The NASCAR Cup Series will return home this week to compete in the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday and another 500(K) race on Wednesday. What we see at Charlotte will likely be closer to what we had in Las Vegas than the results from the two races at Darlington. Last year’s race came down to a late restart and it will likely happen again Sunday. I expect another exciting race at the home of NASCAR.
2019 Coca-Cola 600 Recap
– The Track: The marathon race that is known as the Coca-Cola 600 was a scorcher last year. The temperatures were well over 120 degrees in the cars and the humidity was high too. This race was a true endurance race. It also made the track hot and slick.
There were a lot of cautions for flat tires and cars spinning out. The 16 caution flags were a record for the Coca-Cola 600. It had a lot to do with the heat in the track and the teams running the tire pressures too low. Hopefully they do not make the same mistakes this week.
– The 10 drivers who looked the best in the race: Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, William Byron, Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Stage /Race Results
|Stage 2||Stage 3||
|1. B. Keselowski||1. B. Keselowski||1. M. Truex Jr.||1. M. Truex Jr.|
|2. Denny Hamlin||2. Alex Bowman||2. Kyle Busch||2. Joey Logano|
|3. Kyle Busch||3. Kyle Busch||3. Chase Elliott||3. Kyle Busch|
|4. Chase Elliott||4. Chase Elliott||4. Ryan Blaney||4. Chase Elliott|
|5. Kevin Harvick||5. William Byron||5. Kurt Busch||5. R. Stenhouse Jr.|
|6. William Byron||6. Kevin Harvick||6. Alex Bowman||6. Chrsi Buescher|
|7. Joey Logano||7. Ryan Blaney||7. R. Stenhouse Jr.||7. Alex Bowman|
|8. Jimmie Johnson||8. Kurt Busch||8. Joey Logano||8. Jimmie Johnson|
|9. M. Truex Jr.||9. Joey Logano||9. Kyle Larson||9. William Byron|
|10. Ryan Blaney||10. Kyle Larson||10. Denny Hamlin||10. Kevin Harvick|
– Martin Truex Jr. qualified 14th and he was running 6th when he had a tire go down on lap 75. It was the 3rd tire problem for the Joe Gibbs Racing cars. Cole Pearn told Truex, “We have to increase the tire pressures. It is the reason for the blow outs.” Truex got into Bayley Currey on lap 252 but the damage was not bad. Truex was able to race his way back to the front and took the lead with 66 laps left in the race. Truex led a race-high 116 laps and went to Victory Lane.
– Kyle Busch qualified 3rd and he had the fastest car on the 10-lap, 15-lap and 20-lap average speed chart in practice. The No. 18 car was the first car off pit road after a lap 24 caution. Busch took the lead and led 79 laps. He ran in the top 3 for most of the race. Busch ran into his brother (Kurt Busch) on lap 310 but the damage was not too bad. Busch was able to bring the No. 18 Toyota home in the 3rd position.
– Denny Hamlin qualified 20th and he was working his way to the front when he had a loose wheel on lap 75. He was saved by his teammate (Martin Truex Jr.). The No. 19 brought out a caution for a flat tire and it allowed Hamlin to pit and fix the loose wheel. Hamlin had a 12.61 average running position (11th best) but a crash on the last lap caused Hamlin to finish 17th.
– Erik Jones qualified 16th and he ran in the top 5 in all of the practice sessions. He was making his way inside the top 10 when he had a tire explode on lap 24. Jones hit the wall and caused his No. 20 car to go to the garage. Jones finished last in the race, but his car looked good before the tire problem.
– Brad Keselowski qualified 21st. His team worked on their long-run speed in practice and it paid off. Keselowski was running in the top 5 after 50 laps. The No. 2 car took the lead on lap 82. Keselowski was able to lead 76 laps in the race and win Stage 1 and Stage 2. He was running in the top 10 when he had a tire go down and he spun out with only 4 laps to go. That ruined what was a great night for Keselowski.
– Joey Logano qualified 7th and he fell like a rock at the beginning of the race. He fell outside the top 20 on lap 30. His Ford was too tight but Todd Gordon told Logano to be patient, “The track will come to use as the sun goes down.” On lap 301 Logano said, “We have a rocket now. Thanks boys.” Logano drove through the field to finished 2nd.
– Ryan Blaney had a lot better car than his 13th-place finish represents. Blaney qualified 19th and used the three cautions in Stage 1 to work to improve his car. Blaney made his way inside the top 10 on lap 64. Blaney finished 10th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2 and 4th in Stage 3. He was running in the top 6 with only 4 laps left when a track bar broke. He was a lot better than his 13th place finish.
– Kevin Harvick was way too tight in practice. Rodney Childress made adjustments before the race and Harvick said, “It is so loose I can barely hold onto it.” The No. 4 car gained a lot of speed after some adjustments. Harvick finished 5th in Stage 1 and 6th in Stage 2. His average running position was 8.66 (7th best). It was a good but not great race for Harvick. The No. 4 car finished 10th.
– Clint Bowyer qualified 8th but problems on pit road ruined his race. He had a speeding penalty on one stop and slid through his pits on another. He kept loosing track positions because of his mistakes and it was tough for the No. 14 team to recover. Bowyer finished 24th.
– Aric Almirola qualified 2nd and was running in the top 5. He had an uncontrolled tire penalty on his lap 49 pit stop. He lost all of his track position because of the penalty. Almirola spent most of the race running between 12th and 15th. His average running position was 13.74 (13th best). Almriola finished 11th.
– Chase Elliott qualified 12th and his car was too loose at the beginning of the race. The three cautions in Stage 1 allowed the No. 9 team work to tighten up the car. The car gained a lot of speed. Elliott finished 4th in Stage 1, 4th in Stage 2 and 3rd in Stage 3. Elliott took the lead on lap 128. He was able to lead 43 laps and finished 4th.
– William Byron won the pole at his home track. He took the early lead and led the first 24 laps of the race. Byron had a lot of speed while the sun was out. Byron finished 6th in Stage 1 and 5th in Stage 2. The car got too tight once the grip level went up. Byron had a 7.79 average running position (4th best) so his car was pretty good for most of the race. The No. 24 car finished 9th.
– Alex Bowman qualified 13th and his car looked really good. He gave up some track position to pit at the end of Stage 1 but his car came to life once the sun went down. Bowman was able to finish 2nd in Stage 2 and 6th in Stage 3. His average running position was 8.86 (8th best). Bowman finished 7th.
– Jimmie Johnson qualified 15th and the No. 48 team worked to fix their loose racecar and it allowed Johnson to slowly work his way to the front. Johnson finished 8th in Stage 1 and ran the other 2 Stages right outside the top 10. Johnson had a 10.63 average running position (10th best). He was able to use pit strategy with 5 laps to go to finish 8th.
– Kyle Larson (Matt Kenseth’s Car now) won the All-Star Race the week before but he had problems in the Coca-Cola 600. He tried to run the top of the track early in the race and it was too slick. Larson bounced his Chevy off the wall but the damage was not too bad. He ran in the top 10 for most of the race. He finished 10th in Stage 2 and 9th in Stage 3. Larson was involved in the lap 317 wreck with Stenhouse, Bowyer, Ty Dillon and Austin Dillon. Larson finished 33rd.
– Kurt Busch qualified 11th and his car was too loose. He told his crew chief, “The backend is snappy loose.” Busch fell back through the field in Stage 1. The No. 1 car did not score any Stage points in Stage 1 but was able to finish 8th in Stage 2 and 5th in Stage 3. The Busch brothers ran into each other on lap 310. It ruined Kurt’s race. He finished 27th.
– Ryan Newman had an uneventful night. He qualified 18th and spent most of the race running between the 15th and 20th positions. His average running position was 15.46 (15th best). He did not score any Stage points but was able to finish 16th in the race.
– Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 9th and he was running in the top 10 when he was spun out by Kyle Busch on lap 87. Stenhouse spun through the new tuff grass infield and lost a lot of track position. The No. 17 used good pit strategy to overcome an “OK” car. Stenhouse was able to finish 5th. One of his best races of the year.
– Chris Buescher qualified 22nd and he ran the low line to pass a lot of cars. Buescher made his way to the 12th position when he spun out on lap 128. The damage was not bad. Buescher lost a lot of track position be he used his fast car to make it back inside the top 10. Buescher finished 6th.
– Austin Dillon competed in the Xfinity Series race the day before the Coca-Cola 600. He had to get out of his Xfinity Series car because of heat exhaustion. The No. 3 car qualified 4th but quickly fell through the field. He was involved in an accident on lap 317 and it ruined his day. Dillon finished 34th.
– Corey LaJoie qualified 30th. He had a 23.2 average running position (25th best) but he was able to stay on the lead lap. The No. 32 team decided to take 2 tires to gain track position under caution with only 4 laps to go. The gamble paid off and LaJoie finished 12th.
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