VHT Changes Complexion of Coca-Cola 600
CONCORD, N.C— Before the Coca-Cola 600 weekend began, VHT was added to the high groove at Charlotte Motor Speedway after a lackluster Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race the weekend prior.
This was the first time VHT was applied on an asphalt track. Many drivers came into the race cautiously optimistic about the VHT on the track.
After Saturday’s Xfinity race, NASCAR and Charlotte Motor Speedway officials applied more VHT to the groove because many drivers weren’t optimistic after the race.
Before the rain fell, drivers were itching their way into the groove with VHT. Kurt Busch attempted to run in the VHT groove during the race, but compared it to driving on ice.
After the race, Martin Truex Jr and Austin Dillon explained how the VHT changed the complexion of the race.
“I think it was a huge factor. I think last weekend the middle groove, middle to high middle, was nonexistent. It was the slickest part of the racetrack. Tonight for 375 laps of the 400 it was the main groove. Where typically there is the least grip on this racetrack, it was the most tonight,” said Truex. “It definitely played a factor. It changed the race quite a bit. I think the downforce rules this year changed it quite a bit as well. The bottom of the racetrack is so bumpy and so slick, I'm telling you after 10 laps it's all you can do to make laps without crashing down there. It definitely changed the race tonight. It made it a lot of fun, I thought. I thought it was a good addition.”
“I think it was pretty good to start the race. The middle groove took away from the bottom lane, which is pretty dominate here. After the rain, the bottom was pretty dominate. As the race went on, I could actually see the VHT leaving the track, and was getting clean higher and higher,” said Dillon.
When asked if VHT should be used on other asphalt tracks, Truex doesn’t believe it should be used on other asphalt tracks. However, Dillon would like to see it used more.
“I don't think so. I think this track is so unique, the pavement here, the geometry of the racetrack, the bumps that are in it. It's almost got a concrete feel the way the bumps are. They're really, really small, high-frequency bumps, almost like a washboard, kind of the feeling you get at Dover. Most asphalt tracks are not bumpy that way. They're more of a swell. The car kind of goes through swells, a place like Chicago or Atlanta. It's very, very different here. The pavement is different than anywhere we go,” said Truex. “The bumps in the racetrack are way different than anywhere we go. I think both of those things kind of contribute to us needing to do some different things here to change up the racing. I think it was a good addition tonight. I don't know what it would have been like had we not had it. The bottom was so slippery, I don't know if it would have been a good race or not. Just hard to say.
“We got something there as far as trying it. It’s not a bad thing. I really think we should try it more often. I think the next thing we need to look into is the placement of it. We needed more on the very top because the middle was really dominate, but you couldn’t really get into the top of it like you needed to. That would be my next thing. I like it,” said Dillon.
As the sport continues to enhance competition, VHT may be next on the list.
CONCORD, N.C.— In a race that was dominated by Martin Truex, Jr., it was Austin Dillon who made it to victory lane at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 after pushing the limits in the gas tank.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t believe it. I was just really focused on those last laps. My fiancé wrote in the car, ‘When you keep God in the first place, he will take you places you never imagined.’ And, I never imagined to be here at the 600 Victory Lane,” said Dillon. “Praise the Lord and all these guys who work so hard; and my pit crew is the best on pit road. I love it for them. We’re in the Chase. It’s awesome.”
This is Dillon’s first career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. This is Dillon’s first race with crew chief, Justin Alexander, on top of the pit-box. This is his first victory in 133 races. Dillon becomes the 10th driver to score his first career victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
When many drivers were hitting pit road for tires and fuel, Dillon, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, and Joey Logano stayed out in an effort to conserve fuel and make it to the end. Johnson had the race in the bag, but ran out of fuel going down the backstretch on lap 398. Dillon was able to conserve enough fuel to score the victory. Dillon ran out of fuel right as the checkered flag fell. Dillon was able to make it back around for one victory spin.
After running towards the front for majority of the night, Kyle Busch finished in the second position. Busch was able to get out front in the opening stage of the race to score the one playoff and 10 championship points. Busch led 63 laps, but fell short of victory to finish second at Charlotte.
“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight. It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) was probably the fastest car. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so so disappointed,” said Busch. “I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.”
After dominating majority of the race, Truex Jr was unable to catch Dillon on fresh tires. On his final march to the lead, Truex used up his tires quickly and was unable to catch Ky. Busch and A. Dillon. Truex was able to finish in the third position after leading 233 of the 400 laps. With his performance tonight, Truex was able to snag the points lead from Kyle Larson.
“That stings a little bit, but can’t say enough about the guys on the team and everybody in Denver. Everybody on this Bass Pro Toyota did a heck of a job today. We just – we missed it a little bit on our last adjustment. I think if not for that we probably could’ve gotten the 3 (Austin Dillon), said Truex. “And then lapped traffic is just so tough here. There’s a few guys out there that you don’t ever know where they’re going to be when you get to the corner and it cost you so much time trying to pass them, ultimately that’s what got us. It is what it is. Like I said, we’re proud of everybody at TRD, at Toyota, Bass Pro and all the partners. Just came up a little short tonight.”
Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Kevin Harvick, Newman, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top-10.
The Coca-Cola 600 was stopped shortly after lap 143 due to a brief rain shower. The red flag lasted one hour, 36 minutes, and 59 seconds for track drying operation. The caution flew a total of nine times for 53 laps. There were 23 lead changes among 10 different drivers.
Truex assumed a five point lead over Larson. Keselowski sits in the third position 82 points behind Truex. Kevin Harvick sits fourth in points only 103 points behind Truex. Ky. Busch rounds out the top-five in points only 105 points behind Truex.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams is a trip to Dover International Speedway for the AAA 400 Driver For Autism. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network beginning at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Blaney Scores First NXS Charlotte Win
CONCORD, N.C— After multiple restarts in the final 20 laps, Ryan Blaney scored his first win of 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Hisense 4K TV 300.
“It was really tough. We kept having tons and tons of cautions,” Blaney said. “We lost the lead on a pit stop when we kind of got blocked in and I wasn’t sure I was going to get a shot at it. It worked out where we could put ourselves in position to get the win and we capitalized on it. Everybody did a great job.”
This is Blaney’s first win since September of 2015 at Kentucky Speedway. This is his fifth victory 56 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, and his first win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Blaney and his father, Dave, are the first father-son duo to win at Charlotte.
Blaney was able to hold of Austin Dillon and Kevin Harvick on a late race restart with four laps remaining. Blaney worked his way towards the front of the field after starting in the rear due to unapproved adjustments after the car was impounded after qualifying.
Harvick finished second in the race after not being able to receive any help on the final restart by Blaney and Brad Keselowski. This is Harvick’s 18th top-10 finish in 28 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and his third top-10 of 2017.
“If I could do (the final restart) again I would probably do it differently. I felt like the 12 (Blaney) had the best car on restarts. He was the one who helped us get the lead. Just wasn’t able to get going through one and two. I needed to be clear by the time I got to three and four. I hadn’t been taking the top but I felt if the 12 and 22 got paired up on the top, I would be in double trouble,” said Harvick. I had a heck of a time today. All in all, I just got beat there by the 12. He did a good job all day there on the restarts. I’m really proud of everybody on the team. We ran well and led a bunch of laps.”
Dillon finished in the third position in the race following having to go to the rear after an initial start violation in the opening laps. Dillon dropped to the rear, but was able to work his way to the third position by race end. This was Dillon’s sixth top-10 finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“We did a really good job. Our Chevy really came to us. I hate it for our pit crew there. I messed up on the start. There at the end, I had a Penske sandwich. I couldn’t do much about it. I got hit on the restart but it wasn’t enough to carry me to the front. We had a lot of fun today,” said Dillon. “The track changed and we are trying to figure out what we need here. We’re getting closer.”
Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Cole Custer, Brennan Poole, Brendan Gaughan, and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 in Saturday afternoon’s event.
The race was slowed 12 times for 52 laps by caution. There were 12 lead changes among seven drivers with leading the most laps at . The average speed of the race was 113.720 mph. The time of the race was two hours, 38 minutes, and 17 seconds. Blaney beat Harvick by 0.244 seconds,
Elliott Sadler remains the point leader after his 35th place finish by six points over teammate Justin Allgaier, 57 points over William Byron, 79 points over Daniel Hemric, and 83 points over fifth place driver, Darrell Wallace Jr.
Next up for the Xfinity Series is the OneMain Financial 200, a Dash4Cash event, from Dover International Raceway. The race will be broadcasted on Motor Racing Network and Fox Sports 1 on June 3rd at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Penalty Report: Phoenix - Harvick and Keselowski Hit with L1 Penalties
Three days removed from the Camping World 500 at Phoenix, massive penalties were handed down to the teams of two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick.
Keselowski and his No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford team finished fifth in the 314-lap race but that finish will now be encumbered as they failed post-race inspection. Along with crew chief Paul Wolfe being suspended for the next three races and fined $65,000, the team also loses 35 driver and owner points. This is known as a L1 penalty. Although he already has a win from Atlanta a few weeks ago, Keselowski took a hit in the points standings, moving from second to fourth.
Harvick’s team was also assessed a L1 penalty for an unimproved track bar mount, which was discovered earlier today at the NASCAR R&D Center in Concord, NC. Crew chief Rodney Childers has been, suspended for the upcoming weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, fined $25,000. The No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford team also lost 10 driver and owner points, which bumped Harvick from seventh in the MENCS standings to ninth.
According to NBC Sports’ NASCAR America, the No. 2 team will evaluate on whether to appeal. The car returned to the shop from the west coast and the area that NASCAR found to be violated is being evaluated as well. While there has been no word from Stewart-Haas Racing on whether the team will appeal or who will sub for Childers, Brian Wilson, former chief engineer on the Keselowski team will be on the pit box in California.
After running into Cole Custer under caution during the NXS race in Phoenix, the DC Solar 200, Austin Dillon will not be penalized. The driver of the No. 2 Rheem Chevrolet was parked after 190 laps.
AJ Allmendinger’s No. 47 Chevrolet crew chief Randall Burnett has sat out of the west coast swing after only 17 of 20 lugnuts were found tight at Atlanta. Burnett was fined $65,000 and suspended for three races. The team’s appeal was upheld earlier today.