Kasey Kahne to channel Geoff Bodine’s 1984 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy in Southern 500 at Darlington

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(Photo courtesy Hendrick Motorsports)

Kasey Kahne will join the retro throwback look in the return to the traditional Labor Day weekend for the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Kahne’s No. 5 HendrickRideAlong.com Chevrolet will carry a theme similar to Hendrick Motorsports’ first-ever entry at the Track Too Tough To Tame. Geoff Bodine drove the original All-Star Racing Monte Carlo at Darlington back in 1984, the year Rick Hendrick founded Hendrick Motorsports.

“We finished 35th in our first Darlington race back in ’84 and nearly closed the doors,” Hendrick said in a media release. “Martinsville was next on the schedule, and (crew chief) Harry Hyde did a great sales job and talked me into running one more race.

“He was convinced Geoff could win there, and, thankfully, he was right. We were able to get a sponsor, which allowed us to finish the season and set the table for everything that’s happened since.”

Kahne was just four years old when Bodine drove the No. 5 at Darlington.

“I think the car looks great,” Kahne said. “I am excited to drive it at Darlington, a track that we have come close to winning at in the past and been fast at since I’ve been in Cup. It is a big weekend, Labor Day weekend, the Southern 500 – that is a race that I really want to win, and to be in a great looking, old-school paint job.

“I think the fans will really enjoy it,” Kahne said. “I know from me being a race fan as well as a driver, I like the retro. I like the older look of cars once in a while. I’ll be doing it, Chase Elliott, Dale (Earnhardt), Jimmie (Johnson) – there’s a bunch of us doing it throughout that weekend, so I think it is really neat to bring that back on a big race weekend.”

But the retro look isn’t the only thing on Kahne’s mind. He’s hoping to win Sunday night’s race, which would put him in the 16-driver Chase field.

“It would mean a ton to win the Southern 500,” he said. “It has always been one of those races I wanted to win as much as any other one. We have come close but haven’t been able to do it. But to do it in this car, that time of the year right before the Chase – I think with momentum and confidence it would be the perfect time.”

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Christopher Bell’s car damaged by man-hole cover

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CONCORD, N.C. — There is a slightly different traffic pattern in the Xfinity Series garage this weekend after Christopher Bell‘s front end was damaged by a man-hole cover early in practice Thursday.

The splitter on Bell’s No. 20 Toyota was damaged by the man-hole cover, which is located at the end of the garage where the cars run through as they exit the garage.

Bell’s team made repairs quickly and he was able to continue.

As a result, NASCAR has placed traffic cones in the area to divert traffic around the area.

The man-hole cover that damaged Christopher Bell’s car (Daniel McFadin)
The traffic cones set up to keep cars from running over the man-hole cover (middle cone) (Daniel McFadin)

Daniel Hemric fastest in first Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Hemric was fastest in the first Cup Series practice session for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600.

Hemric posted a top speed of 182.791 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He was followed by Chase Elliott (182.340 mph), William Byron (182.211), Kyle Busch (182.168) and Jimmie Johnson (182.008).

Alex Bowman was seventh to put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top 10.

Austin Dillon in eighth gave Chevrolet six cars in the top 10.

Landon Cassill recorded the most laps in the session with 37. He was 32nd on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.

Shane Lee to drive for new Xfinity team with Circuit City sponsorship

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CONCORD, N.C. — Former Richard Childress Racing driver Shane Lee will compete for a new Xfinity Series team, H2 Motorsports, the team announced Thursday at Charlotte Motor speedway

Owned by 23-year-old entrepreneur and venture capitalist Matt Hurley, the team will be sponsored by Circuit City and will field Lee in the No. 28 Toyota with support from Toyota Racing Development. They’ll debut June 16 at Iowa Speedway with plans to compete for the rest of the season.

Circuit City, which is primarily an online store now, was notably a sponsor of Hut Stricklin from 1996-98 in the Cup Series.

“I grew up an avid race fan, my parents are from the Midwest and I’ve followed the sport very, very closely since I was a young kid,” Hurley said. “More recently felt like there was an opportunity to go into the sport and bring some of our invested brands back into the sport. I’ve really taken an interest in kind of trying to find a way in.

“We felt like now is the right time to enter the sport, to come in in a competitive way. … Felt like TRD was the right partner to help us do that in a competitive way.”

Lee, 25, competed in the Xfinity Series last year, making 13 starts in RCR’s No. 3 Chevrolet. His best result and only top five was a fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway in October.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Lee said. “I met Matt at a couple races last year. We actually became pretty good friends and we weren’t really even working on a racing deal. Probably January or February we started talking about the race deal and wanting to get into racing. We sort of went from there and he got himself figured out and he really went down the line and hired some really good people.”

Lee will be paired with crew chief Pete Rondeau. Rondeau has 103 Cup races to his name, including as crew chief for Regan Smith’s 2011 Southern 500 win.

Rondeau also has one Xfinity Series win with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Bristol in 2004.

“I’ve had a history of accepting challenges,” Rondeau said. “As we did with Furniture Row team, we worked hard and … it ended up flourishing into a championship-caliber team. To me this is no different right here. We have a good core group and I’m happy to work with them. It’s going to be fun and a whole lot of work at the same time.”

Gallery: Coca-Cola 600 patriotic paint schemes

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With Memorial Day weekend here, many NASCAR teams will be racing patriotic paint schemes in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the unique schemes that will compete in NASCAR’s longest race.

All photos by Daniel McFadin.

Landon Cassill – No. 00 Chevrolet

Brad Keselowski – No. 2 Ford

Ryan Newman – No. 6 Ford

Aric Almirola – No. 10 Ford

Ty Dillon – No. 13 Chevrolet

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – No. 17 Ford

William Byron – No. 24 Chevrolet

Corey LaJoie – No. 32 Ford

 

Michael McDowell – No. 34 Ford

Matt Tifft – No. 36 Ford

David Ragan – No. 36 Ford

Ryan Preece – No. 47 Chevrolet

Jimmie Johnson – No. 48 Chevrolet

Cody Ware – No. 51 Ford

Bayley Currey – No. 52 Ford

BJ McLeod – No. 53 Chevrolet

Alex Bowman – No. 88 Chevrolet