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NASCAR National Series News & Notes -- Charlotte

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Coca-Cola 600
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 28
The Time: 6 p.m. ET
TV: FOX, 5:30 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 XFINITY Series
Next Race: Hisense 4K TV 300
The Place: Charlotte Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, May 27
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 300 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Next Race: Bar Harbor 200 presented by Sea Watch International
The Place: Dover International Speedway
The Date: Friday, June 2
The Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 5 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 45), Stage 2 (Ends on lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

Busch Breaks Through At Charlotte With All-Star Win, Eyes Sweep In Coca-Cola 600

Kyle Busch finally notched his first Charlotte Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win by speeding to victory in the final stage of the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race.

He’ll go for his first points-paying win at the 1.5-mile track and a sweep of the Charlotte May race weekends in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX).

Seven drivers have won both the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).

It’s surprising Busch never won a Cup race at Charlotte until last Saturday. In his career, he boasts track records with eight NASCAR XFINITY Series wins and seven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victories.

He’s performed well in the Queen City in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but just hadn’t won. In points-paying Cup races at Charlotte, Busch owns 10 top fives and 15 top 10s in 26 starts. The No. 18 Toyota driver ranks second in Charlotte driver rating (104.8) and average running position (9.9).

Fourth Stage Implemented For Coca-Cola 600

Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will feature a fourth stage. Each stage will last 100 laps. Stage 1 will end on Lap 100, Stage 2 on Lap 200, Stage 3 on Lap 300 and Stage 4 on Lap 400.

“The stage racing format is delivering more dramatic moments over an entire race, fueling tremendous racing action this season,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “With a fourth stage added to the Coca-Cola 600, the historic event will have another layer of strategy for teams, and even more excitement within the race for fans.”

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and Chief Operating Officer Marcus Smith offered similar commentary.

"For 58 years, the Coca-Cola 600 has been a crown jewel on the NASCAR circuit because it presents unique challenges that don't exist in any other race. The distance is greater. The test of endurance is greater. The challenge of adjusting to the track surface from hot to cool puts more pressure on crew chiefs and pit crews," he said. "It's only fitting that teams have an opportunity to be rewarded for the extra effort required to win at the 600. An additional stage win and that extra playoff point in May could be critical for playoff success in the fall."

Truex Ready To Follow Up Last Year’s Record-Setting Performance

Martin Truex Jr. rewrote the record books with his dominant performance on his way to the checkered flag in last year’s Coca-Cola 600.

The No. 78 Furniture Row Racing driver’s 588 miles led in a single race were the most in NASCAR history, besting Jim Paschal’s 502.5 miles led in the 1967 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Truex’s 392 laps led were the most in Charlotte Motor Speedway history. Paschal owned the previous-high mark of 335 laps led (also in the 1967 World 600).

He also recorded the 17th perfect driver rating (150.0) - and first at Charlotte - since the inception of NASCAR loop data in 2005.
Truex tops the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in numerous statistical categories, including: wins (tied for first with 2), stage wins (5), playoff points (15), driver rating (110.8), laps in the top 15 (3,161, 90.3%) and laps led (536). He is second in total points (44 behind leader Kyle Larson), average running position (7.8) and fastest laps run (314).

In 23 Charlotte starts, Truex has one win, three top fives, seven top 10s and a 16.2 average finish.

Queen City King: Johnson Looks To Add To Wins Record

Jimmie Johnson will attempt to extend his track record with a ninth win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

The No. 48 Chevrolet driver took the checkered flag in the latest points-paying race at Charlotte last October on his way to his record-tying seventh Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Johnson has won the Coca-Cola 600 four times (2014, 2003-05).

In 31 starts at the 1.5-mile track, Johnson also claims 15 top fives 19 top 10s and a 12.6 average finish. The Californian leads the series in Charlotte driver rating (110.6) and average running position (8.1).

A win on Sunday would tie Johnson with NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list with 83 victories.
Right now, Johnson sits eighth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings (152 markers behind leader Kyle Larson). He is tied with Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. for the wins lead with two.

Larson Looks To Extend Points Lead

Kyle Larson will look to continue to pad his lead in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He currently holds a 44-point advantage over second-place Martin Truex Jr. Brad Keselowski (67 points behind Larson) sits third, followed by Chase Elliott (-114) and Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray (-121).

Larson has built his lead on the strength of one win, five top fives, seven top 10s and a series-leading 6.9 average finish. He has four runner-ups this season, including a string of three straight the second through fourth races.

In seven career starts at Charlotte, Larson owns one top-five finish and two top-10 showings. His career-best finish at the 1.5-mile track was a fifth-place showing in last year’s fall race.

Blaney Gets Another Crack At An Intermediate Track

Ryan Blaney gets another chance to wheel his No. 21 Ford to victory at a 1.5-mile track in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 23-year-old Wood Brothers Racing driver has performed well in his last two races at 1.5-mile tracks. He finished fourth at Kansas after winning Stage 2 and leading 83 laps. At Texas, he led a race-high 148 laps and won the contest’s first two stages.

Blaney is 11th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points standings, 184 markers behind Kyle Larson. He has three playoff points via his three stage wins.

NASCAR joins IndyCar in support of John Andretti

NASCAR will join IndyCar in honoring former driver John Andretti this weekend, with its race cars carrying a decal emblazoned with the hashtag #checkit4andretti. In 1994, Andretti was the first driver to run the Indianapolis 500-Coca-Cola 600 double.

Earlier this year, Andretti announced that he is battling stage four colon cancer.

Andretti won two races during a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career that spanned 393 starts. His victories came at two of NASCAR most iconic tracks, Daytona International Speedway (July of 1997) and Martinsville Speedway (April of 1999).

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola: Honoring and Remembering the U.S. Armed Forces - During the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR will have its “600 Miles of Remembrance.” The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars will feature the names of fallen servicemen and women on windshield headers for the third consecutive year. This Memorial Day weekend, NASCAR also will host over 5,000 active military members as NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola program kicks off its traditional summer industry-wide effort to honor and host members of the military over six race weekends.

Channing Tatum To Serve As Coca-Cola 600 Grand Marshal - Actor Channing Tatum will serve as the grand marshal for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. In Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming movie “Logan Lucky,” out Aug. 18, Tatum plays the lead character attempting to execute an elaborate robbery during the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NASCAR XFINITY Series

Back At It: NASCAR XFINITY Series Returns To Action At Charlotte

After a few weeks off, the NASCAR XFINITY Series returns to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Hisense 4K TV 300 at 1 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this Saturday, May 27.

Charlotte Motor Speedway has been hosting NASCAR XFINITY Series events since 1982, and this weekend’s race will the 71st series event at CMS. Joe Nemechek and Kenny Wallace lead the series in starts at Charlotte with 35 each. Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with 27 starts.

Charlotte has anointed 45 different NASCAR XFINITY Series Coors Light pole winners in the 70 series events held at 1.5-mile speedway. Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth lead the series in Coors Light poles at CMS with four each.
A total of 33 different series drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, led by Kyle Busch with eight victories - 2004 summer, 2005 summer, 2008 sweep, 2009 fall, 2010 summer, 2013 sweep.

Six drivers have won consecutive series races at CMS, led by Rob Moroso (1988 Fall, 1989 sweep) and Mark Martin (1995 Fall, 1996 sweep) with three consecutive wins each. The most recent driver to accomplish the consecutive win feat was Austin Dillon with his 2015 season sweep. Dillon currently leads the series among active drivers in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 3.125.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Patriotism In Full Effect This Summer

Below are few of the many things the NASCAR XFINITY Series will be doing this summer to show support for the military:

  • During Saturday’s (May 27) Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers will display red, white and blue XFINITY windshield decals on their race cars.

  • Lilly Diabetes, the “Official Diabetes Health Partner of NASCAR,” unveiled a patriotic paint scheme that Ryan Reed, driver of the No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang, will race in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway Memorial Day Weekend.

  • During the DAYTONA Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway (on June 30), Comcast will work with NASCAR and teams to replace its XFINITY branding with active military installations on all NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers’ windshield headers to commemorate Independence Day Weekend.

North Carolina Drivers Feeling At Home at Charlotte Motor Speedway

North Carolina has become one of the largest sources of driver talent of any of the 50 states in the history of the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

A total of 113 drivers with their home state recorded as North Carolina have competed in at least one NASCAR XFINITY Series race in their careers. Morgan Shepherd, from Ferguson, leads all North Carolina drivers in NXS starts with 405; followed by Tommy Houston (379 starts) with the second-most and Dale Jarrett (289) with the third-most - both are from Hickory, North Carolina.

A total of 12 drivers from North Carolina have made at least one start in the series this season - William Byron (Charlotte), Daniel Hemric (Kannapolis), Austin and Ty Dillon (Welcome), Harrison Rhodes (High Point), Morgan Shepherd (Ferguson), Stephen Leicht (Asheville), Carl Long (Roxboro), Clint King (Thomasville), Corey LaJoie (Concord), Drew Herring (Benson) and Ryan Blaney (High Point).

A total of 23 of the 113 drivers from North Carolina have won in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, led by Jack Ingram (Asheville) with 27 wins. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis) and Tommy Houston (Hickory) are tied for the second-most NXS wins by a North Carolina native with 24 each.

JR Motorsport’s Keeps Hold On The Standings Top Spots

JR Motorsport’s drivers hold the top three positions in in the driver standings heading into Charlotte this weekend - veteran Elliott Sadler is the series leader, followed by Justin Allgaier (-29) in second and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate William Byron (-49) in third. Currently the JRM drivers are 17-points ahead of their nearest competitor - Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. in fourth. This is the first season in series history an organization has held the top three spots in the driver standings.

Series standings leader Elliott Sadler, in nine starts this season, has posted four top fives and a series leading eight top 10s. Plus, his average finish is an 8.0.

Sadler will be one to watch this weekend, as he has made 20 series starts at Charlotte posting one pole, five top fives, nine top 10s and an average finish of 16.2; including a runner-up finish at CMS last fall.

Sadler’s teammate, and closest competition at the moment, Justin Allgaier, has posted one win (Phoenix), three top fives, five top 10s and an average finish of 12.3 this season. Plus, he leads the series in laps led (266 laps, 15.6%).

Charlotte is one of Allgaier’s better tracks, as he has made 13 starts at the 1.5-mile speedway, posting three top fives and eight top 10s. His average finish at CMS is just outside the top 10 (11.769).

Sunoco rookie William Byron is currently third in the series driver standings through the first nine races of the season after posting two top fives and five top 10s. His average finish is 13.8 in 2017.

Byron will be making his series track debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but don’t be misled by his lack of statistics at the track. The 19-year-old, Byron, has finished in the top-10 in two of the first three series races on 1.5-mile speedways this season - finishing seventh at both Atlanta and Texas.

Christopher Bell To Make Series Debut For Joe Gibbs Racing

One of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ rising stars, Christopher Bell, will be making his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 18 Toyota Camry with crew chief Eric Phillips.

Joe Gibbs Racing has won two of the first three 1.5-mile speedways (Kyle Busch at Atlanta and Erik Jones at Texas) in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Bell’s teammate this weekend, Denny Hamlin, the defending winner of this event, will be in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry. Hamlin has made 11 series starts at Charlotte, posting one win (2016), six top fives and an average finish of 12.5.

GMS Racing Expands To Second Car For Driver Ben Kennedy

GMS Racing joined the NASCAR XFINITY Series full-time at the beginning of the season, fielding the No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro for driver Spencer Gallagher. This weekend the team is expanding to a second vehicle, the No. 96 GMS Racing Chevrolet Camaro, for driver Ben Kennedy, grandson of Bill France Jr.

Kennedy signed a 12-race deal with GMS this season and his debut with the team is this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kennedy has also signed a nine-race deal with Richard Childress Racing this season and made his first start for the team at Talladega a few weeks back finishing in the top-five.

This will be Kennedy’s series track debut this weekend at Charlotte, but he does have some experience competing at the 1.5-mile speedway. Kennedy has made three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at Charlotte, posting one top-10 finish.

Darrell Wallace Jr.’s Wave Of Momentum Might Pick Up At CMS

Darrell Wallace Jr. has been on a mission in 2017. Following the season-opener at Daytona, he was 27th in points, but over the last eight races has moved up 23 spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series driver standings to fourth, just 17 markers back from third-place William Byron. Now with the standings lead in his sights, Wallace eyes Charlotte Motor Speedway as a great place to keep his early-season momentum going.

With the second-most NASCAR XFINITY Series top-10 finishes (six) through the first nine races of the season, Roush Fenway Racing’s Darrell Wallace Jr. has posted an average finish of 12.8. His six top 10s this season were all sixth-place finishes; five of which he posted consecutively - including the first three 1.5-mile speedways of the season.

Wallace’s ascension in the points has all the signs of continuing when the series gets to Charlotte as he has made four starts at CMS, posting one top five, two top 10s and an average finish of 15.0.

JGR Driver Matt Tifft And BMX Athlete Josh Perry Team Up To Highlight Brain Tumor Awareness Month

The month of May is Brain Tumor Awareness month and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Tifft and BMX athlete Josh Perry are teaming up to bring the focus of all people to the cause.

Tifft will host professional BMX athlete Josh Perry, who is a brain tumor survivor of five years, as a featured guest this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Check out Josh Perry and his brain tumor story online at http://joshperrybmx.com/, via his YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/JoshPerry88, or through social media @JoshPerryBMX.

Media and fans can join in. Don’t just be "aware,” get involved and act. Join Matt Tifft and the Brain Tumor Team as they work to defeat brain cancer. Check out braintumor.org/btam2017 to learn how you can help.

Tifft’s engagement in the cause doesn’t end there, Tifft joined the National Brain Tumor Society's annual Head to the Hill event in Washington DC, on May 8 and 9, to advocate for brain tumor public policy that gives brain tumor patients a voice in Congress. Tifft asked Congress to support the STAR Act, which supports childhood cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research.

Tifft, who was sidelined last season to have surgery to remove a tumor from his brain, is currently seventh in the series standings as he heads to Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. In nine starts this season, he has posted two top 10s and average finish of 14.6. Tifft has made one series start at CMS in his career (last season), starting 16th and driving up to an eighth-place finish.

NASCAR XFINITY Series, Etc.

Monster Sized Names On The Entry List - This Saturday in the Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at 1 p.m. ET), you can expect to see six Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers competing for the win - Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin. Brad Keselowski (three), Austin Dillon (two) and Denny Hamlin (one) are all former NXS Charlotte winners.

Stat Nugget About 2017 Season - Record Average Margin of Victory Per Race - The 2017 season (nine races) currently holds the series record for the closest MOV per race through the first nine races at 0.411 - the previous record was 0.569 in 2011 and 1998. Eight of the first nine races of the season have finished with an MOV under a second. Three of the last five series races at Charlotte have ended with a MOV of less than a second. Electronic scoring was introduced to the NXS in 1996.

XFINITY Series Milestones - Austin Dillon will attempt to make his 125th NASCAR XFINITY Series start this weekend at Charlotte. Dillon will become the 103rd driver to make 125 starts or more in the series. ... Ty Dillon will attempt to post his 75th NASCAR XFINITY Series top-10 finish this weekend at Charlotte. Dillon will become the 49th driver in series history to post 75 top 10s or more.

XFINITY Series in North Carolina - The NASCAR XFINITY Series has held 189 races among seven different tracks in the state of North Carolina - Charlotte Motor Speedway (70 races), Rockingham Speedway (42), Hickory Speedway (42), Orange County Speedway (27), North Wilkesboro Speedway (four), Caraway Speedway (three) and Asheville Speedway (one).

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Kyle Busch Makes History At Charlotte

Kyle Busch Motorsports owner Kyle Busch netted his seventh career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway - winning the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

The win was not only Busch’s seventh career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 11 starts, but his second series win this season and 48th of his career.

No other driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history has won more races at a single track.

Busch has 173 career NASCAR national series wins.

Truex Trucking Right Along

Ryan Truex - younger brother of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. - scored his first top-five of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway after finishing fourth in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

It was his best finish since last year’s season opener at Daytona. It was his first top five in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on an open-motor track.

Truex has improved in each NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race this season.

He finished 28th at Daytona after being involved in a crash, but, since then, has finished top-15 or better in each race.

Atlanta - 13th
Martinsville - 10th
Kansas - 6th
Charlotte - 4th

Truex is a fringe NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff driver at the moment, as he currently sits ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.

As the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Dover International Speedway next, Truex has one career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race there. He finished eighth in last season’s Jacob Companies 200 after starting 18th.

Down The Right Rhode

After suffering from an engine issue ending his race at Kansas Speedway while leading, ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes bounced back with a strong performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Rhodes finished eighth, scoring his second top-10 finish of the season and fifth top 25.

The finish at Charlotte jumped Rhodes from seventh place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings all the way to fifth.

He remains a strong NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs candidate through five races this season.

Briscoe Takes Lead In Sunoco Rookie Race

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Brad Keselowski Racing driver Chase Briscoe took the lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points battle following his 11th-place finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

Heading into NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race weekend at Charlotte, Briscoe was trailing GMS Racing Sunoco Rookie Kaz Grala by three points in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

Briscoe now currently leads Grala by three points.ThorSport Racing’s Grant Enfinger (-6), Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Noah Gragson (-7) and ThorSport Racing’s Cody Coughlin (-21) round out the top five in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Countdown: Two Weeks

Following the North Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hits the track next at Dover International Speedway for the Bar Harbor 200 on Friday, June 2 (5:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Matt Crafton is the defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner at Dover, while Christopher Bell (third) and Johnny Sauter (fourth) both finished in the top five.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

Starting Upfront - Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christopher Bell won his third Keystone Light Pole of the 2017 season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Bell is five poles away from tying the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series record for most poles in a season, which is eight, set by Mike Skinner in 2007.

Gragson Scores Second Top 10 -NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Noah Gragson scored his second top-10 finish of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has two top-10 finishes in his last three races. Gragson is 13th (-131) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings and fourth (-7) in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings

Owner Standings Update - GMS Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet has held a steady lead over Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 Toyota (-15) so far this season. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota (-35), ThorSport Racing’s No. 88 Toyota (-51) and Brad Keselowski Racing’s No. 29 Ford (-71) round out the top five in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series owner standings.

Manufacturer Standings Update -Toyota currently holds the standings lead (189 points) by five points over the second-place Chevrolet (184 points) followed by Ford (143 points). Toyota has three wins, while Chevrolet has two wins and Ford has yet to win this season.

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