qualified for the All-Star race before ever arriving at the track this week based on their past accomplishments, including two-time All-Star race winners Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson.
But Berry and Gibbs had to race their way into their first career All-Star race in the 100-lap Open, a precursor to the main event.
“I think the two best cars made it, so I think we will see what happens tonight,” Berry said.
Berry said the race was “way crazier than expected” as drivers struggled to control their cars on the track with tires wearing down quickly on the old patched asphalt track.
Berry took the lead with 23 laps remaining when he passed Gibbs on the apron on the inside of the track.
There were two crashes in the Open race, including one involving Michael McDowell and Justin Haley, who were both running in the top five at the time before Gibbs bumped McDowell.
Gragson was also involved in a crash early when he hit the inside wall and took out three other cars.
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Updated May 21, 2023