Jimmie Johnson looks for the hit record on the longest night of the season – OA Sport


From Charlotte Motor Speedway everything is ready for the Coca-Cola 600, the longest event in the entire championship. The competition, born in 1960, the year in which the track was built, is a unique test of its kind and is also among the more prestigious after the Daytona 500. The event is held annually on the weekend ofl Memorial Day, celebration in which the United States of America remembers all the soldiers who fell during the wars. There will be 400 rounds scheduled within the Charlotte basin. The track measures a mile and a half, the most common distance between the US circuits that make up the NASCAR Cup Series.

Because of the length of the test, 600 miles is almost 1000km, the race is divided into three ‘flying goals’. As usual, we remind you, the tests of the three main American stock car categories are divided into stages. The appointment on May 24 represents an exception as there are usually only two race segments that award points to the top 10 finishers and a ‘playoffs point’ to the winner. Each stage will last 100 laps.

On the eve of the ‘longest night of NASCAR’, the test is held in the spotlight of the Charlotte Motor Speedway and will start when in Italy it will be midnight on Monday 25 May, there is an important unknown factor to consider. The length of the race undoubtedly increases the risk of caution. With pilots tired and tested it is in fact very likely that there will be more neutralizations than other events. Like any endurance event, the fuel and tire strategy can reserve a fundamental role for final success.

Among the 40 drivers entered in the race on Sunday, the seventh act of the championship, seven are the protagonists who have won the Charlotte 600 at least once in their career. Matt Kenseth (2003), Austin Dillon (2016), Kyle Busch (2018) and Kurt Busch (2010) they are the protagonists who once in their life have triumphed in the test. Kevin Harvick, leader of the championship after the splendid victory in the 400 Miles of Darlington, tries instead the trio in today’s competition, together with Martin Truex Jr, first last year and in 2016, the season in which he remained in command for 392 of the 400 scheduled passes.

Whoever hunts is Jimmie Johnson. The # 48 of the Hendrick Motorsport team, very fast last Sunday in South Carolina, has a chance to match the five hits of Darrell Waltrip, the most successful in NASCAR’s ‘marathon’ history. All Chevrolets have shown great consistency in returning to the track for the week just ended. Chip Ganassi Racing cars with Matt Kenseth # 42 and Kurt Busch # 1 they seem to have found the square to aim for the first seal in the season after the podium on May 17th by Kurt. The same goes for the four Endrick Motorsport standard bearers. After the success in the third round of the year at the Auto Club Speedway by Alex Bowman # 88, the historic team that defends the colors of Chevrolet is preparing to show Charlotte too. In addition to Johnson and young Byron, literally reborn after the long break due to the health emergency, there is interest in seeing what will happen between Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch.

The Camaro # 9 driver, from Bill Elliott’s son, 1988 Cup Series champion and twice first in the Daytona 500, suffered a contact on the last lap of the 500km race in Darlington before the suspension due to rain. Chase, second after a splendid move outside against Kyle Busch, was pushed to the wall by two-time Toyota Cup Series champion. Joe Gibbs Racing’s # 18, second in the 500km on Wednesday night, apologized to the young Hendrick standard bearer who, as soon as he got out of the car, showed all his disappointment at the incident.

Kyle, second by 0.086 thousandths in Darlington in the Xfinity Series test, is the only one in the top 20 in the standings to have collected three podiums, but without a win. Among the possible candidates for success in Charlotte there are also the three Ford Mustangs of the Team Penske, entrusted to Joey Logano # 22, Ryan Blaney and Brad Keselowski # 2. Recall that, Logano, together with Denny Hamlin, he is the only runner who has won twice in this 2020.

Another outsider for Monday’s 600 miles stands out Erik Jones, number 20 of the Gibbs house, has amazed positively in Darlington, a track that historically has always smiled at the native of the state of Michigan. The winner of two career tests, one of these in South Carolina on the occasion of the 2019 Southern 500, looks for the first seasonal success in the next 600 miles and could be the ‘loose cannon’ of the seventh round of the season.


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Photo: LaPresse

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