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Brad Keselowski's Coca-Cola 600 weight loss
The Coca-Cola 600 is no joke and Brad Keselowski wants you to know it. Kes proved -- via Twitter and photos of his scale -- that the marathon event is, in fact, as draining on the body as you'd expect a marathon to be. About eight pounds draining, in fact. Pre race weigh in. Expecting to lose 8lbs tonight. #CocaCola600 #GoingFor2 pic.twitter.com/4T0SIdIZX9 — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) May 29, 2016 Pretty close. 8lbs lost. Decent day for us. 78 was fast. #CocaCola600 pic.twitter.com/aE1en36XtZ — Brad Keselowski (@keselowski) May 30, 2016
Johnson on Truex Jr.: 'He wasn't going to be denied'
RELATED: Results " Updated standings " Post-Charlotte Chase Grid CONCORD, N.C. -- On a night where Martin Truex Jr . dominated the Coca-Cola 600 and shattered several NASCAR records in one of the Sprint Cup Series' most storied races, the rest of the field was left to tip its cap to a driver that has come oh-so-close to winning already in 2016. MORE: Truex rewrites history Truex led 392 of 400 laps (the most ever at Charlotte Motor Speedway ) and his 588 miles led (of 600) was the most led in NASCAR history. The performance was so stellar that Jimmie Johnson , who finished third, stopped mid-interview on pit road to congratulate and give Truex a high-five. "He was too damn fast not to," Johnson joked afterward. Race runner-up Kevin Harvick spent the latter part of the race trying to get to Truex but couldn't reel him in. "I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him." Johnson led the second-most laps in the field at five and, at times, seemed to be close to making a move to get the lead. But the six-time Sprint Cup Series champion couldn't quite get there. "I thought I had him clear twice and somehow he just drove by on the straightaway," Johnson said. "His car was just really strong and there were many times where I thought I'd get close and then he'd pick the pace up a couple tenths. I think he had plenty of speed on the side and could really control the race." Johnson knows a little something about being dominant. In 2004, he led 334 laps en route to winning the Coca-Cola 600 . He has also led 300 laps two other times, both coming at Martinsville in 2008 and 2013. The fact that Truex and his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota have been so close to Victory Lane this season -- he led 141 laps at Texas and 172 laps at Kansas before late-race trouble found the 78 team in both instances -- was not lost on Johnson. RELATED: Truex: When he's led 100 laps or more "They've had a few runs where they've just been the class of the field and things have just kept them from Victory Lane," Johnson said. "Tonight, he wasn't going to be denied. There was no way around that." Joey Logano started the race alongside Truex on the front row and spent some time chasing Truex from the front, as well. The Sprint All-Star Race winner summed up his pursuit succinctly. "We didn't have anything for the 78," Logano said. "Martin Truex was on fire tonight and really all weekend. They had it figured out." Like Johnson, Logano said he could stay close for a little bit, but was no match for the 78 on the long runs. "There were times that we were racing him up front for the lead on restarts," Logano said. "We'd run with him for a while and then eventually on the long run he just took off. We had nothing for him, but at times I thought we were definitely a second-place car -- but unfortunately it's a distant second." The win was a popular one in the garage with Johnson saying how well-liked Truex is by his fellow competitors. That sentiment was echoed by fifth-place finisher Brad Keselowski . "You see a guy like Martin win and you can't help but feel good about it," Keselowski said. "He's a good person and he deserves all the success he gets." MORE: Relive the day in photos
Martin Truex Jr. wins Coca-Cola 600 in dominating fashion
RELATED: Full race results " SHOP: Truex Jr. Gear CONCORD, N.C. -- The heartbreak kid survived 600 miles without another broken heart. Instead, Martin Truex Jr . broke records in Sunday night's victory in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , a race in which the driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Toyota set new standards for domination. Truex led 392 of 400 laps, most ever in NASCAR's longest Sprint Cup Series race. He spent 588 of 600 miles at the front of the field, most ever in a single race in NASCAR history. RELATED: When Truex Jr. has led 100 laps or more And when it was over, Truex had his first victory of the season, the fourth of his career and an all-but-guaranteed berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Perhaps more important, Truex erased a litany of crushing disappointments that continued into this season and ruined potential winning efforts at Texas, Kansas and Dover. "It's just kind of sinking in now that we won the 600," Truex said in Victory Lane. "Really proud of my team -- everybody that made this possible, that believed in me, gave me this opportunity. (Crew chief) Cole Pearn, Jazzy (team engineer Jeff Curtis), my guys are something special. "I want to thank all of them. This is a big day. Got the troops on the cars (for Memorial Day recognition). This is a special weekend. It's really neat to bring that name (of fallen hero Gunnery Sergeant Jeffrey E. Bohr Jr.) home to Victory Lane. Just a lot of emotion right now. Not really sure it's sunk in yet. Just an amazing day, an amazing weekend for all of us. It's a weekend you dream about." Truex finished 2.572 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick , whose car tightened up during the final 56-lap green-flag run. Jimmie Johnson ran third and led the second-most laps -- five. Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski completed the top five, but the night belonged to Truex. When darkness fell, Harvick's No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet came to life, but the tight handling condition that developed over the final 80 miles prevented him from taking the fight to Truex. "Well, I saw him for about 50 miles or 75 miles," Harvick said. "The rest of the night I never saw him. I was back there swatting flies in the middle of the pack. I didn't have a lot of time to see the 78." Johnson was pleased with the speed in his own No. 48 Chevrolet, but it was no match for Truex's Camry. "I kind of felt like he was playing with us," Johnson said. "He was so fast. I would flatfoot (Turns) 1 and 2, and have a nose on him, and he would drive right back by me into Turn 3. It was so fast. It was very impressive. I'm happy for Martin. That team and those guys worked awfully hard to get where they’re at." But for the vagaries of green-flag pit stop cycles, Truex was out front for the entire race. He led 336 of the first 344 laps, surpassing the race and speedway record of 335 set by 1967 Coke 600 winner Jim Paschal. MORE: Most dominant races in NASCAR history The average speed of the race, 160.644 mph, was a record for a Coca-Cola 600 that went the full distance, as was the duration of the race, 3 hours, 44 minutes, 8 seconds. Truex achieved a perfect driver rating of 150.0, the first of his career. "I had confidence," Truex added. "I had faith. I had confidence in my team. I've got a lot of great people behind me. Sherry (Pollex, Truex's girlfriend and an ovarian cancer survivor), she gives me a lot of inspiration. "And we keep on fighting. We never give up. We never quit. We always keep digging, and I'm proud of my guys for sticking by me. They all did a great job tonight. There are so many fans that have supported us the last few years with so many heartbreaks. I really appreciate that. I really had fun tonight."
Staff picks for Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte
Kasey Kahne : The Coca-Cola 600 is such a different animal that rewards mental acuity, pure tenacity and physical fitness. Kasey Kahne has those qualities and won NASCAR's endurance event three times, and with two top-five finishes already this season, this is where he breaks out of his 59-race winless rut. -- Kathy Sheldon Joey Logano : It'll be a clean Charlotte sweep for Sliced Bread, who got his mojo back during the Sprint All-Star Race. Last week's $1 million win probably felt spectacular -- the feeling may be equal Sunday night when Logano celebrates his biggest NASCAR victory to date. -- Brad Norman Carl Edwards : He's the defending race winner and has posted five straight top 10s at Charlotte. Kevin Harvick is the only other driver who can say that, but the No. 19 pit crew gives him the edge -- by a footlong Subway sandwich at the finish. -- George Winkler Kevin Harvick : This one's an easy pick for me. There's a reason why Harvick sits atop the standings and that's exactly where he'll stay after cruising to another Coca-Cola 600 win. -- Maggie MacKenzie Joey Logano : The most recent Charlotte winner, Logano's No. 22 Ford seems ready for 600 miles of action, as he topped two of the three rounds of qualifying, scoring a second-place starting position. With a fast car and plenty of momentum after his All-Star win, look for the Team Penske driver to punch his ticket to the Chase Sunday with his first '16 victory. -- Jessica Ruffin Martin Truex Jr . : Forget about what has gone wrong late in races for the No. 78 team, Truex has consistently been one of the best on the intermediate tracks this season. The Furniture Row Racing driver will cash in on his pole run and strong pit spot for his first win of 2016. -- RJ Kraft Joey Logano : Becomes first driver to sweep All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 since Kurt Busch in 2010. Logano drives the No. 22 Ford for team owner Roger Penske, Busch's team owner in '10. -- Kenny Bruce
Logano wheeling it with the pope
Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski have been testing a new steering wheel with the stitching and embroidering done by the same people who tailor and embroider for the pope.
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
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."