NASCAR: Kyle Larson being replaced at North Wilkesboro?

Kyle Larson plans to be at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race, and unlike in qualifying, Kevin Harvick is not allowed to replace him.
Kevin Harvick, Hendrick Motorsports, North Wilkesboro Speedway, NASCAR All-Star Race
Kevin Harvick, Hendrick Motorsports, North Wilkesboro Speedway, NASCAR All-Star Race / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

Kevin Harvick has been the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports during NASCAR All-Star Race weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway thus far.

With full-time driver Kyle Larson at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as he aims to solidify his starting position for next Sunday afternoon’s 108th running of the Indy 500, Harvick was called upon to practice and qualify the No. 5 Chevrolet this weekend, bringing the 2014 Cup Series champion briefly out of retirement.

With Larson having advanced to the Top 12 qualifying session at Indianapolis this afternoon (full Saturday results here), he could still advance to the Firestone Fast Six shootout for the pole position later on, which could make it challenging -- but definitely not impossible -- for him to arrive at North Wilkesboro in time for tonight’s All-Star Race.

However, Kevin Harvick will not compete tonight regardless.

Harvick is a former Cup Series champion and a former All-Star Race winner, and both criteria are used to determine who is eligible for this year’s All-Star Race. However, they only apply to full-time drivers, and Harvick no longer competes full-time.

Harvick retired from full-time Cup Series competition after the 2023 season and made the move to the NASCAR on Fox broadcast booth for 2024, where he now calls races alongside former teammate Clint Bowyer and lead announcer Mike Joy.

Drivers who do not compete full-time are only eligible to compete in the All-Star Race if they won a race in 2023 or 2024, and Harvick hasn’t won since August 2022, making him ineligible. As a result, he is set to be in the booth, not in the car, this evening.

While Harvick technically could have taken part in Sunday night’s All-Star Open to qualify for the All-Star Race, that possibility went out the window when he did not partake in All-Star Open qualifying on Friday.

Given the fact that Larson has long been expected to be at North Wilkesboro for the main event itself, Hendrick Motorsports would not have had any reason to withdraw the No. 5 Chevrolet from the All-Star Race field just to try to have it requalify via the All-Star Open with another driver.

While he took part in All-Star Race qualifying, Harvick would not have been eligible to compete in the 60-lap heat races around the four-turn, 0.625-mile (1.006-kilometer) North Wilkesboro, North Carolina oval to set the starting lineup for the full 200-lap event either.

Those races were canceled on Saturday night as a result of rain, meaning that the All-Star Race lineup was set strictly by the qualifying session. Though Harvick qualified 12th of 17 drivers, Larson is still set to start at the rear if he does indeed make it to the track in time to compete.

If Larson cannot make it in time, the No. 5 Chevrolet would simply not run.

The top two drivers in the 100-lap All-Star Open are set to join the 17 drivers already locked into the 200-lap All-Star Race, as is the winner of the NASCAR Fan Vote (specifically, the highest vote getter among those not locked in who still have raceable cars).

A full All-Star Open starting lineup can be found here, and a full All-Star Race starting lineup can be found here.

dark. Next. One driver change for North Wilkesboro, and it's no surprise. One driver change for North Wilkesboro, and it's no surprise

Tune in to Fox Sports 1 at 6:00 p.m. ET this evening for the live broadcast of the NASCAR All-Star Open from North Wilkesboro Speedway, and stay tuned in for the All-Star Race at 8:00 p.m. ET. Start a free trial of FuboTV now and don’t miss it!