Keep an eye on these drivers during NASCAR’s longest Sprint Cup race of the season Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Charlotte has always been a good place for Logano, who has a series-leading average finish of 9.6 there, but it’s been even better for him most recently with wins there in the 2015 Sprint Cup playoffs and now the 2016 Sprint All-Star Race. This season, Logano’s been solid on mile-and-a-halves with finishes of second at Las Vegas and third at Texas; another top-five run was in the cards at Kansas, but he was caught in the late crash triggered by Denny Hamlin’s ill-fated, three-wide move on Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson.
Edwards won the Coca-Cola 600 last year, but only after he stretched his final fuel tank 62 laps. With Joe Gibbs Racing having dominated the first third of the season, expect him to be much stronger Sunday. At Charlotte, he’s earned five consecutive top-10 finishes and eight top-10 finishes in the last nine races overall. Also, with the 600 being the longest race of the year, we can’t discount Edwards’ high level of physical fitness. It’s an advantage that could become more important as the night wears on.
Not much of a stretch here considering his work on mile-and-a-half tracks this season. But Harvick has been especially stout at Charlotte since 2013. Over his last six races there, he’s scored two wins, four top-two finishes, and an average finish of 3.5. His worst finish during that span? Ninth in last year’s 600.
Coming off a 15-point penalty that put him on the outside looking in with regards to the playoff picture, Kahne and the No. 5 team need a solid run this weekend. Kahne is a four-time winner at Charlotte but hasn’t visited Victory Lane there since the 2012 Coke 600. However, he’s still been decent. Before he crashed out there last fall, Kahne had posted an average finish of 7.0 at Charlotte over the previous seven races.
Larson has been on the losing end of late duels for the win at Dover and the Sprint All-Star Race, but he’s re-ignited the promise of his 2014 rookie season. He’ll look to become the seventh driver to earn his first Cup win in the 600, and a victory would erase a sizable, 40-point deficit to 16th place on the Chase Grid. However, his career results at Charlotte have been mixed so far (one top-10 finish in five starts).