Recall all the twists and turns that accompanied a thrilling finish at Watkins Glen .
Matthew Dillner and Chuck Bush stroll through the NASCAR XFINITY Series garage at Charlotte Motor Speedway as teams prep for the Hisense 300 and a chance to battle in the Dash 4 Cash.
Hendrick Motorsports teammates Johnson, Kahne rounded out top three Related: Practice 1 results Carl Edwards soared to the top of the leaderboard late in Thursday's opening practice for the Coca-Cola 600 (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway , propelling his No. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 ride at 192.273 mph to snag the premier spot. Reigning Coca-Cola 600 champion Jimmie Johnson -- one of the first to head onto the track for practice -- sat on top of the leaderboard for most the the afternoon, with a high speed of 191.673 mph. He settled into the second-place slot after Edwards' late run knocked him off the top position. Johnson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne came up third-fastest in the field with a high speed of 191.639 mph. Kahne was also one of the first drivers to wheel his No. 5 ride onto the track for practice. Rounding out the top five were 2014 Sprint Cup champion and Stewart-Haas Racing 's Kevin Harvick (191.442 mph) and Michael Waltrip Rac ing 's David Ragan (191.435 mph). Following his 11-race absense from Sprint Cup racing, Kyle Busch returned to the race track last weekend for the Sprint All-Star Race and will be making his first Cup start in a points race this season at Charlotte. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver posted the 21st-fastest speed (190.081 mph) in his No. 18 Toyota during opening practice. Making his third Sprint Cup start this weekend, part-time Hendrick Motorsports rookie Chase Elliott posted the 27th-fastest time in the field, wheeling his No. 25 car at 189.142 mph. The current XFINITY champion will compete in the series' Hisense 300 on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM) at Charlotte. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track at 7:15 p.m. ET for Coors Light Pole Qualifying with coverage on FOX Sports 1. SHOP: Carl Edwards gear FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Darrell Wallace Jr. topped the leaderboard in Thursday's opening session Final practice RELATED: Final practice results After posting the 10th-fastest speed in the opening practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway , Ty Dillon found a bit more momentum early in Thursday's final session, shooting to the top of the leaderboard at 181.068 mph in his No. 3 Richard Childress Racing ride. Opening practice leader Darrell Wallace Jr . continued to post fast lap times, using a high speed of 181.020 mph in his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to snag the second spot on the leaderboard. Dillon's Richard Childress Racing teammate Brendan Gaughan also found speed in the final practice, his 180.995 mph-lap qualifying him for the third-fastest speed in the field. The elder Dillon -- Austin Dillon -- had posted a top-five speed earlier in the day and continued his strong run in the final session with a high speed of 180.246 mph from his No. 33 Chevrolet to grab the fourth-fastest ranking. Rounding out the top five was Ryan Blaney , whose No. 22 Team Penske Ford whirled around the 1.5-mile oval at 179.033 mph. Sprint Cup Series veteran Kasey Kahne managed to find his way into the top 10 this session, recording a high speed of 177.288 mph in his No. 5 JR Motorsports ride to claim the sixth-fastest speed. Current series champion Chase Elliott managed to maintain a top-10 speed, maneuvering his No. 9 JR Motorsports ride at 177.784 mph for the final spot in the top 10. Coors Light Pole Qualifying is set for Saturday at 11:15 a.m. on FOX Sports 1. Practice 1 RELATED: Full practice 1 results Turning his first laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a XFINITY Series car this weekend Darrell Wallace Jr . experienced a stroke of beginner's luck on Thursday, soaring to the top of the leaderboard during opening practice for the Hisense 300 (Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate propelled his No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing ride at 180.536 mph around the 1.5-mile track early in the session to snag the top spot. Just behind Wallace was Sprint Cup regular Austin Dillon , who posted a high speed of 180.469 mph in his No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Dillon also will compete in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM). Richard Childress Racing 's Brian Scott (179.778 mph), current points leader and Roush Fenway Racing 's Chris Buescher (179.772 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing 's Erik Jones (179.521 mph) completed the top five. Reigning XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott showed plenty of momentum during opening practice, recording the seventh-fastest speed in the field (179.027 mph) in his No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Like Dillon, Elliott is also performing a double-header this weekend, as he looks to make his third Sprint Cup start as a part-time rookie for Hendrick Motorsports . The track was peppered with several Sprint Cup regulars during opening practice, all of whom will be competing in Saturday's Hisense 300 . The list included Kyle Larson (eighth-fastest), Denny Hamlin (ninth-fastest), 2014 Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick (13th-fastest), Kasey Kahne (14th-fastest) and Aric Almirola (18th-fastest). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Longtime track mogul was voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame Wednesday The selection of race track mogul Bruton Smith to the seventh class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Wednesday came with a groundswell of support among the 57 votes that were cast. One of Smith's most vocal boosters came from what might be considered an unlikely source. Helped by NASCAR chairman and CEO Brian France's stumping, the 88-year-old Smith was Wednesday's top vote-getter, leading the 2016 list of inductees with a 68 percent approval rating in his third year on the ballot. The selection comes four days before the 56th annual running of the Coca-Cola 600 , an endurance race that Smith created as the hallmark event for the track he helped create decades ago -- Charlotte Motor Speedway . Though Smith's contributions to the sport as a tireless promoter and innovator in the realm of track ownership are immeasurable, so is his history of being at loggerheads with NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., and his son and successor, Bill France Jr., over how best to help the sport grow. That same adversarial relationship seems to have skipped a generation, according to 2011 Hall inductee Ned Jarrett, who said he named Smith on his ballot Wednesday. "I already had him in my mind before then, but I think that might've made a difference overall," Jarrett said of Brian France's statement. "I think some people might've been surprised with his support. Bruton and Brian have always gotten along real well, and just I think him showing his support was good." H.A. "Humpy" Wheeler, a longtime Smith associate at the Charlotte track through a period of tremendous growth for the sport, said he was present for many of the former struggles between Smith's Speedway Motorsports, Inc., group and the first family of NASCAR, noting how conversations frequently went with Bill France Jr.: "We conked his head a whole bunch of times, but he was hard-headed enough that he let us have it back." Wheeler said he believed the younger France's push for Smith carried plenty of sway with the voting panel Wednesday, but beyond that, it may have also smoothed over any lingering hard feelings between the two factions. "Brian has never been a confrontationalist -- never -- like his dad was and like his grandfather was," Wheeler said. "He's live and let live, and let's move on and get this thing going like we're supposed to be, et cetera. It looks like he's got a pretty good way of doing things because a lot of things he's done have worked … "I think we found out today that one of the great things about this business is you can bury the hatchet and everything's fine. And the hatchets were flying so much 20 years ago, and you were wondering, when am I gonna get one right in the skull? I used to wonder and think I'm going to put a helmet on, but you've just got to learn to live and let live and bury that hatchet." Though the relationship between Smith and the Frances was at times antagonistic, the net result was to take the sport to new levels. Smith introduced luxury suites, condominiums and other modern features that were soon incorporated into speedways nationwide, and the expansion of the sport to new markets was a mutual goal for both the Frances and SMI. Friendly or not, the competition was healthy, and many innovations sprang from its intensity. "He was, I think, a big challenge to NASCAR and the France family along the way," Jarrett said, "and I think that's one of the best things that could happen to the sport because he made them better and make them do things better. It was good that they had that rivalry going on." Jarrett said his respect for Smith stemmed from a long-ago victory at a half-mile dirt track Smith had promoted in the Charlotte area. When Jarrett went to the pay window, he said that Smith was there to help explain that he could not pay out the purse. Since the attendance that night was more than adequate, Jarrett said he asked for reasons why, only to be told that the IRS had seized that night's gate to offset Smith's early financial struggles. Jarrett said Smith wrote him a check for his Friday night winnings -- $150, he recalled -- but was told there was no guarantee that it would clear Monday morning. It didn't, Jarrett said, but Smith vowed that he would make the situation right. Jarrett said he stuck to his word, an unusual circumstance in the sport's earliest days, when crooked promoters often skipped town with that night's proceeds. "Then the rest is history as far as all the other speedways and things," Jarrett said. "I mean, he has made major, major contributions to this sport." With contributions and recognition for seven decades in the sport come the setting-aside of any long-ago grudges. In a statement released Wednesday evening by the speedway that he bet the farm on back in 1960, Smith thanked not only the voting committee, but also NASCAR's fans -- the lifeblood of any track owner. Though he might not have known the behind- the -scenes process that potentially helped spur his induction, Smith could also give a tip of the cap to NASCAR's chairman, who opted not to let bygones cloud the panel's voting judgment. "Rivalries are what makes the sport," Wheeler said. "But sometimes, you've got to put the peanut butter back in the jar and put the lid on it." FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Official partners team up to create NASCAR-themed retail program RELATED: NASCAR Salutes page Shoppers at the Fort Bragg Commissary South were welcomed by a special guest on Tuesday, and an opportunity to win tickets to the Coca-Cola 600 . Joey Logano , driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Fusion and member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family, visited the commissary at Fort Bragg to meet-and-greet shoppers and give away eight tickets to this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway . The appearance was part of a collaboration between NASCAR, Coca-Cola, Mars Chocolate North America and 3M with DeCA (Defense Commissary Agency) to create a NASCAR-themed retail program at over 180 military commissaries across the country, as well as NASCAR: An American Salute. As part of this retail program, commissary shoppers can also enter the 2015 Champions Week Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip for two to the 2015 NASCAR Champion’s Week in Las Vegas by visiting www.ChampionsWeek2015.com or by texting "NASCARSALUTE" to 313131. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Joey Logano will also start from the front row in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 RELATED: Full starting lineup " See all 43 cars CONCORD, N.C. – After powering to his second pole of the season on Thursday night, Matt Kenseth will start NASCAR's longest race from the most advantageous position—with his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota getting serviced in the most advantageous pit stall. Kenseth ran his fastest lap of the night (194.252 mph) in the third and final round of knockout qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway and secured the top spot on the grid for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 (6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN, SiriusXM), the 12th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kenseth's first at Charlotte and the 15th of his career. Kenseth, who covered the 1.5-mile distance in 27.799 seconds, was a whopping .204 seconds faster than Joey Logano (192.836 mph), whose No. 22 Team Penske Ford will start beside Kenseth's Camry on the front row. "I think starting up front is important at this track," Kenseth said. "It typically goes through a lot of changes here, especially if the sun is out for the beginning of the race. You want to have good track position, good pit selection—all those things—so if you get a little bit off and you're chasing the setup, or the track changes, you have a little bit of a buffer being toward the front, hopefully... "All the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas had some speed tonight, and that was encouraging." SHOP: Kenseth gear Carl Edwards (192.733 mph) was third in his No. 19 JGR Toyota, followed by Greg Biffle in his No. 16 Roush Fenway Ford (192.226 mph) and NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race winner Denny Hamlin in his No. 11 JGR Toyota (192.007 mph). Surprisingly, in consecutive seasons that have seen domination of the intermediate speedways by the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Chevrolet of reigning series champion Kevin Harvick and the No. 48 Chevy of six-time champ Jimmie Johnson , Toyotas and Fords claimed the top seven qualifying positions for the 600. To Logano, however, the absence of a Chevrolet from the top five spots on the grid for the first time this season isn't hugely significant. "Those guys have been fast in the race—that's where their speed really shines," Logano said. "They qualify good--don't get me wrong—but in the race they shine a little bit more. You're talking about the 4, the 41 ( Kurt Busch ) and the 48. Those are the ones that stand out. "And I'm sure they'll be fast when it comes to race time. Qualifying's a different animal. You use a completely different setup, and qualifying can kind of mask over some issues you have in race trim a lot of times. ... I wouldn't (read) too much into it." Notes: All four Hendrick Motorsports entries failed to advance to the final round of knockout qualifying, but Kasey Kahne had a valid excuse. A cut tire prevented him from posting a quick qualifying laps. As a result, the three-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 will start 33rd on Sunday ... Jeb Burton , Mike Bliss , Travis Kvapil , Jeff Green and Brendan Gaughan failed to make the 43-car field. The 48-car turnout for qualifying was the largest since 49 entries showed up for the season-opening Daytona 500 .
Take a look back at Jeff Gordon winning the 1994 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after starting from the pole. It would be the first Cup Series victory of Gordon's career.