A strong core of regulars have had some thrilling races so far this season in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and more side-by-side, door-banging action is expected at the Wright Brand 250 on Saturday at historic North Wilkesboro Speedway.

This is only the fourth NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race to be held at the .625-mile North Wilkesboro Speedway in NASCAR history, and its most recent winner – Kyle Larson – isn’t entered this year, so the elevated Victory Lane ceremony will go to a fourth different winner to join Larson and the other two past winners from the 1990s, Mark Martin and Mike Bliss.

Several young guns have quickly established themselves as the 2024 front-runners in the series, including two-time season winners Christian Eckes and Corey Heim. Both of those rivals lead the current points standings and are being pursued by several other tough competitors, including recent Las Vegas winner Rajah Caruth and season-opening Daytona winner Nick Sanchez.

Points leader Eckes has shined at the short tracks this season in his No. 19 Chevy, scoring wins at the high-banked Bristol Motor Speedway and the paper-clip shaped Martinsville Speedway. He would love to add the interesting layout at North Wilkesboro to his collection, where the front stretch is downhill and the backstretch is uphill, and like Bristol and Martinsville, has seen so many NASCAR legends race to victory.

“Just the history of this place coming in here and knowing the legends that have raced here, is pretty cool,” Eckes said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of passing compared to last year, but I really like what they’ve done (with the repave) so far.”

Heim, who won the pole and finished sixth here last year in his No. 11 Toyota and is currently second in points with wins at COTA and Kansas, also has a lot of respect for this historic venue, which opened its doors in 1947.

“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,” said Heim, who also noted the repave changes everything.

“It’s got a lot of grip, it’s certainly a lot different than last year,” Heim said. “It’s going to be tough to see how the race goes.”

Meanwhile, defending and two-time series champion Ben Rhodes is always a threat to win, as are several other veterans in the class, including Grant Enfinger, former champion Matt Crafton, Ty Majeski, Tyler Ankrum and Stewart Friesen. Several rising stars are also making an impact this year, including Daniel Dye, who won the pole at Atlanta, and Taylor Gray, who has posted some strong finishes lately in his TRICON Toyota, including three top-fives and seven top-10s.

Three Cup Series experienced drivers – Ross Chastain, the recently retired Aric Almirola and resurgent Ty Dillon – along with Xfinity standout Sammy Smith, are also entered. Chastain won the most recent event at Darlington Raceway in the Niece Motorsports No. 45 and will certainly be one of the pre-race favorites to win the Wright Bacon 250. Almirola, who will drive another Toyota entry for Hattori Racing Enterprises, has been busy in his retirement as he claimed a victory earlier this year in the Xfinity Series at Martinsville Speedway.

Dillon has returned to full-time status in the Truck Series this year at the controls of the No. 25 Rackley WAR Chevy, and Smith will pilot the No. 7 Chevy fielded by Spire Motorsports that Larson took to Victory Lane one year ago.

Several drivers are planning to make their NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series debuts in the race, including last year’s Window World 125 zMAX CARS Tour winner Brenden “Butterbean” Queen, who is driving the No. 1 Toyota; veteran Pro Late Model racer Clayton Green in the No. 04 Chevy for Roper Racing; and Dawson Sutton, son of Rackley Roofing president Curtis Sutton, who will be driving a second Rackley WAR Chevy, the No. 26 machine.

— North Wilkesboro Speedway —

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