NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway Distance: 600 miles (400 laps)
Sunday, May 29 6 p.m. ET TV: FOX, 5:30 p.m.
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR XFINITY Series Hisense 4K TV 300
Charlotte Motor Speedway Distance: 300 miles (200 laps)
Saturday, May 28 2:30 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rattlesnake 400
Texas Motor Speedway Distance: 250.5 miles (167 laps)
Friday, June 10 9 p.m. ET TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Car 14 Tony Stewart Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Chevrolet
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart ranks tied for 13th on the all-time victories list, but has never won the Coca-Cola 600. The member of the Coca-Cola Racing family will attempt to capture his first checkered flag in his final start in NASCAR’s longest race on Sunday. Stewart’s best finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was a third-place showing in 2001. In 33 starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway (tied with Matt Kenseth for the most among active drivers), Stewart claims one win (fall of 2003), six top fives, 13 top 10s and an average finish of 14.5. To make NASCAR’s playoffs, Stewart must win a race and finish the regular season in the top 30 in points. He’s currently 37th in the points – 67 markers behind 30th-place David Ragan.
Car 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil Ford
Although it didn’t count for the standings, Joey Logano’s NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race win halted a rough patch of consecutive finishes outside the top 20: Talladega (25), Kansas (38) and Dover (22). Heading into Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX), Logano sits 10th on the Chase Grid, a comfortable 62 points ahead of Ryan Newman on the cutoff line, but a points-paying win would ensure him a spot in NASCAR’s playoffs. Logano won the last race at Charlotte in the fall, leading 227-of-334 laps. His highest finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was a third-place showing in 2011. If he wins on Sunday, Logano will become the eighth driver to win both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010). A Ford driver has not won the Coca-Cola 600 since Mark Martin in 2002.
Car 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe’s Chevrolet
A rabid participant in endurance athletics off the track, Jimmie Johnson is also NASCAR’s top “endurer” on it. His four wins in the Coca-Cola 600 – NASCAR’s longest race – are the most among active drivers and rank second to only NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip’s five. The top driver of all-time at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Johnson boasts a record seven wins at the 1.5-mile track. He claims an all-time mark of four victories at CMS in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race that do not count for his total. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver’s 8.6 average running position and 109.0 driver rating at Charlotte are both active series bests. Johnson’s last Charlotte win came in the 2014 Coca-Cola 600. This season, the No. 48 Chevrolet driver has two wins, five top-five and six top-10 finishes. He sits third on the Chase Grid and holds six bonus points for the Round of 16 in NASCAR’s playoffs (one for each win).
Car 4 Kevin Harvick Busch Light Chevrolet
Since fall 2010, Kevin Harvick has been one of the strongest drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway with three wins, two runner-ups and 10 top 10s in 11 starts. In his last six Charlotte races, Harvick owns two wins, two runner-ups, a sixth-place showing and a finish of ninth. That timeframe marks quite the turnaround for Harvick, who logged a high Queen City finish of 10th from 2002 through spring of 2010 – a span of 17 races.
Car 19 Carl Edwards ARRIS Surfboard Toyota
Carl Edwards provided NASCAR fans with an abundance of firsts when he won the 2016 Coca-Cola 600. Edwards’ victory was his first at the track, first driving a Toyota and first for Joe Gibbs Racing. Now looking even more comfortable with his new team and fresh ride, Edwards looks to defend his victory in Sunday’s edition of NASCAR’s marathon race. The drivers who have won back-to-back Coca-Cola 600s are Darrell Waltrip (1978-79, 1988-89), Neil Bonnett (1982-83), Dale Earnhardt (1992-93) and Jeff Gordon (1997-98). Jimmie Johnson won the event three consecutive times from 2003-05. On the season, Edwards owns two wins, five top fives and eight top 10s. He ranks second on the Chase Grid behind teammate Kyle Busch.
Car 18 Kyle Busch M&M’s Toyota
Two To Go: Busch Needs Wins At Only Charlotte And Pocono To Complete Active Sweep Only two active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series tracks have eluded Kyle Busch – Charlotte Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway. He’s won at the other 21 active tracks. Only those two remain. The 1.5-mile oval and Tricky Triangle happen to be the next two courses on the schedule. Although Busch has never won at CMS, he does own the second-best driver rating (106.1) and average running position (9.7) among active drivers there. In 24 Charlotte starts, he has 10 top fives and 14 top 10s with a high finish of second (twice, fall of 2010 and fall of 2011). Busch was on his way to victory at Pocono last season, but ran out of fuel on the final lap. A checkered flag would’ve clinched him his fourth consecutive win. The 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has carried his momentum into this season. He leads the circuit with three wins and nine top-five finishes.
Car 24 Chase Elliott NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
Jeff Gordon captured his first victory in the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 via a two-tire gamble on the race’s final pit stop. The triumph launched a career that featured 93 wins, four championships and ensured Gordon future enshrinement in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Could Gordon’s successor in the No. 24, Chase Elliott, be the next driver to jumpstart a legendary career in the Coca-Cola 600? Maybe. The 2014 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion’s eight top-10 finishes in the first 12 races in his Sunoco Rookie of the Year contending season are the most since Jimmie Johnson accomplished the feat in 2002. His four top-five showings through 12 races are the most in a rookie season since Kasey Kahne posted the same total in 2004. Elliott placed third in the last points-paying race at Dover where he nearly tracked down race-winner Matt Kenseth and runner-up Kyle Larson for his first victory. Kenseth, who won the Coca-Cola 600 in 2000, is the only rookie who’s achieved the feat.
Car 42 Kyle Larson Target Chevrolet
Kyle Larson’s first points-paying NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win looks like it’s coming soon. The NASCAR Next alum has showed off his driving skills in the last three races (points and exhibition) – Dover, the Sprint Showdown and the Sprint Unlimited. At Dover, Larson led 85 laps, but could not catch Matt Kenseth, who beat him to the finish line by a mere .187 seconds. Larson won the third segment of the Sprint Showdown following one of the best two-car battles all year where he fended off Chase Elliott by 0.015 seconds. Most recently, the No. 42 Chevrolet driver led the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race with two laps remaining, but was passed by Joey Logano and soon wrecked to place 16th. Larson’s first win could come on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he has a high finish of sixth. He won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the 1.5-mile track in May of 2014.
Car 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Mountain Dew Chevrolet
Five years ago Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading the Coca-Cola 600 on the final lap.
Devastatingly, the Kannapolis, North Carolina native and NASCAR history buff, who desperately wants a 600 win in front of his home crowd, ran out of fuel and was passed for the win by Kevin Harvick. He’ll get another opportunity at 600 glory on Sunday. In 32 starts at Charlotte, Earnhardt has six top fives and 12 top 10s. He placed third in last year’s spring Charlotte race.
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES
Sadler’s Slight Points Lead Not Enough To Get Comfortable
JR Motorsports knew it was getting a solid veteran when it signed Elliott Sadler for 2016. With 10 races in the books and the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings lead, solid might’ve been an understatement. Sadler holds a three points advantage over second-place Daniel Suárez, but knows that buffer is not exactly comfortable as the series heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV
300 (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1). Sadler’s average finish through 10 starts is 6.6 – tied with Suárez for tops in the series. Sadler has one win (Talladega), four top fives and nine top 10s. In season-to-date loop data, he is ranked sixth in average running position (9.2) and fifth in Driver Rating (99.8). Early in Sadler’s career he struggled at Charlotte, but as of late he has found his groove on the 1.5-mile speedway, posting six top 10s in his last nine starts. He finished ninth in this event last season.
Dillon/RCR Look To Become Third Driver/Team To Win Three Straight Races At Charlotte
Rising star and former series champion Austin Dillon dominated Charlotte Motor Speedway last season, sweeping both races from the Coors Light Pole. The feat impressed many and now gives Dillon and Richard Childress Racing the opportunity to be just the third driver and third team in series history to win three consecutive races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Dillon can put himself in rare company if he can win this weekend at Charlotte. He would become the third driver to win three consecutive races at CMS, joining 1989 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Rob Moroso (Fall 198, both races of 1989) and Mark Martin (Fall of 1995, both races of 1996). Dillon has made six series starts at Charlotte, recording two wins, three top fives, four top 10s and an average finish of 5.8. Dillon also owns three poles at the famed 1.5-mile track. Richard Childress Racing has entered four drivers this weekend at CMS: Austin Dillon,
Ty Dillon, Brandon Jones and Brendan Gaughan. If any of the four were to win at Charlotte on Saturday, Richard Childress Racing would become the third team in series history to win three consecutive races at CMS, joining Moroso Performance (Fall 1988, both races of 1989) and Roush Fenway Racing (Fall of 1995, both races of 1996).
Rookie Erik Jones Has A Lot To Smile About Lately
Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Erik Jones has been showcasing his talents over the past several weeks. The Byron, Michigan native jumped two spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series points following his win at Dover International Speedway. In 10 starts this year, he has two victories (Bristol and Dover) and two Dash 4 Cash wins totaling $200,000 of bonus money. Plus, the 19 year-old is virtually locked into the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase and has six Chase bonus points due to his multiple wins,
provided he stays in the top 30 in points and qualifies for the remaining events. “Charlotte has been a place where I’ve run fairly well myself and JGR has always run well,” Jones said. “We’ll see as the week goes on, but I think our mile-and-a-half program has been pretty stout this year everywhere we’ve gone, no matter what mile-and-a-half it may be.” Jones has made two starts at Charlotte, posting one top five and an average finish of 8.5. Assuming Jones continues his streak of success this weekend at Charlotte wouldn’t be foolish. He holds the second-best average finish on 1.5-mile tracks this season – an astounding 2.7.
JGR’s Suárez Must Keep The Heat On The Standings Leader
With just three points separating himself from the NASCAR XFINITY Series standings lead, 2015 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Daniel Suárez needs to keep the heat on veteran Elliott Sadler to close the points gap between first and second. In 10 starts, Suárez has posted four top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 6.6. In season-to-date loop data Suárez leads the series in Average Running Position (6.7) and is ranked second in Driver Rating (106.9). Charlotte provides the perfect stage for Suárez to catapult ahead of Sadler in the points. Suárez has made two starts at CMS, logging one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 5.0.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
Crafton Cruises To Second Consecutive Win
Matt Crafton led a race-high 47 laps in last Saturday’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 to cruise to his second consecutive NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. The ThorSport Racing driver, who leads the points standings, is the first driver on the circuit to log multiple victories this season. He has totaled at least two wins in his last three campaigns. Crafton leads the series in wins (2), top fives (3), top 10s (5), driver rating (115.4), average finish (8.5), fastest laps (128), laps led (264) and percentage of laps led (26.7). His Charlotte victory was his seventh win, 11th top-two showing and 18th top-10 finish in 20 starts at 1.5-mile tracks since 2014.
Two-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton paces the points standings six races through the 2016 season. He is followed by Timothy Peters, Daniel Hemric, Spencer Gallagher and William Byron. Ryan Truex, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Johnny Sauter round out the top 10.
Crafton, Byron and Nemechek have each captured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase berths by winning races.
The series returns to action at on Friday, June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway for the Rattlesnake 400 (9 p.m. ET on FS1).
Graphics & Photos Courtesy of NASCAR