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.
CONCORD, N.C.— The days for Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski ended early in the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Both drivers finished the race 38th and 39th respectively.
As Jeffrey Earnhardt was coming off the fourth turn on lap 21 something broke in the rear end of the car. The object that broke went into the front end of Elliott’s car causing a fire. Keselowski was coming from behind and rammed into the back of Elliott, due to “oil” on the track.
“Somebody broke and there was just oil everywhere and I couldn’t turn. I ran into the back of Chase. Somebody broke in front of him and then he ran over what they broke and then he broke, so there were two cars broke in front of me and just oil everywhere,” said Keselowski. “You couldn’t stop and turn. You couldn’t do anything. It’s a real bummer four our team. We had a really fast Miller Lite Ford and I think we had a shot at winning tonight, but that’s how it goes.”
“This is so disappointing. Our NAPA Chevy was going to be all right as the night went along. But the No. 33 (Jeffrey Earnhardt) broke something, I guess, and I hit it hard and I saw some fire. And I guess I was laying down some oil all at the same time. And Brad (Keselowski) couldn’t get stopped. I hate it. It’s such a bummer. We’ll just go after it again next week,” said Chase Elliott.
Although the drivers involved claimed there was oil on the track, NASCAR officials saw no oil on the track during the caution period.
Elliott finished 38th, Keselowski finished 39th, and Earnhardt finished 40th.
CONCORD, N.C— Kevin Harvick will start from the pole in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is Harvick’s first pole for the 600 and his third pole of 2017. This is Stewart-Haas Racing’s 33rd pole since its inception in 2009.
“The cars in qualifying were a lot looser than they were in practice and just based on past experience here it was a handful through one and two. I just about lost it the first run, but the car was so good in three and four I didn’t want to overadjust on it and make it too tight down there because you get tighter as the lap runs, so the guys did a good job of making adjustments, but not making it so tight that I couldn’t carry the throttle like I needed to in three and four. So they just did a great job on our Mobil 1 Ford,” said Harvick.
In the opening round, Kyle Busch was fastest at 191.381 mph. Denny Hamlin was second fastest at 191.008 mph. Erik Jones was third fastest at 190.799 mph. Matt Kenseth posted the fourth fasted speed in the round at 190.752 mph. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounded out the top-five at 190.638 mph. No drivers were sent home as the 40 cars showed up. Corey LaJoie and Kyle LAtson
In the second round, Harvick posted the fastest time at 193.237 mph. Ky. Busch posted the second fastest speed in the round 193.223 mph. Chase Elliott posted the third fastest speed in the round at 191.734 mph. Clint Bowyer posted the fourth fastest speed at 191.673 mph. Martin Truex, Jr. rounded out the top-five in the second round at 191.605 mph.
In the final round, Harvick posted a speed of 193.424 mph to grab the pole. Ky. Busch posted a speed of 192.513 mph for the second position, Elliott posted the third fastest time at 192.260 mph, Kenseth posted the fourth fastest speed at 192.130 mph, and E. Jones posted the fifth fastest speed to round out the top-five on Sunday at 191.782 mph. Hamlin, Blaney, Truex, Bowyer, and Keselowski rounded out the top-10.
Friday will be a dark day at Charlotte Motor Speedway for teams. Teams will have two practice sessions on Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. EST and 11:30 a.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.
CONCORD, N.C— It is another venue with the same problems when it comes to pre-qualifying inspection. Numerous teams were unable to pass the LIS station before the green flag flew for qualifying. This issue has been going on since Atlanta.
Teams are given the chance before practice begins to roll through inspection as a courtesy. Many teams take that courtesy check of their cars. However, official tech inspection is done after practice and before qualifying. All teams are given the chance to pass inspection before those that have failed can come back through. In today’s session, all drivers were given that chance to pass on the first try.
Unlike previous weeks, Kyle Larson and Corey LaJoie were the only two drivers who did not post a time in Thursday’s qualifying session from Charlotte Motor Speedway. Larson and his team were able to pass inspection with roughly one minute remaining in the opening round of qualifying.
Larson was furious about not being ale to pass LIS and attempt to make a lap on the track. Because of the issues, Larson will start from the 39th position on Sunday.
“We’ll start last instead of from the pole. I guess I’m upset at myself for getting into the wall in practice there because it put us behind on getting to the tech line. We still failed a couple of times. The machine wouldn’t work there, late, and it cost us a minute or minute and a half, and we actually passed,” said Larson. “But we didn’t have enough time to get out there. Had the machine worked, maybe we would have made it out there for that round. I don’t know. I won’t speak too much on it because I don’t know much about how that whole tech process works. I know all the teams hate it. The teams point at NASCAR. NASCAR points at the teams. It’s confusing to me.”
NASCAR Officials were standing by Larson when he made those comments. NASCAR confirmed that the LIS machine was working properly, but his team was unable to roll the car onto the platform correctly.
It is a constant battle of teams blaming NASCAR and NASCAR blaming teams, but who is in the right? The NASCAR community will never know.