Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR’s most challenging test of man and machine is all set to hit the Charlotte Motor Speedway this Sunday. Catch all the live actions from the track on DSport this Monday at 3.45 am IST.
NASCAR recently added a fourth stage; top 10 get points after Lap 100 (Stage 1), Lap 200 (Stage 2), Lap 300 (Stage 3) checkered flag on Lap 400.
Here we’ve picked up top 10 contenders battling for the Coca-Cola 600 championship title:
Martin Truex Jr.- NASCAR Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr. won last year’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord. He led 392 of the 400 laps in one of the most dominating wins in NASCAR history. Truex has won five of the last 11 races on the 1.5-mile tracks. He leads the series in average finishing position, laps led and driver rating in races similar to Charlotte. Truex may not lead 98 percent of the laps again, but the No. 78 car should be in Victory Lane on Sunday night
Kyle Busch: Busch has won virtually everywhere else in a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series car, with only Charlotte and Pocono Raceway left on his career to-do list. And Busch has been a frequent visitor to Charlotte’s Victory Lane in other national tours — eight times in the XFINITY Series and seven in the Camping World Truck Series. If he wins on Sunday, Kyle Busch will become the eighth driver to win both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and 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).
Kevin Harvick: He has led at least 10 laps in each of the past five races and has four top-five finishes in that span. Though he has yet to win, at sixth in points he is comfortably in the playoff race.
Kyle Larson: He has a third-place average finishing position on intermediate tracks this season. This will be Larson’s fourth time running the Coca-Cola 600. He only has one finish in the top-10 in those races, but the No. 42 team has never been running as well as they are in 2017. Larson should add another top-five finish to his resume this week.
Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has been very successful at Charlotte in the past with eight wins at the track in points-paying events, including four wins in the sport’s longest race of the year. He needs one more win in the Coca-Cola 600 to match Darrell Waltrip with five wins in the NASCAR marathon event. His last win in this event came in 2014 when he started from the pole and led 164 laps on his way to Victory Lane.
Brad Keselowski: He has been the most consistent driver this season. He has two wins (Atlanta and Martinsville) and finished nine of the 11 races in the top 10. Keselowski has an average finishing position of 2.5 on the 1.5-mile tracks this season. The No. 2 team is the best at working on their car and getting it up front at the end of the race. Keselowski will have a good chance to win his first Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night.
Chase Elliott: Even though Chase Elliott doesn’t have prior experience in the Coca-Cola 600, the driver is physically and mentally ready for Charlotte. He has a good chance to get to Victory Lane for the first time this week. Elliott competed in his first Coca-Cola 600 last year. He started 12th and finished eighth. It will be great to see him battling for a win at one the biggest races of the season.
Trevor Bayne: He is having the best season of his career. He has been one of the best Value Picks in the game this season. Bayne finished all of the races on the 1.5-mile tracks in the top 13. Bayne is worth a spot in your line-up this week.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: Another Roush Fenway Racing driver who is having a career year. He won his first race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Talladega and followed it up with an 11th-place finish at Kansas. Stenhouse has finished two of his five starts in the Coca-Cola 600 in the top 13. This week he should get his first finish in the top 10 in the race.
Erik Jones: He had a fast car and ran most of the race in the top 15, but he also spun out three times. Kansas Speedway is more difficult to drive than Charlotte Motor Speedway because of the high winds in Kansas. Jones should have one of the fastest cars this week since it should be setup similar to his teammate’s (Martin Truex Jr.) car.