It happened around 9:45 p.m. near Creech Church Road.
Investigators said 17-year-old Jamie Upchurch, of Zebulon, ran off the road and into a tree. The teen was pinned in the wreckage.
Upchurch was taken to WakeMed with serious injuries and remains in critical condition.
The high school student was heading home from a friend's house at the time of the crash.
ABC11 talked to a handful of the victim's friends and friends of the family who all described a sweet girl. They say Upchurch is a well-liked teenager who gets great grades at school.
"Jamie, I've known her ever since she's been born. We're kin. It's just a great tragedy...It's just terrible, you know...I'd hate for one of my kids to be in that situation," said family friend Stacy Creech.
Troopers said neither speed nor alcohol played a role in the crash.
Troopers did not find a cell phone in the car, which could have been a distraction. At this point in the investigation, their best guess at a cause is inexperienced driving.