One thing about the Coca-Cola 600 is that either the cream rises to the top and the top finishers are exactly who you’d expect them to be, or it comes down to fuel strategy and there are some unexpected numbers on the pylon. Sunday’s race was one of the former, and the nine drivers who finished on the lead lap were no surprise. But one driver and his team tried a strategy play, staying out on the final caution of the night. If there had been one more yellow flag in the race, it would have netted Landon Cassill a top-10 finish. For Cassill, who has struggled with newcomer BK Racing to earn a Top-35 points position, a top 10 would have been huge.
If there was a prize for tenacity, Kurt Busch would have been in Victory Lane to receive it. Busch, running for one of the most underfunded teams in the elite field, bounced off the wall early and finished near the back of the early segments. But that doesn’t tell the whole story. Even with a damaged car, Busch raced like it was for the win, running three-wide and never backing down from anyone’s challenge. And Busch’s perseverance paid off: he finished seventh in the final 20-lap segment and eighth overall. A week after showing the worst of Kurt Busch, Busch showed the best in Charlotte.
One sure way to make people mad at you at a restrictor-plate race is to throw an ill-timed block. It’s by no means a dirty move; it’s instinctually trying to protect position. But the danger lies in the act that there’s a split-second window in which to make the move work. This week, AJ Allmendinger tried to throw a block at Denny Hamlin after that window had already closed. The ensuing multi-car crash ended the hopes of a dozen other teams. It wasn’t the only wreck of the day, but it was the most preventable.
Everyone knows by now that the next Sprint Cup win for Hendrick Motorsports will be the organization’s 200th, but another driver is looking for a career milestone as well. Ryan Newman’s next pole will be the 50th of his career. Pole number 50 will move Newman, a driver known throughout his career for his qualifying ability, into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time pole winners’ list. Newman currently ranks third among active Sprint Cup drivers for pole positions, behind Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.
Brad Keselowski. He’s young, cocky and he’s winning. Perhaps you could even call him the latest addition to the NASCAR superstar stratosphere. Is that going too far? I don’t think so. Every year or two a new name is added to the roster of drivers that you can include in the elite column. Some seem …
NASCAR opened the drivers’ meeting to race fans at Las Vegas, and while it gave those fans a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes, many drivers think NASCAR took this one one step too far. The intent of the meeting – to go over safety information or rules updates for the upcoming race, to give a few necessary warnings, and for teams to air any questions they have has become more of a media circus in recent years, where more time is spent on introducing celebrities in attendance than on making sure the teams understand their race procedures. Is it time to return to the days when only drivers and crew chiefs are privy to the meeting?