NASCAR Sprint Cup at Charlotte: Coca-Cola 600 preview

jutter@charlotteobserver.comMay 24, 2014 

  • Race facts

    Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord.

    Track type: 1.5-mile banked, paved tri-oval

    Race distance: 400 laps or 600 miles

    Weather: Mostly sunny with a high in the low 80s.

    TV: Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on Fox. Green flag is 6:18 p.m.

    Radio: Performance Racing Network

    Notebook

  • More information

    Agate lineup goes here.

Trevor Bayne moving fulltime to Cup series

Trevor Bayne is sticking with the No. 6 next season but his NASCAR career will move to another level.

Bayne, who won the 2011 Daytona 500 driving part-time for the Wood Brothers, will drive the No. 6 Ford fulltime in the Sprint Cup Series for Roush Fenway Racing. He is currently competing for RFR in the Nationwide Series this season.

“This is obviously the biggest news I’ve ever had in my life,” Bayne said. “Although we’ve had some big news before, this takes the cake.

“The person that I wanted to thank the most is Jack Roush for standing behind me over the last four years now. We’ve been through a lot of ups-and-downs but he and his organization from day one had said our goal was to get to Sprint Cup.”

Roush has not fielded the No. 6 car in Cup since Mark Martin drove for the organization.

“Trevor Bayne is a Daytona 500 champion already and a fine young man in our sport who has worked really hard,” said Martin in a video tribute played during Saturday’s announcement.

Notebook

Roush unsure if it’ll have four teams:With the announcement on Saturday that driver Trevor Bayne is moving fulltime to the Cup series in 2015, team owner Jack Roush was asked if that meant his organization was expanding from three to four teams.

“Our plans for 2015 are still in a state of flux. Certainly the fact we’ve taken the No. 6 indicates that we have our plans open for a fourth car, but it’s still in a state of flux,” Roush said. “We’ll have more to announce on that later.”

Roush drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle are in the final year of their respective contracts and have yet to announce their 2015 plans.

Practice update:Kyle Busch quickly posted the fastest lap in Saturday’s final practice session prior to the Coca-Cola 600 and then promptly wrecked in Turn 4. Busch had to move to a backup car and will start Sunday’s race from the rear of the field.

Joey Logano was second-fastest, Danica Patrick was third, Greg Biffle fourth and Jimmie Johnson fifth. Edwards was fastest in Saturday’s morning session.

Three things to watch

1. Kurt Busch becomes the latest driver to attempt “double duty,” running the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. He will start the 600 from the rear because he will miss the driver’s meeting.

2. Jeff Gordon missed Saturday’s final practice due to severe back spasms. He hopes to run Sunday’s race but Regan Smith will be on standby if needed.

3. Kevin Harvick has won two of the last three 600s and has had consistently one of the fastest cars so far this season.

Observations

• The flare-up of Jeff Gordon’s back problems will no nothing to squash the retirement talk that has surrounded him all season. Gordon himself brought on some of the conversation by saying if he won the championship this season, he’d retire in Victory Lane. It is possible Gordon’s situation this weekend could serve as a reminder to the four-time Cup series champion of the pitfalls that come with a long racing career and getting older. Until recently, his physical health has garnered nary a mention.

• The start of Sunday’s race shouldn’t lack for action on the track as brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch will both start from the rear of the field. Kyle wrecked his car in practice on Saturday and was forced to use a backup car while Kurt will have to start from the back for missing Sunday’s drivers’ meeting while he is competing at the Indy 500.

•  Interesting to see NASCAR and IndyCar team owner Chip Ganassi openly support the use of a green-white-checkered finishes in IndyCar to help prevent races from ending under the caution flag. IndyCar is often known for its traditions and that sort of change would be that series’ biggest yet.

Best bets

Three picks for your fantasy racing team:

Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson

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