The historic 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 is less than a week from roaring to life at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before NASCAR’s toughest test of man and machine gets underway, here’s a look at some things fans can’t afford to miss when taking in the sensory overload that is the most patriotic race weekend of the year at America’s Home for Racing:
Cheap Trick Pre-Race Concert
Charlotte’s power-packed Pit Party features a concert with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Cheap Trick presented by Advance Auto Parts Speed Perks. The 60-minute concert headlines a fan-friendly spectacle featuring appearances by past and present members of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, including Coca-Cola 600 winners Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty.
Known for world-renowned hits including “I Want You To Want Me,” “Dream Police,” “Surrender,” and the Billboard chart-topping “The Flame,” Cheap Trick will wow the crowd on the frontstretch before the stars of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will take on the Coca-Cola 600.
Spectacular Pre-Race Salute to the Troops
Charlotte Motor Speedway will incorporate all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in an unprecedented, spectacular pre-race Salute to the Troops. This year’s edition of the Memorial Day weekend celebration will feature special guests, military vehicles and awe-inspiring displays from the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard. Fans and drivers will also get to #KnowYourMil through interactions with service members.
Patriotism with a Side of Dirt Racing
Racing action isn’t limited to the 1.5-mile superspeedway. New this year, the two-day Patriot Nationals brings the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Sprint Cars to The Dirt Track at Charlotte for a dirt-flying slugfest of high-speed winged sprint cars. NASCAR luminaries including Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. own Outlaw sprint car teams that will compete in the event. Larson, the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race winner, will also take part as a driver. Look for dirt late model undercards on Friday and Saturday as well as special patriotic displays and a winner’s trophy a true patriot will love.
Pit Stop Pier
If Charlotte Motor Speedway is your home away from home, the new Pit Stop Pier can be the beach at your home away from home. This sandy, island-inspired oasis near Turn 1 gives fans a chance to cool off in a tropic atmosphere that’s close to the action. If you’re feeling particularly festive, grab a “Sea Whiskey” cocktail, pick up some nachos at the nacho bar and kick back in a Petty blue boat to complete the beach-at-the-speedway experience.
Grab a Souvenir Race Program
Souvenir programs remain one of the longest traditions – and most collectible items – fans can find at America’s Home for Racing. This year’s 60th Coca-Cola 600 souvenir program cover highlights historic moments from NASCAR’s first 600-mile event. Additionally, fans will find a special poster commemorating the many works of the late Sam Bass, NASCAR’s first officially licensed artist, who designed the speedway’s Coca-Cola 600 program cover from 1985-2018.
Join the Ultimate Race Day Pit Party
Want to get even closer to the action? Purchase a Coca-Cola 600 track pass – which is also good for driver introductions access – and join in at the Pit Party. The Race Day Pit Party lets fans rub elbows with the stars of the sport before they engage in wheel-to-wheel action on Charlotte’s iconic 1.5-mile superspeedway. Fans will have the opportunity to take part in Q&A sessions with NASCAR personalities, jam out to live music and take in the festivities before NASCAR’s biggest stars hit the track.
Run with the Bull(fighters)
Bullfighters Only, the world’s top freestyle bullfighters, will wave the red before the green gets waved in the flagstand on Sunday. Head to the speedway’s Fan Zone to witness one of four thrilling bullfighting shows at noon, 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
Witness NASCAR’s Future Stars on the Track
The May 25 Alsco 300 puts the rising stars of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the spotlight for a sun-lit spectacle of speed. Watch future Cup Series drivers like Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Tyler Reddick and Noah Gragson as they lock horns in search of the trophy for the series’ most star-studded 300-mile event. Additionally, North Carolina basketball legend Phil Ford will serve as grand marshal for the event.
Pole Night with a Dose of ARCA
The ARCA Menards Series returns to America’s Home for Racing on May 23, following Spectrum Pole Night. The General Tire 150 will see some of stock car racing’s up-and-comers like Harrison Burton, Michael Self and Riley Herbst battle it out under the lights after single-car qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600.
Ride a Ferris Wheel at the Turn 4 Sun Deck
What’s better than riding a giant Ferris wheel during the Coca-Cola 600? Check out the speedway’s expansive Turn 4 Sun Deck for an excellent view of the action – but if you’re not afraid of heights, take a Ferris wheel ride. And after the checkered flag falls on Sunday, don’t forget to grab your tickets for the second running of the Sept. 27-29 Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s innovative ROVAL™ road course oval.
Practice Driving in the Infield
Check out an interactive Topgolf display in the speedway’s infield this weekend, featuring the ultimate mobile Topgolf experience. Before NASCAR’s big names go for a 600-mile Sunday drive like no other, practice tee shots and drives in a new location – America’s Home for Racing.
The Hottest Wheels of All
Visit the Fan Zone on Sunday to see Hot Wheels cars in all their life-size glory. This race day-only display is sure to amp up fans’ excitement, as some of the most iconic Hot Wheels machines show up as 1/1-scale cars instead of their more common 1/64-scale counterparts.
Rev Up at Speed Street
600 Festival’s Circle K Speed Street presented by Coca-Cola runs Thursday to Sunday in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, with attractions including vendor displays, driver appearances and rocking concerts featuring the likes of Corey Smith, the Brothers Osborne and Styx. Visit www.600festival.com for more information.
Tickets, camping and upgrades for every Coca-Cola 600 weekend event are available at the gates, by visiting charlottemotorspeedway.com/
Fans can connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.
TicketGuardian, the award-winning technology platform, has announced a branding consolidation and pivot to the name of its parent company, Protecht. The pivot to Protecht is designed to streamline and simplify the Protecht offerings to partners, prospects and customers.
Protechts industry-leading live event technology and consumer-facing protection products help provide ticketing platforms and organizers with control over inventory, additional lines of revenue, fraud prevention tools and fan engagement through enhancements like an improved checkout flow, bot detection (beta) and upgraded security.
Through its various products such as FanShield, TourShield, EventShield, RegShield and FraudGuardian, Protecht provides a dynamic solution for the live events industry to protect attendees and organizers alike from financial burden by offering the option for consumers to protect their tickets, registrations and events including music, sports, endurance, conferences and more.
"The primary goal of the rebranding is to concentrate on our mission statement as we continue to grow," said Protecht Founder and CEO Bryan Derbyshire. "Were here to protect those incredible encounters and memories as well as the investments fans make in them. We Protecht What Matters."
The rebranding comes on the heels of a blistering start to 2019 for Protecht that saw the launch of partnerships with Learfield IMG College, Eventbrite, Tickets.com and Paciolan, with more in the works. The company also launched a documentary series, FanStories, and hosted its second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series TicketGuardian 500 in Phoenix.
For more information on Protecht, visit www.protecht.io.
Simon Pagenaud started the day celebrating his pole-winning effort in qualifications for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge by participating in the traditional front-row photo shoot. He ended the day at the front of the speed chart.
Pagenaud was the fastest driver in a two-hour practice Monday afternoon on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval as the 33 qualifiers tuned their cars in race trim in preparation for "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" just six days away.
The 2016 NTT IndyCar Series champion turned a lap of 228.441 mph on the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske to top Monday's practice, a day after averaging 229.992 mph over four laps to earn his 11th career pole position and first for the world's largest single-day sporting event.
"It was really good to be able to run with a lot of people on track," said Pagenaud, seeking to become the second driver in as many years to win both IMS races after he conquered the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course on May 11. Teammate Will Power achieved the IMS double in 2018.
"I thought at the end it was almost like a race," Pagenaud added about the practice that featured intense running in groups. "Everybody was on track, so that was entertaining. It was a good way to see how the car was reacting.
"Obviously, we have a good idea on where our car is at, but you want to see what the competition is like as well. That's why you saw me running a lot behind people and cycle back to the back (of a group of cars) to try to understand who was strong and how they were driving their cars. But I think we've got a really good (car) balance so far."
Another Team Penske driver, 2017 series champion and current points leader Josef Newgarden, was second fastest in the practice with a lap of 228.273 mph in the No. 2 Shell V-Power Nitro Plus Chevrolet. James Hinchcliffe was third at 227.994 in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. Reigning series champion Scott Dixon was fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, with a lap of 227.951 mph.
The action was nonstop, with 2,469 laps completed in the session. Takuma Sato, the 2017 Indy 500 winner, turned the most laps (98) in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Power was second with 94 laps in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, with Pagenaud and Newgarden close behind at 88 laps apiece.
"The car was very consistent, just degrading the front tires a little bit at the end of the runs," Pagenaud said, "but overall everything was very solid, very strong. We did some fuel save (runs) as well, to see how we could do in the race. So it was quite interesting to see all that stuff, and we were able to do some engine tuning as well. So far, so good."
While the 33 drivers will fan out across the United States and Canada on Tuesday to promote Sunday's race in the annual Indy 500 media tour, the cars remain idled until a final practice Friday on Miller Lite Carb Day. The 90-minute session kicks off live Carb Day coverage on NBCSN that runs from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. ET and includes the Indy 500 Pit Stop Competition as well as the premier race of the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires season, the Freedom 100 presented by Cooper Tires.
Indianapolis 500 race-day coverage features wall-to-wall coverage on the NBC Sports family of networks. A prerace show airs on NBCSN from 9-11 a.m. Sunday, followed by race coverage on NBC from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. A one-hour postrace show begins at 4 p.m. on NBCSN.
The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network also provides Indy 500 race-day coverage on network affiliates, XM 209, SiriusXM 82, Web 970 and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA.
NTT IndyCar Series PR
Other honors Sgt. Conrad received include the Meritorious Unit Commendation (second award), Army Commendation Medal (third award), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Combat Action Badge, NATO Medal and other honors.
Family of Sgt. Conrad will join Go Fas Racing and the Superior Logistics team at Charlotte Motor Speedway for 600 miles of remembrance on Sunday, May 26 at 6:00 PM ET.
Speedway Indiana May 20,2019
After spending the entire day in the rain Sunday! A small window opened late in the afternoon for qualifications.
For the second year in a row 2 highly known drivers were bumped from the Indy 500. In 2018 it was James Hinchcliff, and now this year 2 time Formula One Champion Fernando Alonso was the latest to get bumped from running the Indy 500!
Frankly it could have been avoided! McLaren did not give Fernando car he could compete with, and that fact was proven Sunday! The buzz around the media center was McLaren was going to buy a spot. Well that was quickly squashed. Fernando said if didn’t earn a spot then he didn’t want to be in race. Television cameras focused on Alonso during Kaiser's run as he sat on the brink of elimination. The Juncos driver ran four neat and composed laps, eventually crossing the line and knocking Alonso and McLaren—both synonymous with success but, more recently, catastrophe—out by just two-hundredths of a mile per hour.
Then we had the fast nine and it appears we are playing game of “Simon Says”. Simon Pagenaud wins the GP last weekend and this week he wins the pole. Today Simon leads in practice 1 for the Indy 500 this weekend!
This is the tightest grid in 500 history! With just a little over a second between 1st and 33rd positions.
Todays practice results
Pagenaud, Simon 228.441
Newgarden, Josef 228.273
Hinchcliffe, James 227.994
Dixon, Scott 227.951
Rossi, Alexander 227.660
Kimball, Charlie 227.645
Castroneves, Helio 227.614
Power, Will 227.480
Rosenqvist, Felix (R) 227.414
Davison, James 227.393
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In the new qualifying format for the 2019 Indianapolis 500, the bottom six drivers after Saturday’s qualifying session were to duke for the final three positions on Sunday, with only one attempt.
Fernando Alonso’s final 4-lap average was 227.353mph, putting him third out of the five drivers to take time. Alonso was in. Provisionally, but in. After all, the only driver left to qualify was the unsponsored Juncos Racing No. 32, which nearly flipped two days prior with California’s Kyle Kaiser behind the wheel. Alonso is a two-time F1 Champ, defending 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, defending 24 Hours of Daytona winner, 32-time F1 winner, and current FIA WEC Point Leader. No way Juncos’ backup car could bump the McLaren-Carlin Chevrolet, right?
Kyle Kaiser set the world on fire. Not everyone knew his name Sunday morning. The world was either cursing or singing his name Sunday evening. Kaiser’s four-lap average was 227.372mph. Just .019mph quicker than Alonso’s speed. The unsponsored, white, green and orange Chevrolet was in. When the Juncos Racing team began celebrating, Alonso walked past the cameras, media, fans, straight to a golf cart. He hopped on the cart, and was driven out of sight. No talk to the media for the Spaniard. He had failed to qualify for his second Indianapolis 500.
The excitement of bump day is high every year, and unfortunately for the McLaren team, they had lived it. And even more unfortunate for Zak Brown, they had lived the wrong end.
Will McLaren buy a ride from a qualified car? Will Alonso return to the brickyard next year? Only time will tell. And that’s why we love motorsports. The unpredictable. The drama. The excitement. And ofcourse, the speed.
Thank you, IMS. Until next week.
Roush Fenway Racing will host its annual spring fan day at its headquarters in Concord, N.C. on Thursday, May 23. The event is open to the public and will feature autograph sessions with drivers Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as well as NASCAR Hall of Fame owner Jack Roush.
The event will feature various partner displays, with partners handing out samples and other items. , The famous Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile will be on display and team personal will serve Oscar Mayer Hotdogs to fans in attendance.
In addition team members will be on hand providing fans with first hand pit crew demonstrations and a behind the scenes peek of how race car paint schemes are prepared for the track.
SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will again broadcast from the event, featuring visits with the Roush Fenway drivers, Jack Roush and Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark.
Roush Fenway encourages fans to take part in the event through social media using the hashtag #RFRFanDay, while the team will give fans a behind-the-scenes look at the event throughout the day on all of its social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. In addition, fans that are in attendance at #RFRFanDay will have the unique opportunity to use a special Snapchat filter at the event.
Autograph sessions will kick off at 9 a.m. with Jack Roush, Ryan Newman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. signing for fans in the team’s museum. Autograph session tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning at 8 a.m.
The team will host a raffle giveaway in its theater at 12 noon, where fans in attendance can win great prizes.
What: Roush Fenway Racing Spring ‘Fan Appreciation Day’
Where: Roush Fenway Racing Campus – 4600 Roush Place, Concord N.C. 28027
When: Thursday, May 23, 2019. Autograph Ticket distribution begins at 8:00 a.m. with autographs starting at 9:00 a.m. Fan Appreciation Day runs until 1:00 p.m.
Meridian Speedway honored the men and women of the United States Armed Forces Saturday, May 18, as the quarter-mile asphalt oval hosted Military Appreciation Night featuring the Project Filter Twin 25’s. The PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds, Coors Super Stocks, Teleperformance Street Stocks, Project Filter Pro-4s, High School Tuners, and Junior Stingers all contested double dashes to claim the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.
Eight Teleperformance Street Stocks rolled to the green on their second 25 lap main event. After an early exit in the first feature, Nampa, Idaho’s Kendra Occhipinti roared to the early lead with Josh Fanopoulos and Jesse James Lawson in her tire tracks. Lawson was first to challenge Occhipinti and on lap eight piloted his Dillon Plumbing, Jump Time of Idaho machine to the top of the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. This left Occhipinti in the clutches of Fanopoulos and her younger brother Taylor Occhipinti.
Fanopoulos drove his Certified Services, Signature Concrete Counter Tops racer to second on lap ten, followed by Taylor Occhipinti. The younger Occhipinti piloted his Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines mount to third and worked to close the gap on Fanopoulos while Fanopoulos closed on Lawson. Though they could keep pace with Lawson, neither Fanopoulos nor Occhipinti were able to mount a challenge as the newcomer from Caldwell, Idaho roared to the Project Filter Twin 25 sweep.
With his two victories Saturday, Lawson extended his win streak to four features. The Junior Stingers followed John Clever and Jody Moen to green for their final fifteen lap feature. On the break Moen, her earlier mechanical issues resolved, shot to the lead while first feature winner Dylan Wardle carved his way through the field to the top three on lap two.
Wardle’s Padgett Pest Control, Beauty from Ashes racer was quick, and the Meridian, Idaho racer hooked the inside line and blasted past Moen to take the lead at the race’s halfway point.
This dropped Moen’s Fast Lane Automotive, D.L. Evans machine into the clutches of Star, Idaho’s Delany Grace, who piloted her CP Express Vinyl, Splash and Dash machine around Moen to take second on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard. Though faster than the leader, Grace struggled to erase Wardle’s full straightaway lead until a caution bunched the field with three circuits left.
The green flag waved and Grace stormed past Wardle for the lead. Wardle, his eyes on the Military Appreciation Night sweep, wouldn’t settle for second and he raced back to Grace’s bumper on the white flag lap. But Wardle’s hard charge fell short as Grace raced across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe first to take home the night’s second Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.
The High School Tuners were next onto the quarter-mile asphalt oval for their second fifteen lap sprint race. Outside pole sitter Hannah Scott sped to the early lead, but Jett Nelson was fast and the Boise, Idaho driver took over the top spot on lap three. Behind Nelson’s YMC Mechanical machine, Cody Castricone and James Strikwerda wound their way through the field until the pair sat second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
Strikwerda got the best of the second place battle in his PBT Auto Sales entry, then with five laps left overtook Nelson for the lead. This left Nelson in the clutches of Castricone, who piloted his Fast Glass racer around the outside to the runner up spot. But Castricone ran out of time to mount a challenge and Strikwerda claimed his second Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag of Military Appreciation Night.
Fresh off his High School Tuner sweep, James Strikwerda hopped into his Coors Super Stock and lined up on the outside pole position for one final 25 lap feature. Strikwerda made the high line the place to be on the break as he raced his way to the lead. But the youngster soon faced fast company as Jamo Stephenson and Melissa Weaver made their way to second and third on the Pepsi-Cola scoreboard.
A lap eight restart lined Stephenson’s Big Al’s, The Ranch racer up outside of Strikwerda’s PBT Auto Sales machine for the green. Stephenson got the better of the restart and motored past Strikwerda while Weaver and first feature winner Daytona Wurtz worked to find their own way past Strikwerda.
Once clear of Strikwerda, an eight-lap battle ensued as Weaver pushed her way past Stephenson while simultaneously under attack from Wurtz. With nine laps left Weaver and Wurtz cleared Stephenson and the fight for first was on. Lapped traffic slowed Weaver’s Marv’s Tire Service, Dillon Performance Engines entry with six circuits left, which allowed Wurtz to issue a warning shot to the division dominator’s rear bumper. Wurtz wheeled her All Makes Auto Salvage, United Metals machine hard to keep pace with the leader, and with three laps to go the young Boise, Idaho racer slammed the front stretch wall. It was all Wurtz could to do to limp her stricken racer home, which left Weaver to cruise across the Caleb’s Chop Shop Victory Stripe and capture the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.
After a rough and tumble afternoon for the Project Filter Pro-4s, seven machines zipped to green for their second 25 lap tilt. On the green Ben Harris, his Kim’s Kars, H&H Auto racer newly rebuilt after a hard practice crash, edged to an early lead. But it was Eagle, Idaho racer Alex Duda, fresh off of two massive crashes in separate afternoon practice sessions who took control of the evening’s final feature on lap two.
Duda set the pace for five laps in his Boise Boys Transportation, Carbon Designs entry before Kenny Chandler found the handle on his Project Filter, Fairly Reliable Bob’s racer and motored to the lead. But Chandler wasn’t alone up front as first feature winner Jordan Harris went to work on his teammate and car owner for the top spot. Lap after lap Harris tried the inside line, and lap after lap Chandler held station in the lead.
With the white flag in the air Harris drove his Kim’s Kars, Challenger Auto machine deep into turn three, but Chandler would not be denied and the veteran campaigner from Kuna, Idaho took the Boise Boys Transportation Feature Flag.
Sixteen PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Modifieds shook the ground as they took the green for the final Project Filter Twin 25 of Military Appreciation Night. Meridian, Idaho’s Tim Wallace took advantage of his pole starting position and put his Westside Machine, Lucas Oil racer out front. Behind Wallace, Casey Tillman, victim of a first feature tangle with early-season rival Shelby Stroebel, worked his Ready Made Plastic Trays, Holly Company racer forward in his quest for a feature win.
Tillman took to the high line and marched to the lead after a lap five caution flag, with Star, Idaho’s Tony Ackerland and first main winner Wyatt King of Kuna, Idaho in tow. King worked his Major Tire and Hitch, machine past Ackerland on the high side and set to work reeling Tillman in. With seven laps left the leaders sped into a knot of lapped traffic and after two white knuckle laps a caution flag mercifully slowed and sorted the field.
The green flag waved again and King dove under Tillman, but Tillman kept his racer wound up and shot back to the lead. This would prove to be King’s last chance to make a pass as Tillman sprinted into the Caleb’s Chop Shop Winner’s Circle.
The Meridian Speedway season continues Monday, May 27 with Whelen Night at the Races. The NAPA Auto Parts Big 5 Late Models, PitStopUSA.com NASCAR Modifieds, Winged Pepsi Crate Cars, Project Filter Pro-4s, Domino’s Legends, and Big Daddy’s Barbecue Hornets close the Memorial Day Weekend in pursuit of the Racing for Smiles Feature Flags. General admission is just $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60+ and military members, and $7 for kids 7-11.
Gates open at 4:45 p.m. with racing at 6:45 p.m. Kids, bring a bike and a helmet for the Hungry Onion Bike Races held right after qualifying. Log on to www.meridianspeedway.com for the latest news from around the quarter-mile, and text ‘meridianspeed’ to 84483 to receive exclusive updates. We’ll see you Monday, May 27, under the big yellow water tower for Whelen Night at the Races at your NASCAR Home Track, Meridian Speedway.
Meridian Speedway PR
On the brink. Oh, so close.
Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman has heard the words and lived the sentiment.
The 26-year old driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has finished runner-up in the last three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season races and is “ready” to win doesn’t even begin to describe the emotion he brings to Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Bowman is the first driver in NASCAR’s Modern Era (1972-Present) to finish second in three consecutive Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races before having earned his first career series win.
And what’s especially impressive about Bowman’s feat is that he has done it at three widely-different venues – from the Talladega Superspeedway 2.66-mile high banks, to the challenging Dover International Speedway’s one-mile concrete oval to the Kansas Speedway 1.5-miler just before last week’s All-Star break. And the Margin of Victory in each? Equally as different – from a caution flag finish at Talladega to a 9.5-second Martin Truex Jr. runaway win at Dover to a scant 0.205-second near-miss at Kansas.
“I’m really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, our race cars are so much better than what we started the year with," Bowman said, after his Kansas Speedway thriller. “I’m really appreciative.
“I wish we were standing here with three wins in a row and things had gone differently and that be the case, but we’ll keep digging."
In the Modern Era (1972-Present) drivers have finished runner-up in three consecutive races before – 14 times. The last was Kyle Larson in 2017 when he was second at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix. NASCAR Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip (1978 and 1983) and Jeff Gordon (1998 and 1999) are the only to accomplish the mark in multiple seasons.
Waltrip (1983), Mark Martin (1998) along with Harry Gant (1985) scored four consecutive runner-up finishes.
Waltrip’s string of seconds in 1983 happened at Nashville, Tenn., Pocono, Pa., Talladega, Ala., and Michigan and then he put an exclamation mark on the run with a win the next week at Bristol, Tenn.
Gant was second place four times (at Dover, Charlotte, Riverside and Pocono) and Martin was runner-up in four straight races in 1998 (at New Hampshire, Pocono, Indianapolis, and Watkins Glen). As with Bowman, Martin’s mark was especially impressive considering the variety of venues – from the New Hampshire one-miler to 2.5-mile tracks in Pocono and Indy and then the Watkins Glen road course.
NASCAR’s all-time winningest driver Richard Petty’s work in the 1975 season was especially impressive too. He bookended his three straight second-place finishes with wins. … and more second-place finishes. He won the summer race at Daytona, had three straight second-place showings at Nashville, Pocono, Talladega and then won at Michigan, was a runner-up at Darlington and won back-to-back events at Dover and North Wilkesboro - eight races in a row where he finished first or second.
That’s the high end of some positive precedent for Bowman.
Three of the 12 drivers to previously score three straight runner-up finishes – earned victories in the next race. Along with Petty, Jeff Gordon capped his second place showings with a trophy. He was runner-up at Dover, Michigan and Pocono then went on to win the next race on the Sonoma road course from the pole position.
Kyle Larson similarly capped a three-race runner-up streak with a win from the pole position. Larson finished runner-up at Atlanta, Las Vegas and ISM Raceway then closed out the 2017 Western Swing with a victory at Auto Club Speedway. In all Larson scored eight runner-up finishes and four wins that season.
Although understandably disappointed – even frustrated – to be so close to that career-defining first victory, Bowman has handled the situation well. He’s 12th in the championship standings and his 86 laps out front have all come in the last three races. Plus, he was a career-best ninth in the Coca-Cola 600 last year.
“It’s absolutely a good day for everyone at Hendrick Motorsports," Bowman said after climbing out of the car in Kansas. “We all had really competitive cars and we really appreciate everyone’s hard work to continue to build our cars and continue to get better like we have.
“It was a really good day. My family is from here, so it would have been pretty cool. Probably the two closest times I have been to winning was my hometown and my dad’s hometown, so it’s just frustrating.
“We will get one soon.”