For the 60th time in NASCAR history teams will descend upon Charlotte Motor Speedway for the running of one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events the Coca-Cola 600. The storied history of this event goes back to 1960 with the running of the longest event on the schedule, that day Joe Lee Johnson would go on to take the first checkered flag.
Fast forward a few years to 2018 Kyle Busch would take home the win at Charlotte leading 377 of the 400 laps just shy of Martin Truex Jr. record of 394 laps set back in 2016.
Going to victory lane that night in 2018 Busch would check off what at the time was the last remaining points paying race at a track he had not won on during the regular season.
Busch who has 11 top-10 finishes in the 12 events ran this year with one 30th place finish back at Kansas after a late race penalty. As a result, Busch now trails Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader Joey Logano by a mere nine points.
Sitting at second in the standings and having won this race last year, it's not too surprising to see Busch with the shortest odds to win this weekend, though Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick aren't too far behind, both of whom have won here in the past.
Earlier this week Denny Hamlin his teammate made waves when he made comments to the fact the Coca-Cola 600 might be too long, and should it be shortened he felt it would hold the same prestige to him if he won. Busch on the other hand is a fan of the annual 600-mile event.
“I like running the 600 miles,’’ Busch said. “I think it brings a different aspect to our sport – it’s longevity. People will say, ‘It’s too long. It’s boring.’ Whatever. Well, you know, it’s a part of the product and history that we’ve had on Memorial Day weekend for a long time that you run the extra hundred miles.
“And car preparation goes into that. Will your car make it? Will your engine last? Are the drivers able to be competitive throughout the whole race? You’ll have fatigue sometimes, even at a 500-mile race. So, if you don’t show signs of weakness, you should be pretty good.’’
Hamlin for his part is still looking for a win at Charlotte. Over the years Hamlin has made 26 starts at Charlotte with nine top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
“I’m proud of our team and the character we’ve shown so far this season. We started off hot with two wins and our focus is to get back to that momentum and achieve our next victory and move up in the standings.”