Brad Keselowski took the checkers in Kansas, but we had an “exhibition” race between then and now. The stars were out at the Monster Energy Open and the All-Star Race last week in Charlotte, a could-be preview of tonight’s Crown Jewel event. Kyle Larson won the Open, and then went onto the All-Star Race to win that, too. Besides that, we had some other fireworks that you may’ve seen: Clint Bowyer filling up the side of Ryan Newman with some punches after the race. They’ve talked things out and even had an autograph session where they were seated right next to each other, but things in NASCAR have a different way of truly resolving themselves. We’ll have to keep an eye on that.
Here’s what to look for:
–William Byron became the youngest winner of the Coca-Cola 600 Pole on Thursday, seeking his first Cup victory. A guy by the name Jeff Gordon piloted the same #24 to his first ever Win back in 1994 at this race. Something to keep an eye on.
–Aric Almirola will start on the front row, the Coke 600 a race that he hasn’t had the best success at. He carries a 17.9 average and is coming off of a 24th last Spring, his best outing a 10th in the Fall of 2015. Can he top that performance tonight? He’s been pretty stout lately, and should be up front early and often.
–Kyle Larson was that guy who won TWO races last Saturday at this track, but how will it translate to a bigger field and 600 miles? We have seen drivers perform exceedingly well at the All-Star Race and then carry it over to when it counts most, but it is by no means a guarantee. Larson will start 25th today, and has his work cut out for him.
–Kyle Busch finished 1st in this race last year, and was 2nd in the previous 600. Probably a good bet today, wouldn’t ya say? He’ll start 3rd and could muscle himself out front posthaste, sniffin’ up all of that clean air. This is one that everyone wants to win, and Rowdy wouldn’t complain about defending his Win here, I promise you.
–Martin Truex Jr. has the best average at this track over the past ten races, a 8.9 average finish and six Top 5s over the the last seven tries. Those are scary good numbers. Of those runs, he won the Fall 2017 race, and the 2016 Coca-Cola 600.
Coverage of the race starts on FOX at 6:00pm, green flag scheduled for 6:10pm.