Coca-Cola 600 Spectrum Pole Night Report

Darrell Waltrip receives his special trophy from Marcus Smith

(CONCORD, NC – MAY 23, 2019 – RIS) Charlotte native William Byron drove his No. 24 Liberty Patriotic Chevrolet to the pole position in the 60thCoca-Cola 600. Byron's lap of 29.440 sec/183.424 mph was a thin 0.057 second quicker than Aric Almirola's earlier run of 29.497 sec in second place. The pole is Byron's second career quickest qualifier in his 49 NASCAR Monster Energy Cup races for his second of the season and seventh top-ten start in the current season.

Kyle Busch will start the longest race in NASCAR's schedule in third place, flanked by Austin Dillon's Chevrolet.

WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 LIBERTY PATRIOTIC CAMARO ZL1 – Pole Winner - YOU ARE THE YOUNGEST POLE-SITTER IN THIS EVENT'S HISTORY 'That's awesome. This is a dream come true. Obviously I grew up in Charlotte and came to this race every year. So, it's a dream come true to qualify on the pole with Hendrick Motorsports just across the street and all the hard work and everybody at Chevrolet giving us fast race cars. This is pretty cool. I can't think of a better way to start the weekend.'      '

HOW DOES CREW CHIEF, CHAD KNAUS, GET THE BEST OUT OF YOU BECAUSE YOU GUYS HAVE CERTAINLY PICKED IT UP THIS YEAR? "Yeah, just the dialogue we have in the hauler or transporter or whatever you want to call it. We go back and forth on communication changes. It's starting to improve for us and that's where the speed is coming from. Also the cars are getting faster. So, this is really exciting. It's obviously an important weekend for Memorial Day and Captain Weber on our car. We're looking forward to supporting it."

"I think there's always an advantage to running a lot of laps. I've definitely got to do a good job of keeping myself cool and keeping myself hydrated. So, I've got a lot on my plate as far as that goes. But, I'm always happy to learn more and get out on the track and see what I can learn as far as experience goes.
"I missed it a little bit out there in qualifying. In general, we all missed it a little bit; our team. We were just too loose because the temperature dropped so much that it got me turning a little too good. I never lifted through (Turns) 1 and 2 and then in (Turn) 3, I thought I gained a little time. But most of my speed came from the line. And (Turns) 1 and 2 were a little too free."


HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR QUALIFYING RUN? "It was wide open. We were a little free through three and four, but we were just wide open."
WITH A STRING OF THREE-STRAIGHT RUNNER-UP FINISHES, WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU WIN YOUR FIRST CAREER VICTORY AT THE COCA-COLA 600? "It would be really cool. I'll take the win any week I can get it at this point. The Coca-Cola 600 is a special race. Any cup race would be good, I'm not picky."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE TRACK IN GENERAL? I KNOW THEY'VE MADE A FEW ALTERATIONS TO IT PRIOR TO THIS PAST WEEKEND. "I think this place does a good job of widening the track out. This place is fun. It's one of the few places that you can naturally run the top. It's one of my favorite racetracks and I'm happy to be here."

JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY PATRIOTIC CAMARO ZL1 – Qualified 15th- DOES THE QUALIFYING RUN MATTER IN A RACE THAT'S THIS LONG? "Not really, but we would have liked to be better of course. There are three of our Hendrick cars right there with us. The 24 had an incredible lap, so we'll try to dig in and see just how committed they were to qualifying. I think we were a bit more in a race-scenario the way it looks at my quick glance, but we just have to stick together as a group. The fact that three of our cars were there and so close in speed is a great starting spot for all of us. We had a couple of cars that ran good in the All-Star Race and a couple that didn't, mine was one that didn't. To piggy-back on what those guys had going on is the goal for us this weekend and we'll see how that translates to the race."
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO NOT ONLY BREAK THE WINNING STREAK FIRST, BUT TIE THE 600 WIN RECORD THIS WEEKEND? "It's such a special track. I have early memories before I was even racing of coming here to watch this race. Hendrick Motorsports is so nearby; family and friends are always here. There are just so many reasons that make this race special. I'm honored to have all of the trophies I do and I'd love to get up there and tie Darrell (Waltrip)."

BUBBA WALLACE, NO. 43 COCA-COLA ORANGE VANILLA CAMARO ZL1 – Qualified 29th- "It was okay. No speed. So that's a little discouraging. But it's qualifying."
WHAT DO EXPECT GOING INTO THE RACE ON SUNDAY? 'Qualifying is qualifying. We obviously want to get something out of it but I don't know why we didn't post a faster time. We slowed down, actually, from earlier today. We'll figure that out. But, Saturday is when it really matters to get our car out in practice. It's a long race. The slower we are, the more downforce there is. That's what we're kind of banking on. That would be nice."

ARIC ALMIROLA, No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang – "We got off a little bit and just kind of aborted on all the changes we made and went back to how we started practice, where we felt the most confident about what we had for qualifying.  I'm proud of all the guys on this Stars and Stripes Smithfield paint scheme on our Ford Mustang.  It looks awesome and I'd really like to bring the field to the green with it. Hopefully it holds up for the pole, but if not I'm really proud of the effort and that should be a good starting spot for us."
DID YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU COULD OUT OF IT? "I got everything I could out of it.  If somebody else gets in there maybe they might be able to do something different, but I felt like I got everything I could out of it.  Surprisingly, it was a handful to drive so I'm proud of that lap."

DANIEL SUAREZ, No. 41 Coca-Cola Ford Mustang – "It wasn't easy, but I'm really proud of my guys because I felt like the car was good enough to maybe go a little bit quicker than that and maybe we'd be P1 right now.  I don't know. It's very hard to adapt in one lap only, but the car has been fast and just trying to make the car drive a little bit more comfortable, but I'm proud of my guys.  The 41 Coca-Cola Ford Mustang is looking amazing out there and I'm looking forward to the race."

PAUL MENARD, No. 21 Menards/Knauf Ford Mustang – "The race on Sunday is gonna be a lot different than qualifying on Thursday night, so we'll wind up somewhere around the top 15.  That's decent track position to get a good pit selection and 600 miles is a long time to dial in a car.  You start in the day and end at night, so hopefully we'll get it dialed in for the night time."

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang – "We've definitely found the speed and, in my opinion, you have to have speed and you have to able to lead laps to consistently win races.  We still are fine-tuning where we need to be on the handling of our cars because we're still going to a lot of these places for the first time and knowing what you can and can't do, and I think you can't do a lot of the things you did in Kansas here today for sure, compared to what you could do there.  So we're still learning where the limits are, but our guys are doing a good job.  Today we were horrible in practice with all the things we tried and just kind of went off of what we did last week for qualifying and wound up being OK."
ARE YOU SURPRISED SHR DOES NOT HAVE A WIN YET? "Nothing surprises me in this sport.  I think we've been in this position before as a group and not having won a race.  You just never know how a year is going to go. We've run well, really, for all of the conditions and scrambling and all the things we've had to do.  We've run well, but the last couple weeks we've led laps and, to me, that's more important than anything in getting into victory lane."
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOURSELF IF YOU WERE MAKING YOUR FIRST START IN THE 600 THAT YOU NOW KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE?  "The car matters.  My cars are a lot faster today than they were the first several 600s. This place used to be my least favorite and it's definitely become one of our better race tracks."

CLINT BOWYER, No. 14 Peak Antifreeze & Coolant Ford Mustang – "We are among the fastest cars, that's for sure.  I don't know why, but it seems like the track is a lot different than it was last week even.  It's so close.  I mean, I think it's so tight.  Anytime the cars are like this, where they're close to wide-open, you know the lap times are gonna be close and they were."

We were talking about the fine balance between the grip of the race track going early and what it's going to get when it gets later and how much speed cars will pick up because of that.

Martin Truex: "I think everybody is going to be wide open. I just had the tires sliding just enough through (Turn) 3 - through the middle of (Turns) 3 and 4 that you know you're scrubbing speed. Drawing that early is going to hurt us for sure. I thought we had a good car in practice. It's been a good day. I'm happy with what the team did and how things are going. We'll just have to see where we end up and go from there."

Time Trial Results 60th Annual COCA-COLA 600 - Charlotte Motor Speedway

Pos, Driver, Car, Time, Speed, Lap #, # Laps, -Fastest, -Next

1) William Byron, No. 24 Liberty Patriotic Chevrolet, 29.440, 183.424, 1, 1, 0.000, 0.000
2) Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 29.497, 183.069, 1, 1, 0.057, 0.057
3) Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota, 29.519, 182.933, 1, 1, 0.079, 0.022
4) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Coca-Cola Zero Sugar Chevrolet, 29.546, 182.766, 1, 1, 0.106, 0.027
5) Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford, 29.550, 182.741, 1, 1, 0.110, 0.004
6) Daniel Suarez, No. 41 Coca-Cola Ford, 29.555, 182.710, 1, 1, 0.115, 0.005
7) Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 29.560, 182.679, 1, 1, 0.120, 0.005
8) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Peak Antifreeze & Coolant Ford, 29.562, 182.667, 1, 1, 0.122, 0.002
9) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 29.563, 182.661, 1, 1, 0.123, 0.001
10) Daniel Hemric #, No. 8 Cessna Chevrolet, 29.588, 182.506, 1, 1, 0.148, 0.025
11) Kurt Busch, No. 1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet, 29.603, 182.414, 1, 1, 0.163, 0.015
12) Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, 29.614, 182.346, 1, 1, 0.174, 0.011
13) Alex Bowman, No. 88 Nationwide Patriotic Chevrolet, 29.618, 182.322, 1, 1, 0.178, 0.004
14) Martin Truex Jr, No. 19 Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER /USO Toyota, 29.622, 182.297, 1, 1, 0.182, 0.004
15) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Patriotic Chevrolet, 29.649, 182.131, 1, 1, 0.209, 0.027
16) Erik Jones, No. 20 Reser's Main St Bistro Toyota, 29.657, 182.082, 1, 1, 0.217, 0.008
17) Paul Menard, No. 21 Menards/Knauf Ford, 29.698, 181.830, 1, 1, 0.258, 0.041
18) Ryan Newman, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Hot Dogs Ford, 29.736, 181.598, 1, 1, 0.296, 0.038
19) Ryan Blaney, No. 12 DEX Imaging Ford, 29.760, 181.452, 1, 1, 0.320, 0.024
20) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota, 29.773, 181.372, 1, 1, 0.333, 0.013
21) Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Miller Lite Ford, 29.781, 181.324, 1, 1, 0.341, 0.008
22) Chris Buescher, No. 37 Kroger Thrill of the Grill Chevrolet, 29.783, 181.311, 1, 1, 0.343, 0.002
23) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 29.783, 181.311, 1, 1, 0.343, 0.000
24) Ryan Preece #, No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 29.839, 180.971, 1, 1, 0.399, 0.056
25) Kyle Larson, No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 29.842, 180.953, 1, 1, 0.402, 0.003
26) Matt Tifft #, No. 36 Surface Sunscreen/Tunity Ford, 29.955, 180.270, 1, 1, 0.515, 0.113
27) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 95 Procore Safety Qualified Toyota, 29.978, 180.132, 1, 1, 0.538, 0.023
28) Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet, 29.983, 180.102, 1, 1, 0.543, 0.005
29) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla Chevrolet, 30.006, 179.964, 1, 1, 0.566, 0.023
30) Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Superior Logistics Ford, 30.108, 179.354, 1, 1, 0.668, 0.102
31) David Ragan, No. 38 Select Blinds Ford, 30.254, 178.489, 1, 1, 0.814, 0.146
32) Landon Cassill(i), No. 00 StarCom Fiber Chevrolet, 30.379, 177.754, 1, 1, 0.939, 0.125
33) Bayley Currey(i), No. 52 RWR Ford, 30.437, 177.416, 1, 1, 0.997, 0.058
34) *Parker Kligerman(i), No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota, 30.470, 177.223, 1, 1, 1.030, 0.033
35) Ross Chastain(i), No. 15 Cross Country Adjusting Chevrolet, 30.566, 176.667, 1, 1, 1.126, 0.096
36) *BJ McLeod(i), No. 53 Enlisted Nine Fight Company Chevrolet, 30.901, 174.752, 1, 1, 1.461, 0.335
37) *Reed Sorenson, No. 27 Chevrolet, 30.945, 174.503, 1, 1, 1.505, 0.044
38) Cody Ware(i), No. 51 JACOB COMPANIES P-40 WARHAWK Ford, 31.812, 169.747, 1, 1, 2.372, 0.867
39) Quin Houff, No. 77 NASCAR Mobile App Chevrolet, 31.947, 169.030, 1, 1, 2.507, 0.135
40) *Joey Gase(i), No. 66 MBM Motorsports Toyota, 32.059, 168.439, 1, 1, 2.619, 0.112
*Required to qualify on time,(i)Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Track Qualifying Record: Kyle Busch, 10/11/14, 27.357 sec, 197.39 mph

Darrell Waltrip won a record five Coca-Cola 600s in his NASCAR Hall of Fame career as a driver. Before the popular FOX: NASCAR broadcaster’s time in the booth winds to a close this year, Waltrip added more hardware to his trophy case on Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Speedway Motorsports, Inc. President and CEO Marcus Smith presented Waltrip with a special-edition Bruton Smith Trophy to commemorate his five-decade influence on NASCAR as well as his remarkable five victories in NASCAR’s toughest test of man and machine in 1978, ’79, ’85, ’88 and ‘89.

“This is the trophy you get when you win the Coca-Cola 600, but this is not the inscription you get on the trophy. This will be something I cherish forever,” said Waltrip, whose special trophy includes a nod to each of his 600-mile wins and a thank-you for his contributions to NASCAR. “You have trophies, you have championships, you have wins, but friends are what really make the difference. Marcus has been a great friend to me for a long time. Bruton Smith has been one of my heroes since I started racing in NASCAR in 1972.

“It was a pleasure racing here all those years, but it’s been even more of a pleasure to cover these races here for the last 19 years.”

In addition to his successful history in the Coca-Cola 600, Waltrip won the first NASCAR All-Star Race in 1985 at Charlotte.

“DW is such a friend to everyone in the sport and certainly to me and my dad and to millions and millions of NASCAR fans,” Smith said. “He’s won more Coca-Cola 600s than any other driver and completely deserves this honor.”

New Team Entering Xfinity Series: Shane Lee will return to the Xfinity Series with a part time drive this year and a full time effort next year, competing under the H2 Racing banner H2 is owned by venture capitalist Matt Hurley. At age 23, Hurley is the youngest team owner today and possibly the youngest team owner of all time.The team will campaign a Toyota Supra with input from TRD.

Majeski scores ARCA win: In the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150, Michael Self’s loss was Ty Majeski’s gain Thursday night. Self led a race-high 91 laps from the pole before his luck ran out – losing the lead in the final laps when he spun from the point and fell victim to differing pit strategy in the closing circuits, giving Majeski a golden opportunity to speed to the front and hold off Sheldon Creed for his first ARCA victory.

A caution with one lap to go afforded Creed and third-place finisher Gus Dean a chance to unseat Majeski’s Chad Bryant Racing Ford. Majeski, however, needed only two turns to clear his challengers and capture an emotional maiden triumph at America’s Home for Racing. Harrison Burton finished fourth behind Majeski, Creed and Dean. Self, the series points leader, ended up fifth.

TY MAJESKI, No. 22 Chad Bryant Racing Ford (Race Winner): “It’s unbelievable. Racing has the highest highs and the lowest lows, but it feels unbelievable to come back here and get a win. Michael (Self) obviously had the dominant car. Sometimes you win them that way and sometimes you lose them. Overall, I’m thankful it finally played into our favor. Last season was by far the hardest season of my career. To come back here with a W means a lot. I’m doing everything I can to stay relevant and being in Victory Lane obviously helps.”

SHELDON CREED, No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet (Runner-Up): “I was really surprised with how much speed that 25 (Self) had. They were incredibly fast. I tried everything I had and I could stay there with him for a few laps, but I couldn’t do anything. He was really stuck to the bottom there. … I just drove my butt off. I don't know where I lined up, 15th or somewhere around there, and I think I was fifth in two laps. I was just trying to go where people weren't. I think it's easier when you're in such a big pack like that because so many people are racing hard, so I got really good runs and I was able to split the middle here and there. I just got really good restarts the last few times."

GUS DEAN, No. 32 Win Tron Racing Chevrolet (Third-Place Finisher): “Majeski was really quick, especially on the high line. I could run the top really hard when I had someone on the inside sort of shooting the air up and keeping it rotated, but it got tight up there by myself. … I stayed eighth until the last 10 (laps), and then we got up there to second. I wish Sheldon would've given me a little bit more of a boost on the bottom, but that's just me sulking because he did what he had to do, for sure. … Got a good restart there, ran it wide open in turns 1 and 2 and just couldn't get momentum built up enough on the bottom to stay with those guys."


John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2019, Issue 5, Posted 12:35 AM, 05.24.2019