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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Volume X, Edition LXXXIV
What to Watch: Tuesday
by the Frontstretch Staff
I hope you enjoyed your long weekend. Certainly, with the best day of racing in the entire year on Sunday, it wouldn't have been a bad one. Whether you thrilled to the F1 show on the French Riviera in Monaco, were stunned by rookie Alexander Rossi drinking the milk in Indy, or wiped a tear of relief for Martin Truex, Jr. in Charlotte, your inner racing fan was surely sated with all the thrilling competition.
However, Monday was Memorial Day and time to reflect on all the men and women who have given their lives in service to our country. Charlotte Motor Speedway always makes a special effort to welcome the Armed Forces for the Coca-Cola 600 weekend and to honor our fallen heroes. NASCAR and the competitors also take the time to give shout outs to members of the military; their field of 40 cars was filled with an assortment of special paint schemes with patriotic themes. Here are some of my favorites from the Sprint Cup field, paired with the fallen service member (listed first) whom the team honored by placing their name on the windshield. Click on the links for a pic of the car.
Staff Sergeant Forrest B. Sibley, Air Force: Voted my favorite was Aric Almirola's No. 43 with the lightning bolt Air Force paint job. The electric storm sparking across the hood and doors flickered under the lights at the track.
LT COL Paul Keith Mikeal, Air Force: The No. 23 driven by David Ragan featured a tasteful image on the hood sponsored by Bubba Burger. The silhouettes of soldiers in the field over dark camo with "We Salute You" as a caption was nicely done.
SPC Christopher Shane Wright, Army: Casey Mears' No. 13 GEICO Chevrolet's camo paint job nearly disappeared under the primary black label. However, the gecko looked very smart in his helmet.
LCPL Aaron Howard Reed, Marines: Nationwide and the No. 88 team took special pains with the interpretation of the usual blue and white coloring of Dale Jr.'s machine. The use of stars & stripes certainly stirred the heart as the car sped around the track. http://www.jayski.com/schemes/2016/cup/cms1/CMS_600MOR_EarnhardtJr_052616.jpg
LCPL Cody Steven Childers, Marines: The No. 7 machine driven by Regan Smith is usually rather striking in its black and electric blue scheme for Nikko RC. However, when paired with some shooting stars over a field of rippling stripes, the resulting paint job was both patriotic and beautiful.
PFC Robert Stephan Underwood, Army: Just like a bag of our favorite chocolate snack, the No. 18 M&M's Camry was decorated in a collection of color. The Red Guy danced on the rear quarter panel, sporting a hat channeling Uncle Sam. Bright, fun and still showing reverence for our nation, the circles of red, white & blue were quite eye catching.
SFC Kyle B. Wehrly, Army: The No. 48 team usually puts together a sharp paint scheme for the Lowe's Chevrolet. This week, the simple clean lines recalled the stripes often found on a military ribbon, honoring those for their service rendered. Nicely done.
I hope you got to spend time over the weekend honoring those who have given their time and sometimes their lives just so we can enjoy hot dogs and potato salad in our backyards.
For my part, a hearty thank you goes out to everyone who is serving, has served or is entering into service with the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. Your sacrifice will never go unnoticed. Thank you again.
A simple and poignant illustration of the cost of human life given in service to our nation while fighting its enemies: 37,000 flags are planted on Boston Common every Memorial Day. Each flag is for a single fallen soldier from Massachusetts who has died since the Revolutionary War.
Numbers Game: Coca-Cola 600
by Tom Bowles
Incidents at Charlotte Sunday that involved more than one car. Only Kyle Busch, Brian Scott, and Jeffrey Earnhardt were involved in incidents during the 600-mile race.
Times in the last three years the winner of the Coca-Cola 600 has started from the pole. Jimmie Johnson accomplished the feat in 2014 and Martin Truex, Jr. did it Sunday.
Cars that failed to finish over the course of 600 miles: Reed Sorenson and Kyle Busch. Zero drivers failed to finish due to engine failure.
Second-place finishes for Kevin Harvick this season, the most of any driver. Harvick does have a win from Phoenix which has almost certainly locked the Sprint Cup point leader into the Chase.
Cautions for 19 laps on Sunday. That's the fewest for this race since 1975 (when Richard Petty won it).
Toyotas that have won at least one race this season and virtually locked themselves into the Chase. Toyotas have combined to win eight of 13 points-paying races overall along with six of the last seven.
Lead changes in Sunday's race. That's the fewest for the Coca-Cola 600 in its 56-year history and the second-fewest this season (Phoenix had seven).
Average finish for Martin Truex, Jr. this season, currently the best of his career.
Laps led out of 400 for Martin Truex, Jr. at Charlotte, a NASCAR record for the Coca-Cola 600. However, that percentage (98%) falls short of the overall record for the track. Ernie Irvan, back in 1993 led 328 of 334 laps in the fall Charlotte event.
Miles out of 600 led by Martin Truex, Jr. Sunday, a Charlotte and NASCAR record.
Laps led by Martin Truex, Jr. this season. It's a new career high, just 13 races into the season and that total leads the Cup Series.
Average speed for Sunday's race, a new track record for the Coca-Cola 600.
Tom Bowles is the Editor-in-Chief of Frontstretch. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Five Points to Ponder: Racing Legends New and Old
by Danny Peters
Q: 1986 was not a good year at Pocono for Neil Bonnett. The July race saw him get caught up in a multi-car crash on the North Straight that forced him to sit out the Talladega 500. The June race wasn't much better. What happened early on to compromise his day?
A: Very early in the race, Bonnett spun and hit the wall in turn 1 after contact from Dale Earnhardt. Bonnett was then hit by his own teammate, Darrell Waltrip. It was pretty much the worst case scenario for Junior Johnson. The crash can be seen here.
Bonnett was able to continue, but lost a lot of time and ended up finishing 11 laps down in 23rd. Waltrip was not so lucky. His car was significantly damaged and forced to retire from the event.
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