NASCAR Cup Series News & Notes – Charlotte Motor Speedway

Charlotte Motor Speedway will host the NASCAR Cup Series for the 63rd running of the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday at 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, in a weekend filled with remembrance for the brave men and women who are serving or have served in our military. The annual event takes pride in honoring our service members and their families and this weekend is expected to be another great experience for all.

Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the most historic venues on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule. The famous facility is a 1.5-mile, paved oval with 24 degrees of banking in the turns and is located just outside Charlotte, North Carolina.

Charlotte Motor Speedway has hosted 123 NASCAR Cup Series races all-time – the fourth most in series history behind Daytona (150), Martinsville (147) and Richmond (131). The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was on June 19, 1960 and the event was won by driver Joe Lee Johnson driving a Chevrolet for car owner Paul McDuffie.

Charlotte’s 123 Cup races have produced 48 different pole winners, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer David Pearson with 14 poles (1961, 1972, 1973, 1974 sweep, 1975 sweep, 1976 sweep, 1977 sweep, 1978 sweep, 1982). Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch leads all active drivers in NASCAR Cup Series poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway with three (2008, 2014, 2018). Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson is the most recent pole winner at Charlotte, winning the pole for last season’s Coca-Cola 600 with a speed of 180.282 mph. Nine of the 48 NASCAR Cup Series Charlotte Motor Speedway pole winners are active this weekend.

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Active Charlotte Pole Winners Poles Seasons
Kyle Busch 3 2018, 2014, 2008
Kevin Harvick 2 2017, 2016
Denny Hamlin 2 2017, 2013
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Kurt Busch 1 2020
William Byron 1 2019
Martin Truex Jr 1 2016
Aric Almirola 1 2012
Brad Keselowski 1 2011

Charlotte Motor Speedway has also produced 53 different race winners in the 123 Cup Series races, led by Jimmie Johnson with eight victories (2003 summer, 2004 sweep, 2005 sweep, 2009 Playoffs, 2014 summer, 2016 Playoffs). Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. (2016, 2017, 2019) and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick (2011, 2013, 2014) lead all active drivers in Charlotte wins with three each. Nine of the 53 former Cup Series Charlotte Motor Speedway winners are entered this weekend, with four of the nine still looking for their first victory of the 2022 season – Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski.

Active Charlotte Race Winners Wins Seasons
Kevin Harvick 3 2014, 2013, 2011
Martin Truex Jr 3 2019, 2017, 2016
Brad Keselowski 2 2020, 2013
Austin Dillon 1 2017
Chase Elliott 1 2020
Joey Logano 1 2015
Kurt Busch 1 2010
Kyle Busch 1 2018
Kyle Larson 1 2021

Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson is the defending winner of the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 and will look to become the seventh different driver to win back-to-back Coke 600s; joining Buddy Baker (1972-‘73), Darrell Waltrip (twice: 1978-’79 and 1988-’89), Neil Bonnett (1982-’83), Dale Earnhardt (1992-’93), Jeff Gordon (1997-‘98) and Jimmie Johnson (2003, ’04, ’05) – Johnson leads the series in consecutive Coca-Cola 600 wins with three straight.

All of the on-track action for the NASCAR Cup Series will begin with practice on Saturday night from 7 p.m. – 7:45 p.m. ET directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 7:45 p.m. ET (both events on FS1).

Next Race: Coca-Cola 600

The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, May 29

The Time: 6 p.m. ET

The Purse: $8,919,032

TV: FOX, 5 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 600 miles (400 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 100),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 200), Stage 3 (Ends on Lap 300), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 400)

NASCAR Salutes the military and their families in Coca-Cola 600

NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola returns for its eighth season, celebrating the service and sacrifice of U.S. service members and their families. Tributes this season began at Dover Motor Speedway (May 2) and will conclude with the 600 Miles of Remembrance during the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend. Fans can follow and engage on social media using #NASCARSalutes.

“In partnership with NASCAR, Coca-Cola is proud to honor our nation’s Armed Forces during The Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend,” said Sue Lynne Cha, Vice President of Integrated Marketing Experiences for Coca-Cola North America. “The Coca-Cola 600 brings racing fans together to recognize the service and sacrifices made by our U.S. military members and their families.”

Unique to the program this year, the NASCAR Salutes Wall of Honor will make its debut at each NASCAR race weekend in May. The mural wall will be located in track midways and allow fans to write messages to the military on individual magnets. Each magnet will then be added to the mural to create a giant mosaic unique to each track that will later be donated to a military base.

“It’s always incredible to see the NASCAR industry and our fans unite to celebrate our military service members and their families through NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola,” said Michelle Byron, Vice President of Partnership Marketing, NASCAR. “Through the support of Coca-Cola, the month of May has become a time when together as an industry, we can reflect on our nation’s heroes and honor the sacrifices they make every day to keep our country and its communities safe.”

To conclude NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will again host Gold Star Families during Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway with all 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars featuring the name of a fallen service member on the windshield during the Coca-Cola 600.

In addition, several other NASCAR Salutes activities will take place, including:

  • At each NASCAR event during the month of May, service members from local bases will have access to complimentary grandstand tickets and unique VIP experiences made possible by Vet Tix and the NASCAR Troops to the Track Program.
  • Charlotte Motor Speedway continues its annual Mission 600, pairing the Coca-Cola Racing Family and other drivers with military bases to educate the NASCAR community about the day-to-day lives of the men and women who serve.
  • Xfinity, a Proud Premier Partner, will display red, white and blue Xfinity windshield headers on their race cars during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco Uniforms 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to showcase their company’s commitment to hiring 21,000 veterans, National Guard and reserve service members, and military spouses who bring unique skills and experiences to Comcast NBCUniversal.
  • Camping World will celebrate with red, white and blue windshield decals on all trucks racing in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Camping World is a strong supporter of all military branches and proudly displays 3,200 square foot American flags at its nationwide retail locations.
  • AMR, the “Official Emergency Medical Services Partner of NASCAR,” will feature the NASCAR Salutes Together with Coca-Cola branding on its NASCAR safety trucks and safety team helmets throughout the program.
  • For a fifth season, Mack Trucks, the “Official Hauler of NASCAR”, will wrap one of its NASCAR haulers in support of NASCAR Salutes leading into Memorial Day weekend. The final design was selected by fan votes with the voting period closing this week.
  • Continuing its tradition, Goodyear will replace its iconic “Eagle” sidewall design with “Honor and Remember” during the Coca-Cola 600 in recognition of the organization working closely with the industry to honor gold star families who have lost family members as a result of serving.
  • During the broadcast of the Coca-Cola 600, FOX will display the name of every U.S. Armed Forces member who lost his or her life since last year’s Memorial Day weekend race as part of a special tribute titled “FOX Sports Remembers,” an initiative begun in 2009. FOX’s scroll will begin running during its pre-race show at 5 p.m. ET.

With a win this weekend, Denny Hamlin could join elite club

Three major pillars within the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, some even refer to them as the ‘Crown Jewel events’ of the series – the Daytona 500, the Southern 500 and this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway – are all extremely difficult to win by themselves, but even more so, is conquering all three. In NASCAR Cup Series history only 11 drivers have won all three major events, and with a win this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin could be the 12th.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon leads the series in ‘Crown Jewel’ wins with a combined 12 victories across the three events – three Daytona 500 wins (1997, 1999, 2005), six Southern 500s (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2007) and three Coca-Cola 600s (1994, 1997, 1998).

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick is the only active driver to already accomplish the feat with five combined victories across the three historic events – one Daytona 500 (2007), two Southern 500s (2014, 2020) and two Coca-Cola 600s (2011, 2013).

NASCAR Cup Series Drivers With Wins In All Three Events

Rank Drivers Daytona 500 Southern 500 Coca-Cola 600 Combined
1 Jeff Gordon 3 6 3 12
2 Richard Petty 7 1 2 10
3 Bobby Allison 3 4 3 10
4 Jimmie Johnson 2 2 4 8
5 Dale Earnhardt 1 3 3 7
6 Darrell Waltrip 1 1 5 7
7 David Pearson 1 3 3 7
8 Buddy Baker 1 1 3 5
9 Kevin Harvick 1 2 2 5
10 Matt Kenseth 2 1 1 4
11 LeeRoy Yarbrough 1 1 1 3

Denny Hamlin is one of 11 active drivers that have already won at least one of the three events – the Daytona 500, Southern 500 or Coca-Cola 600 – and leads all active drivers in combined wins of the races with six victories – three Daytona 500s (2016, 2019, 2020) and three Southern 500s (2010, 2017, 2021).

Active NASCAR Cup Series Drivers With Wins In At Least one Of The Three Events

Rank Active Drivers Daytona 500 Southern 500 Coca-Cola 600 Combined
1 Denny Hamlin 3 3 0 6
2 Martin Truex Jr 0 1 2 3
3 Austin Dillon 1 0 1 2
4 Kurt Busch 1 0 1 2
5 Brad Keselowski 0 1 1 2
6 Joey Logano 1 0 0 1
7 Michael McDowell 1 0 0 1
8 Erik Jones 0 1 0 1
9 Kyle Busch 0 0 1 1
10 Kyle Larson 0 0 1 1
11 Austin Cindric 1 0 0 1

Hamlin is joined by Team Penske’s Joey Logano and rookie Austin Cindric, Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell, Hendrick Motorsport’s Kyle Larson, and Petty GMS Motorsport’s Erik Jones as the drivers with wins in at least one of the three events that are still looking for a Coca-Cola 600 win.

Hamlin has made 30 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Charlotte Motor Speedway posting two poles, 10 top fives and 19 top 10s, including three runner-up finishes.

Harvick, Truex still winless in 2022; lead series in Charlotte victories

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. lead all active NASCAR Cup Series drivers in wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway and head into this weekend winless on the season hoping to visit Victory Lane.

Harvick is currently riding the second longest winless streak of his career at 56 races without a win. His longest streak of races in his Cup career without a win was 115 races from 2007-2010. Prior to this current winless streak he is on, he went 11 straight seasons (2010-2020) with at least one win. Harvick last won at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 19, 2020.

Harvick and the No. 4 SHR team have struggled on 1.5-mile tracks this season finishing 12th at Las Vegas, 21st at Atlanta and 15th at Kansas. His best finish this season is runner-up at Richmond Raceway. In 13 starts, he has put up two top fives and six top 10s. At Charlotte, Harvick has made 39 series starts posting three wins (2011, 2013, 2014), nine top fives and 20 top 10s; including finishing in the top-10 in his last four starts at the track.

Joe Gibbs Racing Martin Truex Jr. is tied with Harvick for the most wins at Charlotte among active drivers with three victories (2016, 2017, 2019). Truex has currently competed in 21 races since his last win in the NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 11, 2021.

This season, Truex has collected two top-five and six top-10 finishes. His best finish this season is a fourth-place at Richmond. Though, Truex has had speed at the 1.5-mile tracks this season finishing eighth at Las Vegas and Atlanta and sixth at Kansas. At Charlotte, Truex has made 30 series starts posting three wins, seven top fives and 13 top 10s.

Charlotte Motor Speedway is a great place for first-time winners

When it comes to getting your first win in the NASCAR Cup Series, nowhere beats Daytona International Speedway with 22 first-time winners. But when it comes to 1.5-mile tracks, none have produced more first-time winners than Charlotte Motor Speedway with 10 – fourth-most all-time behind Daytona (22), Talladega (13), and Martinsville (12)

The most recent driver to win his first career NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway was Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Dillon, who collected his first checkered flag back in 2017.

First-Time Cup Winners at Charlotte Date
Austin Dillon Sunday, May 28, 2017
David Reutimann Monday, May 25, 2009
Casey Mears Sunday, May 27, 2007
Jamie McMurray Sunday, October 13, 2002
Matt Kenseth Sunday, May 28, 2000
Bobby Labonte Sunday, May 28, 1995
Jeff Gordon Sunday, May 29, 1994
Charlie Glotzbach Sunday, October 20, 1968
Buddy Baker Sunday, October 15, 1967
David Pearson Sunday, May 28, 1961

The 2022 season has already seen three first-time winners in Austin Cindric (Daytona 500), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix) and Ross Chastain (COTA, Talladega). In the Modern Era (1972-Present) the most first-time winners the NASCAR Cup Series has seen in a single season is five in 2001 and 2011.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

Blaney wins All-Star race looks to become ninth driver to win All-Star and Coke 600 in same season – Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney won the 2022 NASCAR All-Star Race last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway and this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway will attempt to become the ninth different driver to win the NASCAR All-Star Race and the Coc-Cola 600 in the same season; joining Kyle Larson (2021), Kurt Busch (2010), Kasey Kahne (2008), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Jeff Gordon (1997), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Davey Allison (1991) and Darrell Waltrip (1985).

Lynyrd Skynyrd to play Coca-Cola 600 pre-race concert at Charlotte Motor Speedway – Iconic rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd will salute America with the ultimate Memorial Day Weekend concert ahead of the 63rd running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 2006 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees will perform a bevy of their Southern rock anthems for Coca-Cola 600 ticket holders during an hour-long pre-race concert on pit road. Fans who upgrade their race ticket to a Track Access Pass will have stage-front access for the performance.

“We can’t wait to get to rocking with all the race fans,” lead singer Johnny Van Zant said. “This is going to be one of the coolest concerts we’ll play all year. It’s not often that you get the chance to perform before something as true-blue American as the Coca-Cola 600. Everybody had better be ready because it’s going to get wild.”

Carolina Panthers Wide Receiver DJ Moore named honorary pace car driver – Carolina Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore will lead the field to green as the honorary pace car driver for the 63rd running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29.

Moore will join an all-star cast of current and former Panthers to serve in dignitary roles at America’s Home for Racing, joining Christian McCaffrey, Greg Olsen and Thomas Davis who have helped bring the NASCAR crown jewel event to life through the years behind the wheel of the Toyota Camry TRD pace car.

“Big time players make big time plays on big stages,” Moore said. “I’m used to pulling away from guys on the field, but it’s going to be totally different being out front of the Coca-Cola 600. I can’t wait to get the party started.”

Tripleheader weekend for Ryan Preece – Connecticut native, Ryan Preece will have a full plate of racing this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway as the 31-year-old will be pulling triple duty competing in all three of NASCAR’s national series races.

On Friday night in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Preece will be in the No. 17 Team DGR Ford for his fifth start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. In his four previous starts this year, he has posted two top fives and four top 10s.

On Saturday in the Alsco Uniforms 300, Preece will be jumping into the No. 5 BJ McLeod Motorsports Ford for his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start this season. In his series season debut in the No. 5 at Richmond he posted a 16th-place finish.

Then on Sunday, Preece will pilot the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford, his second start of the season. He made his series season debut at Dover a few week back putting up a 25th-place finish.

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