Quick Hits on Charlotte
Let me begin by explaining the two race gap in these recaps. Due to a death in the family I wasn't able to watch the Kansas race. Therefore, there was no basis for me to comment on it. I did watch the All-Star race. It was a good night of racing but since it's so different from regular season races, I decided not to offer my thoughts on it.
I always look forward to the Coke 600 as it's not only the longest race of the year but also the unofficial start to the summer portion of the schedule. In the past 600 miles meant drivers would fall out due to engine failures. Like so much in the sport these days though, that seems to be a thing of the past. Sunday's race did offer some intrigue though as we watched team after team have issues with tires blowing. It was interesting to see that play out over the course of the long night as it affected the fortunes of some worse than others.
Doug "Fireball" Turnbull and Dan Elliott had a recent discussion on their Five-To-Go podcast about fans' expectations of races. We're in an era when a segment of the fan base feels disappointed if they don't believe each race is the greatest race they've seen. The reality is, some races are just going to be better than others. Accept that and the lesser ones don't feel as disappointing, while the great ones don't raise the level of expectations to unreasonable heights.
I say all that to say this; in my opinion Sunday's Coke 600 was a good race. It wasn't one of the best I've witnessed but it certainly wasn't a dud. There has been a lot of post-race discussion about this being one of the best races fans have seen this year. That's great, I'm not going to detract from the joy others took from it. Although I enjoyed the race, I'm not going to go that far.
It's my opinion that a lot of what we saw Sunday was a lot of what we've already seen, excellent passing and side by side racing after restarts. Then once cars established position, gaps opened up and clean air became the factor we've seen it become. Fortunately for fans but unfortunately for those with banged up race cars, there were several restarts throughout the night, thus we had more occasions to see battles for position. On that final restart, I think everyone watching was anticipating a battle-royal between Martin Truex, Jr. and Joey Logano. Once Truex took the lead though, Logano just couldn't get back to him.
It was a great comeback by the 19 team and driver to come back from an early blown tire to capture the win. At this point in the season, they're definitely one of the favorites, week in and week out. It was nice to see Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Chris Buescher capture much needed top 10 finishes at 5th and 6th respectfully. One of the popular stories of the night was Corey LaJoie and the GoFas team earning a 12th place finish. All four Hendrick cars finished in the top 10, suggesting their recent resurgence might be for real. In what's becoming one of the questions asked each week, when will Stewart-Haas racing and specifically Kevin Harvick find Victory Lane?
There's a vocal segment of fans who don't like Pocono but that's where the series takes us this week. I think it's a unique track that offers challenges other tracks don't have. I'm looking forward to what we see this Sunday.