William Byron has attended races at Charlotte Motor Speedway since childhood. On Sunday, all eyes will be on the 21-year-old Charlotte, North Carolina, native when he leads the field to green for the 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600. Byron became the youngest Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole winner in the speedway's history during Spectrum Pole Night on Thursday, rocketing to the pole with a 29.440-second, 183.424-mile-per-hour lap.
Byron edged 2012 Coca-Cola 600 pole winner Aric Almirola by .057 seconds. Almirola will start second ahead of defending race winner Kyle Busch and 2017 event winner Austin Dillon. Two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Kevin Harvick rolls off fifth on Sunday.
Daniel Suarez starts sixth with Joey Logano seventh, Clint Bowyer eighth and Ricky Stenhouse ninth. Rookie Daniel Hemric qualified 10th.
WILLIAM BYRON, No. 24 Liberty University Chevrolet (Pole Winner): "Winning the pole is a good first step for this weekend. After all those nights of running the Summer Shootout and Winter Heat around here (as a child), I spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to run the big track. It’s really cool (to win the pole on it). I’ve run one (Coca-Cola 600) here and it didn’t go so great, so the one thought I’ve had in my head this week was to make it better this year, because honestly it was miserable last year. I’ve taken that and used it as added motivation for this year. … I don’t really like having the ‘youngest’ term attached to me. I’ve always been the young guy. … I really just look at myself as a race car driver.”
Tickets, camping and upgrades to the 60th running of the Coca-Cola 600 are available by visiting charlottemotorspeedway.com/
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Success at Talladega: New 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class Made Their Mark at NASCAR's Most Competitive Track24 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
All five of the 2020 NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020 that were announced Wednesday have incredible ties to NASCAR’s Most Competitive track – Talladega Superspeedway.
The five-person group – the 11th since the inception of the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2010 – consists of Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Waddell Wilson. The distinguished group, which will be honored during the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Jan. 31, 2020, made their mark at Talladega’s 2.66-mile venue, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Here’s a look at each:
At six feet, six inches tall, Buddy Baker was often called the “Gentle Giant,” but behind the wheel he had a lead foot and knew only wide open. On March 24, 1970, he became the first driver to officially eclipse the 200-mile per hour mark on a closed-course while testing at Talladega in a winged Dodge. His speed in his blue No. 88 machine was 200.447 mph was then a world record. Baker is also a member of the International Motorsports Hall of Fame, located just outside Talladega Superspeedway’s Turn 4.
After sweeping both race victories in 1975 while driving for Bud Moore, he came back in spring of ’76 for his third straight triumph, a consecutive record he would hold until Dale Earnhardt Jr. reeled off four in-a-row from 2001-03. His fourth and final TSS win came in the spring of 1980, driving the familiar No. 28 “Gray Ghost” to Gatorade Victory Lane after claiming the season-opening Daytona 500 earlier that year. In a 33-year career, he won 19 races in NASCAR’s premier series. After retiring in 1992, Baker made a successful transition to the television booth as a commentator for The Nashville Network and CBS, and later as a radio co-host on Late Shift and Tradin’ Paint for SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach started Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) in 1992 and has led the organization to four Cup Series championships and five Xfinity Series titles. Known as a master motivator, Gibbs’ 164 Cup Series owner wins (through May 22, 2019) rank third all-time. Four of those wins have come at Talladega’s 33-degree banked facility, and with four different drivers.
Fellow 2020 Hall of Fame inductee Labonte wheeled his No. 18 to the winner’s circle first in the summer of 1998 for JGR, and 10 years later, the duo of Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart made it a Gibbs’ sweep in 2008. Denny Hamlin was the last to take the checkers in spring of 2014. He also has five victories at Talladega in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Referred to in NASCAR circles has simply “Coach,” Gibbs was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
The ultimate grinder, Labonte raced any car he could get behind the wheel of before he got his first break as a full-time Cup Series driver at 28 years old in 1993. His persistence paid off with a career highlighted by 21 trips to Victory Lane and the 2000 Cup Series title. His ’98 Talladega triumph was a nail biter, and one of brotherly love. With just two laps to go, Labonte slipped past leader - and his brother – Terry, then held on for the win by a mere .167-second over Jimmy Spencer. Terry fell to fourth at the finish.
A success in all three of NASCAR’s national series, Bobby was the first of four drivers to win both a Cup and Xfinity Series championship. He is also one of 27 drivers to win a race in all three national series.
Known as “The People’s Champion” for his blue-collar, hard-nosed style of competition, Stewart actually claimed two first-place finishes at Talladega, both in 2008. He started the year with a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series event in April then came back in the fall with a controversial Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win after Regan Smith’s pass of leader Stewart coming through the tri-oval on the final lap was below the yellow line, which was against NASCAR rules.
Stewart immediately showed that he would be a force to be reckoned with in NASCAR – earning three victories in his Rookie of the Year season in 1999. The titles soon followed. Stewart won his first Cup championship in 2002 driving for Gibbs and answered that quickly in 2005. His versatility was on display throughout his 17-year NASCAR career. He tallied 49 wins in the Cup Series – winning on every style of track. He won 16 times as a driver/owner including one of the most memorable championship pursuits in history in 2011.
A dual threat as an engine builder and crew chief, Wilson powered and guided cars to some of the biggest victories in NASCAR history. While building the engines and calling the shots atop the pit box, he guided three drivers to four wins at the world’s greatest track in Talladega. In addition to Baker’s win in 1980, he backed it up a year later with Bobby Allison in ’81, then went back-to-back again in 1984-85 with Cale Yarborough. In addition, in 1982, he built the engine that helped Benny Parsons to break the 200 mph barrier for the first time in official NASCAR qualifying at 200.176 mph.
As an engine builder, Wilson supplied the power that helped David Pearson (1968, ’69) and Parsons (1973) to Cup Series titles. Overall, Wilson’s engines helped some of the greatest drivers to ever wheel a car – including NASCAR Hall of Famers Pearson, Fireball Roberts, Allison, Yarborough and Darrell Waltrip – to 109 wins and 123 poles.
The Class of 2020 was determined by votes cast by the Voting Panel, including representatives from NASCAR, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, track owners from major facilities and historic short tracks, media members, manufacturer representatives, competitors (drivers, owners, crew chiefs), recognized industry leaders, a nationwide fan vote conducted through NASCAR.com and, for the sixth year, the reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion (Joey Logano). In all, 57 votes were cast, with two additional Voting Panel members recused from voting as potential nominees for induction (Ricky Rudd and Waddell Wilson). The accounting firm of EY presided over the tabulation of the votes.
The five inductees came from a group of 20 nominees that included, in addition to the five inductees chosen: Sam Ard, Neil Bonnett, Original Alabama Gang member Red Farmer, Ray Fox, Harry Gant, John Holman, Harry Hyde, Hershel McGriff, Ralph Moody, Marvin Panch, Jim Paschal, Larry Phillips, Ricky Rudd, Mike Stefanik and Red Vogt.
In addition, NASCAR announced that Edsel Ford II earned the 2020 Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions to NASCAR.
For ticket information on the track's NASCAR doubleheader playoff weekend, which will consist of the Sugarlands Shine 250 and the 1000Bulbs.com 500, and all things on Transformation – The Talladega Superspeedway Infield Project presented by Graybar and the all new Talladega Garage Experience where fans will be immersed into the sport unlike never before, log onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-7223 (RACE).
Ty Majeski earned his first Arca victory last night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Majeski took the lead with only 5 laps remaining in the 100 scheduled lap event in Thursday night's General Tire 150.
Majeski, who ran 12 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series last year as part of the Ford driver development program with Roush Fenway Racing sadly lost his ride at the end of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
"This is unbelievable," Majeski told FS1. "I lost my ride this year, it was January or February before we finally put this deal together. Chad took a chance on me. We both had a lot to prove.
To start the overtime finish, Majeski lined up with Gus Dean who runs a full-time schedule in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series and last year's Arca champion Sheldon Creed. Creed would pass Dean on the restart but couldn't challenge Majeski for the victory.
Rounding out the top five were Sheldon Creed in second, Gus Dean in third, Harrison Burton in fourth and Michael Self finished in fifth.
The Arca Menards Series will head into Pocono Speedway on May 31, 2019 at 5:30 PM ET on Fox Sports 1.
On Thursday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski opined that the Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolets were the fastest cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series garage.
Turns out he was right—about one of them, at least.
As twilight approached at the 1.5-mile intermediate track, William Byron turned a lap in 29.440 seconds (183.424 mph) in his No. 24 Chevy to win the pole position for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), earning the distinction as the youngest pole winner in the 60-year history of NASCAR’s longest race—and at Charlotte Motor Speedway, for that matter.
In winning his second Busch Pole Award of the season and the second of his fledgling career, the 21-year-old Charlotte native was .057 seconds faster than second-place qualifier Aric Almirola, who turned a lap at 183.069 mph in his No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford.
“This is a dream come true,” Byron said, after watching teammate Alex Bowman fall short as the final driver to make a qualifying run. “Obviously, I grew up in Charlotte and came to this race every year. So it’s a dream come true to qualify on the pole with Hendrick Motorsports just across the street and all the hard work and everybody at Chevrolet giving us fast race cars.
“This is pretty cool. I can’t think of a better way to start the weekend.”
Kyle Busch was third in the fastest Toyota at 182.933 mph. Austin Dillon qualified fourth, followed by Stewart-Haas teammates Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez.
Byron is seeking his first Cup victory, but his crew chief, seven-time champion Chad Knaus, has four wins in the Coke 600, and Byron feels their level of communication has been on an upswing.
“Yeah, just the dialogue we have in the hauler or transporter or whatever you want to call it,” Byron said. “We go back and forth on communication changes. It’s starting to improve for us, and that’s where the speed is coming from. Also, the cars are getting faster. So this is really exciting.”
Joey Logano was seventh fastest, followed by Clint Bowyer, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daniel Hemric, as Ford drivers nailed down six of the top 10 positions on the grid.
Keselowski, who qualified 21st, was slightly off the mark about the other three Hendrick cars. Chase Elliott qualified 12th, Bowman 13th and seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson 15th. Johnson, who has eight victories at Charlotte, hopes to break a winless streak that has reached 71 races.
“There are three of our Hendrick cars right there with us,” Johnson said. “The 24 (Byron) had an incredible lap, so we’ll try to dig in and see just how committed they were to qualifying. I think we were a bit more in a race scenario, the way it looks at my quick glance, but we just have to stick together as a group.
“The fact that three of our cars were there and so close in speed is a great starting spot for all of us. We had a couple of cars that ran good in the All-Star Race (last Saturday) and a couple that didn’t. Mine was one that didn’t. To piggy-back on what those guys had going on is the goal for us this weekend, and we’ll see how that translates to the race.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in 2011, but he got his money’s worth in his debut at NASCAR’s highest level.
Driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford for the only time in his career, Stenhouse completed all 402 laps of a Coca-Cola 600 that went overtime.
“Don’t do what I did,” Stenhouse said of his first foray with NASCAR’s elite. “My first start was in the 600. I hit the wall of Lap 9. We qualified ninth. I hit the wall I think two more times after that. But it ended up, the way everything worked out, we ended up finishing 11th.
“I had a really fast car, but you’ve got to be patient. I think this race… I’ve been good during the day and struggled at night. I’ve had cars where you kind of stay the same throughout the whole night. I do think that, with this (2019) package, you’re going to have a lot of comers and goers when the temperature changes and the sun goes down.”
Stenhouse believes last Saturday’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race may be a good predictor of what happens in the Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“I felt like my car, during the day in practice (for the All-Star race), was driving really good and had OK speed,” Stenhouse said. “But once it cooled off, everybody else’s car started driving better, and the ones with more speed prevailed, so we struggled when the sun went down.
“So we brought a little bit different package here (for the 600) versus the ideas that we had going into the All-Star Race.”
Even though Stenhouse’s first Cup start came in NASCAR’s longest race, he doesn’t view the grind of 600 miles as a negative.
“It wasn’t hard to begin with,” he said. “It’s just more laps. I put a ton of training in anyway. Even when I didn’t put a ton of training in, I felt prepared. Hydration is key, and I feel like everybody in the garage is a lot smarter than they used to be when it comes to hydration. That’s the key.”
FOR KYLE LARSON, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TROPHY, NOT THE MONEY
Last Saturday night, after transferring from the Monster Energy Open, Kyle Larson held off Kevin Harvick to win $1 million in the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
On Wednesday night at Millbridge Speedway near Salisbury, N.C., Larson wheeled an Outlaw Kart to victory in the 51-lap main event and collected a total of $6,401, including lap money.
But for Larson, it’s not about the cash.
“I was born a race car driver, so that’s really all I ever think about, especially this time of year when I have a lot of race to look forward to,” Larson said. “I would like to race a car every day if I could.”
“I’d race for 500 bucks. I felt like I had to race even harder to win that race last night (at Millbridge). It feels just as good. Especially, last night felt really good with all the issues that I had throughout the night with my kart and engine and wing and pipe and all of it. To get the win was really cool.”
The All-Star race win, however, may mean more in the overall scheme of things. It was a welcome boost for a driver who has endured a skein of hard luck in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet this year.
“Winning always helps confidence,” Larson said. “And even with the struggles we’ve had this year, I haven’t really felt like I’ve lost confidence in being able to run good. It’s been bad luck that’s made us have bad finishes, not us running around 25th.
“I feel like we’re always running around the top 10 when we have our issues. I feel like we’ve always been pretty close, so to get that win last week was sweet. I hope it can help the momentum and confidence.”
DRIVER SHANE LEE TO HEADLINE NEW NASCAR XFINITY SERIES TEAM
Shane Lee proved his mettle in 13 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with Richard Childress Racing last year, posting three top 10s and best finish of fourth at Kansas Speedway.
With the advent of H2 Motorsports, headed by entrepreneur and venture capitalist Matt Hurley, Lee will make his 2019 debut in the No. 28 Toyota Supra at Iowa Speedway in mid-June and continue in the car throughout the balance of the season.
Former Furniture Row Racing competition director Pete Rondeau will serve as Lee’s crew chief. Circuit City will sponsor the car.
“I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Lee said during Thursday’s announcement of the new venture at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “It’s a great opportunity for me. I met Matt at a couple of races last year, and we talked about a racing deal.
“Probably about January, he talked about wanting to get into racing, and we just sort of went from there. He went down the line and hired some really good people. We got the sponsorship from Circuit City, and then with TRD (Toyota Racing Development) coming on board, it gave us credibility.”
William Byron will start from the pole position in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Driver No. 24 claimed the top spot with a qualifying speed of 183. 424 mph. With his pole on Thursday, Byron becomes the youngest Coca-Cola 600 pole-sitter.
For Byron, this is his second pole of his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series career. His first pole came at this year's Daytona 500.
"This is awesome, a dream come true," Byron told FS1 after qualifying. "Obviously, i grew up in Charlotte so i came to this race every year. It's a dream come true to qualify on the pole next to Hendrick Motorsports across the street over there. Can't think of a better way to start the weekend.
This is Hendrick Motorsports 12th pole in the 600, which leads above all teams.
Rounding out the top five were Aric Almirola in second (183.069 mph), Kyle Busch in third (182.933 mph), Austin Dillion in fourth (182.766 mph) and Kevin Harvick in fifth (182.741 mph).
Due to inspection issues several weeks ago in Kansas, Chase Elliott was forced to qualify early and would end up 12th. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson will start 15th.
Kyle Larson, who won last Saturday's Monster Energy All-Star Race, will start in the 25th position on Sunday.
Live coverage of the 60th annual Coca-Cola 600 begins on Sunday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern on FOX.
Andretti Autosport clearly found the perfect setup combination this afternoon during single-car qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as Robert Megennis led the Indianapolis-based team to an emphatic sweep of the top four starting positions for tomorrow’s Freedom 100 Presented by Cooper Tires. Megennis, 19, from New York, N.Y., will start from the pole position for the jewel in the crown of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season at the historic 2.5-mile “Brickyard” oval, with teammate Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., alongside on the front row.
Ryan Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, and Indianapolis native Jarett Andretti, making his Indy Lights debut for his uncle Michael’s team, will share row two of the grid tomorrow. Championship leader Rinus VeeKay, from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, will start a lowly ninth for Juncos Racing.
Overnight rain and thunderstorms caused track activities to be delayed a little this morning, but the weather conditions improved dramatically to ensure the Indy Lights teams were able to complete their scheduled 45 minutes of practice in advance of qualifying. Megennis, who claimed his first pole – and race win – two weeks ago on the Indianapolis Grand Prix road course, laid down a marker by posting the fastest lap of 45.8135 seconds for an average speed of 196.449 mph.
Warm and humid atmospheric conditions allied to a blustery wind this afternoon that left several teams scratching their heads and ensured slower speeds for qualifying. But while some teams struggled, the first sign that Andretti Autosport had found the sweet spot with their stable of Dallara-AER IL-15s came when Andretti, running third as the qualifying order was set by the reverse of championship positions, jumped immediately to the top with a two-lap average of 192.822 mph.
Norman, who took to the track sixth in line, was the first to eclipse Andretti’s mark with a two-lap run at 193.033 mph. Then, after the two BN Racing/Team Pelfrey drivers, David Malukas, from Chicago, Ill., and Englishman Toby Sowery, posted respective averages of 191.304 mph and 192.178 mph, it was Megennis’ turn to take over at the top. His first lap was the first to top the 194 mph mark, and while his second lap was fractionally slower at 193.992 mph, it was comfortably enough to establish himself at the top with only teammate Askew and VeeKay yet to make their two-lap runs.
Askew’s first lap was fractionally quicker than Megennis’ two-lap average but, in common with all bar Malukas, who had been unable to turn any meaningful laps during practice due to a mechanical problem, his second lap wasn’t quite fast enough to prevent Megennis from claiming his second pole of the season.
VeeKay, the final runner, managed a two-lap average of 192.124 mph, mere fractions adrift of Juncos Racing teammate Dalton Kellett and Sowery, good enough for only ninth on the grid, but if there was any consolation, his two laps were the most consistent – separated by a scant 0.009 – of the entire field.
Current NBCSN NTT IndyCar Series television broadcast analysts and former Indy Lights champions Townsend Bell (2001) and Paul Tracy (1990) will give the command to start engines for tomorrow’s Freedom 100 Presented by Cooper Tires at 12:55 p.m. EDT. The green flag for the 40-lap race will be waved by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion and current INDYCAR Race Steward Arie Luyendyk at 1:05 p.m.
The remarkable story of British Formula car racer Billy Monger will be featured on Sunday morning’s edition of ESPN’s award-winning newsmagazine show E:60. The program airs at 8 a.m. ET on ESPN2.
Just last weekend, 20-year-old Monger won the first race of his young career at the prestigious Pau Grand Prix. The win itself was remarkable, but the story behind the win: extraordinary.
Just over two years ago, Monger suffered life-changing injuries when doctors were forced to amputate his legs after a horrific crash at Donington Park in Derby, England. Despite his injuries, less than one year after the accident, improbably, he was back racing again.
Now driving a car specially modified for his condition, Monger is not only racing, but he has dazzled, and his dream to become the first disabled Formula 1 driver, against all odds, remains in reach.