Suarez, Buescher claim front row starting spots for 2023 All-Star Race

Daniel Suarez won the pole position for the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race and will share the front row with Chris Buescher after both won a Heat Race qualifying event that determined the official starting lineup for the main event at North Wilkesboro Speedway on Saturday, May 20.  

The starting lineup for the two Heat races consisting of 60 laps was determined through NASCAR’s Pit Crew Challenge that occurred on Friday, May 19, with the drivers’ qualifying time determined based on their respective crew’s pit stop time through a four-tire pit stop and the timing lines being established one box behind and ahead of the designated pit box. The teams who delivered the fastest pit services would enable their respective entries to start towards the front of the two All-Star Heat Races or the All-Star Open.

Following the pit stops, rookie Ty Gibbs’ No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew won the Pit Crew Challenge after the team posted the fastest pit service overall in 13.012 seconds. Gibbs, however, is currently not locked into the All-Star Race and will look to race his way into the main event while on pole position in the All-Star Open that will occur on Sunday, May 21, prior to the All-Star feature. As a result, Daniel Suarez’s No. 99 Trackhouse Racing pit crew led by crew chief Travis Mack placed the former Xfinity Series champion from Monterrey, Mexico, on pole position for the first Heat Race after posting the second-fastest pit service overall, but first as an eligible competitor, in 13.297 seconds.

During the first Heat Race, which determined the official starting lineup of the inside rows for the All-Star feature, Suarez, who lost the lead to Chase Elliott at the start, led the final 34 of 60-scheduled laps while on wet weather tires amid one caution period and occurrences of precipitation around the circuit to win and claim pole position in the All-Star Star for the first time in his career. As a result, Suarez, a two-time All-Star Open winner whose best result in the All-Star Race is second from 2018, will vie for his first All-Star victory in his fourth attempt on Sunday.

“The car was very fast,” Suarez said on FS1. “I have to thank my guys. I have an amazing team. We have a great group of people. We haven’t been able to show that in the last races, but we’re fast. I can’t thank enough everyone that helps us to get to this point. Just happy to be here and hopefully, we can have a strong performance tomorrow as well.”

Joey Logano settled in second place behind Suarez followed by Chase Briscoe, Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin. Ryan Blaney settled in sixth while Chase Elliott ended up seventh followed by Kevin Harvick, Austin Cindric, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Erik Jones, respectively, all of whom will start on the inside rows for the All-Star event.

Meanwhile, Chris Buescher’s No. 17 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing pit crew placed the former Xfinity Series champion from Prosper, Texas, on pole position for the second Heat Race after posting the third-fastest pit service in 13.381 seconds.

During the second Heat Race, which determined the official starting lineup of the outside rows for the All-Star feature, Buescher led all 60-scheduled laps as he beat runner-up Austin Dillon by more than a second and claim a front-row starting spot (second place) for Sunday’s main event. During Buescher’s dominant victory, the second Heat event also featured a single caution period due to rain and that enabled the teams to switch from starting on slick tires to wet tires. As a result, Buescher, who will be making his third All-Star career start on Sunday, will also vie for his first All-Star victory.

“That was awesome,” Buescher said. “I was so proud of our group. This Fastenal Mustang has been really fast from the time we unloaded off the truck. The pit crew did a fantastic job and put us in a great spot here today. We’re in a good place for the race tomorrow evening. 

“I’m excited. I’m ready for this thing. Let’s go. Let’s go get a million dollars.”

Dillon settled in second followed by William Byron, Brad Keselowski and Bubba Wallace while Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top 10, respectively, all of whom will start on the outside rows for the All-Star Race.

With 21 competitors earning guaranteed starting spots for the 2023 All-Star Race, the remaining three vacant spots for the main event will be determined at the conclusion of the 2023 All-Star Open which will occur prior to the All-Star feature on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET on FS1. With 16 competitors competing in the All-Star Open, the top-two finishers of the Open consisting of 100 laps will transfer to the main event. The 24th and final starting spot will be awarded to the competitor who is named the Fan Vote winner.

All-Star Race Starting Lineup

1. Daniel Suarez

2. Chris Buescher

3. Joey Logano

4. Austin Dillon

5. Chase Briscoe

6. William Byron

7. Christopher Bell

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Denny Hamlin

10. Bubba Wallace

11. Ryan Blaney

12. Martin Truex Jr.

13. Chase Elliott

14. Kyle Busch

15. Kevin Harvick

16. Kyle Larson

17. Austin Cindric

18. Ross Chastain

19. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

20. Tyler Reddick

21. Erik Jones

22. *All-Star Open Winner

23. *All-Star Open Runner-up

24. *Fan Vote Winner

With the official starting lineup set, the 2023 NASCAR All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway is scheduled to occur on Sunday, May 21, at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

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