Truex Jr. earns Coors Light Pole for Coca-Cola 600
RELATED: Lineup " See each car in Sunday's race CONCORD, N.C. – Martin Truex Jr . crashed a Ford party on Thursday night, winning the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio). With his team making adjustments to the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota throughout the qualifying session, Truex saved his best lap for the round that counted, covering the 1.5-mile distance in 28.077 seconds (192.328 mph) to edge Team Penske Ford driver Joey Logano (192.007 mph) by .047 seconds for the top starting spot in NASCAR's longest race. The Coors Light Pole Award was Truex's second of the season and the ninth of his career. Both of the New Jersey driver's poles this year have come on 1.5-mile tracks, the previous one at Kansas Speedway earlier this month. "We really had to work pretty hard for it today," said Truex, whose lap in the final round of qualifying was .27 seconds faster than his fastest practice lap. "It was just one of those Charlotte deals where the track was continuously changing. "We were just chasing the race track and changing the car and really never got it close to right until that last run. I'm really just proud of the effort and proud of all my guys for that. It feels good – 600 miles, that first pit stall (the pole winner's prerogative) … We're going to be on pit road a lot on Sunday night, and that's certainly going to be an advantage. "Hopefully, we can take advantage of it and make it work for us." Logano led both the first and second rounds but couldn’t match Truex’s top speed in the third and final session. "I got a little bit tight landing in (Turn) 1 and then a little bit free off (the corner)," Logano said. "It wasn't much. And then (Turns) 3 and 4, I actually thought was a pretty good corner. "So I would say most of it was down in 1 and 2 – probably at landing and through the center is where I lost most of my momentum. It's not much. Half-a-tenth of a second doesn't take long." Logano was the best of the Ford drivers, who held three of the four top spots in the first round of knockout qualifying and swept the top four in the second. In the final round, Fords were second, third and fifth. Ricky Stenhouse Jr . qualified third at 191.428 mph, followed by Denny Hamlin (191.388 mph) and Brad Keselowski (190.968 mph). Joining Stenhouse in the top 10 were his Roush Fenway Racing teammates Greg Biffle (sixth) and Trevor Bayne (10th), marking the first time since the April race at Texas in 2014 that three RFR cars have made the final round of knockout qualifying. Dale Earnhardt Jr . will start 25th after failing to advance past the first round by .014 seconds. Matt Kenseth (27th), Austin Dillon (28th) and Kasey Kahne (29th) also will have to come from deep in the field after disappointing efforts in time trials. Kurt Busch , who topped the speed chart in opening practice with the fastest lap of the day (192.843 mph), will start 13th after failing to make the final round by .08 seconds.
Keselowski's Darlington paint scheme revealed
RELATED: Buy Darlington tickets " '16 throwback schemes " SHOP: Keselowski gear Team Penske driver and 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski unveiled his Darlington Raceway throwback paint scheme Wednesday evening on FS1's "Race Hub." The No. 2 Ford will sport a 1972 design by Miller Lite with a lighter shade of blue and a line of gold between the primary colors of blue and white. "We're showing the old-school Miller Lite colors for this race," Keselowski said after pulling the cover off the car. " ... It's very old school, and it's going to be another fun weekend." RELATED: Darlington announces 2016 throwback theme
H2H: Would 600 win mean more to Junior or Busch?
RELATED: Full 600 coverage A winner's trophy for the marathon, reputation-making Coca-Cola 600 is certainly one of the most prized possessions in all of NASCAR. The longest race (600 miles) on the NASCAR circuit is about so much more than just distance, too. There's the history of having such a contest at the 1.5-mile track just north of the Charlotte, North Carolina, NASCAR hub, not to mention this is the only race with three unique sets of elements: A race that starts under the sun, traverses to dusk and ends at night under the lights makes for three time frames with three unique sets of circumstances. Yes, it is truly a battle of man vs. machine. That's what makes it so difficult to win the Coca-Cola 600 , which both Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr . have never done. In fact, neither has won a points-paying event at Charlotte Motor Speedway . So which driver would benefit most from a win Sunday? Brad Norman and George Winkler set out to answer the question. PHOTOS: All of Busch's victories " See Junior's patriotic scheme NORMAN: So sorry, Junior Nation, but Sunday's race is more important to Kyle Busch . "Rowdy" has been on an incredible hot streak since returning from a broken leg last season -- eight wins in 37 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Four of those victories were his first at the tracks in Indianapolis, Homestead, Martinsville and Kansas, respectively. There are only two tracks remaining on the circuit where Busch has not won a Cup race -- Charlotte and Pocono. The career-sweep is a mind-boggling feat, making Sunday's event a massive deal for the Joe Gibbs Racing driver. WINKLER: Sure, it would be impressive for Kyle Busch to add to his resume with a victory at Charlotte, but it would be an all-out celebration for Junior to win the Coca-Cola 600 . From downtown Kannapolis, North Carolina, (where Junior grew up) to Charlotte Motor Speedway is just a 25-minute drive, so one can only imagine the type of attention a victory like this would get. Plus, Junior has said repeatedly that winning the Coca-Cola 600 is a top priority of his and one of the gaps he'd most like to fill on his resume. NORMAN: Yeah, it's a big 'un for Junior on a personal level. History is at stake for Busch, though. Not just personal history, either -- team history. Check out some of the most historic races on the NASCAR circuit and their results over the past year -- 2015 Coca-Cola 600 ( Carl Edwards wins); 2015 Brickyard 400 ( Kyle Busch wins); 2015 Southern 500 ( Carl Edwards wins); Homestead finale ( Kyle Busch wins, and wins 2015 championship); 2016 Daytona 500 ( Denny Hamlin wins). JGR has a ridiculous streak at stake in these types of races, too. There's simply way more on the line for both "Rowdy" and the organization at large. WINKLER: See, I think the reverse is true. Because JGR has been so dominant this season, I think it's more important for Hendrick Motorsports , and particularly Junior, to re-establish their mojo. Earnhardt Jr. has wrecked in two of his last three points-paying races, has had some races where he qualified poorly but came through the field and others where he overcame in-race issues and the odds to post top fives. Considering how Junior has battled this season, I think he's tested and ready to fight for the whole 600 miles and be in a good position to win.
Junebug gets feisty with Junior, more tweets
Editor's note: Every Friday, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" will present eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. 1. Chillin to some @Alanis with Junebug. It was all good till last beer. pic.twitter.com/WWCC0Rr6Jy — Dale Earnhardt Jr . (@DaleJr) May 24, 2016 2. How about that #CoorsLightPole , @MartinTruex_Jr ?! #CocaCola600 #FurnitureRow pic.twitter.com/eY7LTyiQwF — Furniture Row Racing (@FR78Racing) May 27, 2016 3. Even Jack go into the fun at #RFRFanDay pic.twitter.com/QRyT23LAe0 — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) May 26, 2016 4. How do you celebrate getting into the @NASCARHall ? Take a cruise in your sweet convertible. Congrats, Mr. H pic.twitter.com/ST1czuSrFZ — Alan Cavanna (@CopaCavanna) May 26, 2016 5. Had the privilege to take Mr. Edsel Ford on a drive this morning in my 1924 Model T to kick off #CocaCola600 weekend pic.twitter.com/Htc5jrDvDm — Joey Logano (@joeylogano) May 27, 2016 6. Good time at @TeamJJF this morning for the 5k great to see so many people and everyone taking the wellness challenge pic.twitter.com/udSpSZ3spr — Ben Kennedy (@BenKennedy33) May 22, 2016 7. Taking some lessons today thanks to @mcboatcompany @cltskiboats & @ArodCltski This going to be a sweet summer! pic.twitter.com/aRBpVSSX3a — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) May 24, 2016 8. . @RedNoseDayUS is tomorrow? Hope you have your #RedNose ! Tanner has his! pic.twitter.com/5qLmobv3yJ — KaseyKahneFoundation (@KaseyKahneFndn) May 25, 2016
Watch: Live post-race inspection on Tuesday
RELATED: Watch live stream here " Inside look on official NASCAR inspection From 8-11 a.m. ET on Tuesday, NASCAR.com will live stream the post-race inspection process. The three-hour look takes you behind the scenes as NASCAR officials inspect NASCAR Sprint Cup Series vehicles following Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The cars being inspected this week are: the No. 22 Ford of Joey Logano (winner of Saturday's race) and the No. 2 Ford of Brad Keselowski (runner-up in Saturday's race). For more information on what the inspection process entails, click here .
GarageCam honors our Heroes
Matthew Dillner and special guest, Jesse Iwuji, host NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GarageCam in recognition of fallen heroes and the NASCAR Salutes campaign.
Preview Show: Charlotte
NASCAR.com analyst Chris Rice and Marty Snider preview the action for this upcoming weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway as the drivers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series gear up for 600 miles of racing in the Coca-Cola 600.
Science of a crew chief: Randolph takes unusual path to racing
Doug Randolph graduated from the University of Tennessee with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. So it was only natural that the Morristown, Tennessee, native eventually found employment in racing. "I use it every day," Randolph said, grinning. If you think he's kidding, think again. "The definition of wildlife biology is it's a science and it's an art, manipulating habitat for animals. To me, racing is the same way," said Randolph, crew chief for driver Tyler Reddick and the No. 29 Cooper Standard Ford for Brad Keselowski Racing in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. "If you go into it 100 percent engineering driven, and you forget the art of it, the pumping your driver up, assessing where his head is, you might not be able to pull off the success you want. For sure, that definition plays a huge role in racing I think." Reddick is eighth in points following two straight top 10s -- a seventh-place finish at Dover and a fourth-place showing at Charlotte. Teammate Daniel Hemric is third in the standings. Randolph didn't set out to become a crew chief, but he did hope to be involved in racing in some capacity. And not just videotaping local races from the top of a press box in an effort to lure fans to the local pizza join for viewing and a meal later. Yeah, he really did that. "One of my best friends worked for Mr. Gatti's Pizza and we went around to softball games, local races and videotaped them," Randolph said. "Then we'd try to convince people at the games or races to eat at Mr. Gatti's and watch the replays. "He and I would get on top of the press box. He would video and I would sit there and drink beer, to be honest. But those were good times." Randolph has served as crew chief in all three of NASCAR's national series, winning in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with drivers Scott Riggs and Clint Bowyer , as well as the Camping World Truck Series with Ryan Blaney , Keselowski and Reddick. There were near-wins in Sprint Cup , second-place finishes at Bristol (with Jimmy Spencer) and Talladega (with Paul Menard ). But his start came with a local standout, L.D. Ottinger, a Newport, Tennessee-based driver. Randolph was on the crew in 1990 when Ottinger won an event in what is now known as the XFINITY Series at Bristol Motor Speedway . It was in that race that Michael Waltrip survived one of the most devastating crashes in NASCAR, his car exploding after striking the exposed corner of the outside wall. "Nobody will ever remember who won the race; they'll always remember the wreck," Randolph said. "L.D. wasn't the first one by the wreck, but he took everyone down pit road. And when he did, he said 'He's dead.' He said it three times. "They red-flagged the race … it was hard." Incredibly, Waltrip was not injured. The time spent working for Ottinger helped lay the foundation for what was to come. "Probably one of the best people for somebody that didn't know anything about racing to learn from," Randolph said, "because his attention to detail. I'd be putting the fender decals on and one might be just a little crooked. He'd say, 'You've got to fix that' and I'd say, 'They can't see it from the stands.' He'd say, 'Yeah but I'll be driving around the race track worried that that thing's crooked.' " Understanding professors helped Randolph complete his college education while still heading to the race tracks each weekend. Eventually, he made the decision to "do this racing gig for a year or two. "L.D.'s led into going to Junior Johnson's and, man, once you're there, how do you leave racing?," Randolph said. Johnson, an inaugural member of the NASCAR Hall of Fame and one of the sport's legendary figures, won 50 times as a driver, and nearly three times that often as an owner (132 all told). Randolph's first job as crew chief came in 2001, at Bill Davis Racing with driver Dave Blaney . Eleven years later, he helped guide Blaney's son, Ryan, to the win in a Truck Series race at Iowa. He's found a home in the series, and a home at Brad Keselowski Racing. "When you're Cup racing, that is your life," Randolph said. "You have no (other) life. I've got a wonderful wife, wonderful kids. Truck racing came for me at a point in my life when my daughter was in high school playing every sport imaginable. I missed a lot of that with my son. It was great to experience it with my daughter. … "We're very lucky here that Brad has given us an organization with a definite vision that's different. He wants to give back to the sport and he's given us the freedom to go and do it. We have a great group of guys that support each other. It's a lot of fun. If you're Cup racing and you're not one of those first five guys, you're not having any fun." But there's stress at every level of racing, and that's "what you hope for," he admitted. "You hope there is a stressful situation and you and your driver and your team can get through it better than the next guy."
Logano wins Sprint All-Star Race, $1 million prize
RELATED: Race results " SHOP: Logano gear CONCORD, N.C. – At the end of a wild and crazy Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Joey Logano got the upper hand in an intense battle with last-chance qualifier Kyle Larson and took home the million-dollar prize as the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. Trying to block the stronger car of Logano in the closing 13-lap final segment of the race, Larson buried his car into Turn 1 as Logano edged ahead. Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet got loose and sailed up the track into the outside wall with less than two laps left. "I tell you, Larson is a hard racer," Logano said. "I watched him in the Showdown earlier today, and I knew what I was up against. I knew he was going to run hard. I'm a hard racer, so I knew it was going to be a fun battle for sure. I got underneath him once, and I got to the outside of him once, we went up high, and I got underneath him and I got loose underneath him. "I knew I had position on him going into the corner and had to keep him on my quarter panel and not let him get to my door, so I drove in there hard. He was going to drive in there hard to keep on my door and I was going to drive in there hard to keep him at my quarter. "What a crazy battle for a million dollars at the end. This is the All-Star Race. It's special just to be in the race. Forget winning it--it’s just special. It's neat to be in Victory Lane." RELATED: Logano reflects on all-star win Larson’s contact with the wall on the penultimate lap was an opportunity for Logano's Team Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski , who finished second, 1.142 seconds behind the race winner. Dale Earnhardt Jr . came home third, followed by Carl Edwards , Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott . Larson brought his damaged car to pit road as Logano sped to the win. "I was able to get to the front pretty quick there and be in the best position for that last restart," Larson said. "I got clear right away and thought I could cruise, but I got looser throughout the race—we were making adjustments, but I guess we weren't making big enough ones. "I just got loose, and Joey caught me, and he did a really good job of side-drafting me. I tried to hang on his quarter, and I just got really loose as soon as I got down in the corner. We were going so fast I couldn't correct it and drilled the wall." RELATED: Larson heartbroken after late lead slips away The victory was Logano's first in the non-points event. Team Penske 's 1-2 finish marked the first time an organization has swept the top two spots in the All-Star Race. After two segments of 50 laps each, which included a six-car Lap 73 wreck that eliminated the cars of Matt Kenseth , Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart (who was competing in his final All-Star Race), Logano restarted fifth on fresh tires under unique rules devised for this year's event. Larson, who restarted third behind two cars required to stay out on old rubber—those of Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch —surged into the lead and held the top spot until Logano tracked him down and made the winning pass on the next-to-last lap. Keselowski was the primary architect of this year's All-Star Race format, and he believed the new rules accomplished their purpose, even though there were unforeseen consequences that confused some of the competitors—as when Kenseth failed to make a mandatory green-flag stop in the first segment and trapped a handful of cars a lap down. "There was a next-to-last-lap pass for the lead," Keselowski said. "There were several passes for the lead. The last four (All-Star) races, there hasn't been a pass for the lead in the last 20 or 30 laps. I think our fans deserve a better format than that, and they got that today. "I don't know how you can get much more compelling racing than what we saw today, so they need to get unconfused and enjoy the racing."
Edwards tops All-Star practice; Kes posts identical speed
RELATED: Full practice results Carl Edwards topped the charts in Saturday's extended Sprint All-Star Race practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a speed of 192.027 mph in his No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Brad Keselowski posted an identical speed as Edwards in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford but was officially scored second in the practice session because of owner points. Rounding out the top five were Denny Hamlin (No. 11 JGR Toyota, 191.904 mph), Kurt Busch (No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet, 191.795 mph) and Joey Logano (No. 22 Team Penske Ford 191.700 mph). Sprint Cup Series points leader Kevin Harvick was seventh-fastest with a speed of 191.008 mph in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Practice was halted for dampness on the 1.5-mile track with 16 minutes left in the session. It eventually got back underway with a 10-minute session that included practice for Sprint All-Star qualifying, which includes a four-tire pit stop with no speed limit on pit road. Some Sprint Cup cars will be back on the track for the Sprint Showdown (FS1) as those who are not yet in the Sprint All-Star Race field attempt to gain entry by winning one of three segments (20 laps, 20 laps, 10 laps).