Column By: REID SPENCER / NASCAR – CONCORD, NC – The Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race is notable for frenetic racing and heavy contact between cars, but Joey Logano doesn’t expect anything less in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“Did you watch Kansas? It’s the same thing,” Logano asked rhetorically about the most recent Monster Energy Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway, where restarts in particular were fraught with action.
Like the race at Kansas, most of Sunday’s Coke 600 will be run under the lights, thanks to the evening start time and the length of the event. NASCAR’s 2019 higher-downforce, lower-horsepower competition package is likely to keep the cars closer together on a hot, slick race track.
“That’s what this rules package has kind of promoted is that we’re so close to each other and to be able to clear someone or to really put yourself in the position you need to sometimes you’ve got to make those aggressive moves, whether it’s an aggressive block–maybe you’re pushing someone by, maybe you find yourself four-wide like they did down the frontstretch,” Logano said, describing a situation in the All-Star race where four cars crossed the start/finish line side-by-side and raced that way until they reached the first corner.
“I didn’t think that was possible, and it really kind of wasn’t, but they got through it somehow down the front straightway here at Charlotte. A lot of it is the rules package. We’ll see that continue.”
Logano was 14th fastest in Saturday morning’s first Cup practice session and 15th on a hotter track in Happy Hour.
DON’T EXPECT A TRUEX-STYLE DOMINATION IN SUNDAY’S RACE
One of Martin Truex Jr.’s fondest memories is the whipping he put on the rest of the field in the 2016 Coca-Cola 600.
Truex led 392 of 400 laps (good for a NASCAR record 588 of the 600 miles), surrendering the top spot only on pit stops. He crossed the finish line 2.572 seconds ahead of runner-up Kevin Harvick.
Will that sort of domination be a possibility in Sunday’s 60th running of NASCAR’s longest race (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)?
As far as Truex is concerned, you can forget about that prospect.
“Just to be able to do that at this level is something you dream of,” said Truex, who was 11th fastest in Saturday’s final Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. “The fact that no one will probably lead more laps than that ever, ever, ever, and that’s just crazy to think about.
“Pretty cool and I wouldn’t say we need to duplicate that, but I would like to try to win another one. It’s a special race to win. It’s one of the crown jewels.”
Seeking his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory, Daniel Suarez topped the speed charts in both Saturday practices for the Coca-Cola 600. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver posted a top speed of 182.143 mph in Saturday’s first session and a best lap at 180.705 mph on a hotter track in final practice. Suarez also had the sixth best 10-consecutive lap average speed in Happy Hour (179.134 mph). “We have a good piece, and hopefully we can take advantage of it tomorrow,” Suarez said…
Roush Fenway Racing driver Ryan Newman smacked the outside wall on the final lap of Saturday morning’s first practice and flattened the right side of his No. 6 Ford. Newman’s crew did yeoman work to repair the primary car in time for final practice. Newman ran 35 laps in the session and was 28th fastest of the 32 drivers who participated…
Denny Hamlin had the quickest Toyota in final practice, running the third fastest lap at 180.554 mph. The reigning Daytona 500 winner hopes the speed in his Joe Gibbs Racing Camry will help overcome a 20th-place starting position. “It should be pretty good,” Hamlin said after Happy Hour. “I felt pretty good with our practice there. It was one of our better practices of the year. We’re going to have to start from deep in the field, which is going to be a challenge with traffic, but we’ve got a long race to get it done. Pretty happy with where we’re at.”