Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg takes a wild ride with Dale Earnhardt Jr. around Charlotte

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a lap through NASCAR country Tuesday afternoon – and literally around Charlotte Motor Speedway with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

After touring Hendrick Motorsports, Zuckerberg rode around the 1.5-mile oval as Earnhardt’s passenger and called it “an amazing experience” upon exiting the car (watch the video below).

“Did you enjoy it?” Earnhardt asked Zuckerberg during the event, which was broadcast on Facebook Live.

“Yeah, that was amazing,” Zuckerberg said. “I think there probably would be millions of people who would die to do what I just did.”

Zuckerberg then slid behind the wheel to make a few laps in a NASCAR Racing Experience stock car with coaching from Earnhardt via a radio headset. Zuckerberg hit the rev limiter on the second lap to Earnhardt’s delight (“You actually ran to the limit of the car … as fast as it can go!”).

“Thank you so much, this is a small glimpse of what is a really important community and industry in the country,” Zuckerberg told Earnhardt.

The social pioneer’s visit to the Charlotte area was part of a New Year’s resolution to visit and meet people in every state by the end of 2017. In a Facebook post explaining the project, Zuckerberg said he needs to travel to roughly 30 states this year to “talk to more people about how they’re living, working and thinking about the future.”

Zuckerberg said he wants to use Facebook to spread positive influence through communities, which is why he was attracted to NASCAR.

“NASCAR and driving and sports in general form the basis of a lot of communities,” he said during the Facebook Live broadcast. “It’s probably the biggest sport in the country that people go to and attend live.

“We all need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Certainly all the fans, the 3 million fans on Facebook who follow Dale Jr., for them NASCAR is a huge part of their identity. A lot of people pin their hopes on (Earnhardt) going out and winning.”

Noting that he compares his fans’ experience to his as a Washington Redskins fan (“If they win or lose, it makes or breaks my week.”), Earnhardt credited the communal spirit of his supporters. He also noted the community aspects of NASCAR.

“It’s one big circus that goes from town to town to town,” he said. “We all work in it together and understand how to put the sport in front of us individually. And the health of the sport is what’s paramount. So the fans are the beginning of that. If they don’t come watch us race, there’s no race. We try to cater and tend to the fan as much as we can so they come back next year and go to more races.”

The 14-time most popular driver also credited the motorhome lot with making NASCAR tight-knit among drivers, crew chiefs and team owners.

“That forms a lot of bonding, trust and camaraderie,” he said. “A lot of drivers work out together to stay fit. Just this week, Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson are in Colorado skiing together. So the drivers interact away from the track. All because we have to live together in such a close circle.

“We’re all in tune with what each other’s doing and everyone is part of each other’s lives. It’s brought a lot of the family atmosphere to the sport.”

NASCAR America: NASCAR’s stars hit the track for the ‘Little 600’ (video)

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Like more than three dozen of his NASCAR Cup counterparts, Joey Logano is gearing up for the longest race of the year, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

To warm up, Logano, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Darrell Wallace Jr. and other NASCAR drivers headed to the GoPro Motorplex in North Carolina for the “Little 600.”

Check out how they fared in the above video that was on Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America.

 

Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick will start on the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, marking the second consecutive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway he has led the field to the green flag.

Harvick, a two-time Coke 600 winner, earned the top starting spot Thursday night with a lap of 193.424 mph in his Ford. He’ll be joined on the front row by Kyle Busch, who won last weekend’s All-Star Race.

Chase Elliott starts third and is followed by Matt Kenseth and rookie Erik Jones.

Points leader Kyle Larson will start 39th in the 40-car field after not making a qualifying attempt. He hit the wall in practice and then his team couldn’t get through qualifying inspection until one minute remained in the opening round of the session. The team was unable to get Larson out of the garage in time to make an attempt.

Click here for Coca-Cola 600 starting lineup

Slugger Labbe: How do crew chiefs prepare for grueling Coca-Cola 600? (video)

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Veteran crew chief Slugger Labbe stopped by the NASCAR America studio in Charlotte on Thursday.

Labbe gave his perspective on how NASCAR Cup crew chiefs will prepare for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. While the race length will be the same as it has been for decades, one significant change will have crew chiefs developing strategy that they’ve never had to deal with in the 600, namely, four different race stages.

Labbe also gave his take on the positives and negatives of the Laser Inspection Station for both pre- and post-race inspections.

Check out the above video.

NASCAR: Remembering Martin Truex Jr.’s dominating 2016 Coca-Cola 600 win

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In one of the most dominating performances in NASCAR history, Martin Truex Jr. turned last year’s Coca-Cola 600 into a runaway one-man show, leading the field for 392 of 400 laps.

Thursday’s edition of NASCAR America took a look back at Truex’s record-setting win.

Check out the video above.