Photos by Daniel McFadin

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

Kyle Busch – No. 18 Toyota

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr. – No. 19 Toyota

 (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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

Xfinity Series

Michael Annett – No. 1 Chevrolet

Jefferey Earnhardt – No. 18 Toyota

Ryan Sieg – No. 39 Chevrolet

Mike Harmon – No. 74 Chevrolet

Monster Energy Open: Larson, Wallace, Byron, Bowman advance to All-Star Race

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MONSTER ENERGY OPEN UPDATE — CONCLUSION OF RACE:

Kyle Larson dominated the final stage of the Monster Energy Open to advance to tonight’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I had to be patient,” Larson told Fox Sports 1. “I knew I had a really good car so I didn’t want to put myself in a bad spot and get damage like other guys did in the segments.

“Hopefully, we can give ourselves a good shot and clean up our act in the next hour or so (when the All-Star Race begins).

Click here for full race results.

Larson joins Stage 2 winner Bubba Wallace and Stage 1 winner William Byron in transferring into the All-Star Race. A fourth driver, Alex Bowman, also advances to the All-Star Race by virtue of winning the Fan Vote.

Larson briefly had a challenge by Ty Dillon in the 10-lap final stage, but then pulled away and won uncontested.

Dillon finished second, followed by Bowman, Matt DiBenedetto, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Corey LaJoie and Michael McDowell.

The All-Star Race is slated to begin shortly after 8 p.m. ET.

MONSTER ENERGY OPEN UPDATE — END OF STAGE TWO:

Bubba Wallace held off a late charge by Daniel Suarez — sending the latter spinning after colliding — and Kyle Larsen in Stage 2 of the Monster Energy Open to advance to the NASCAR All-Star Race later tonight at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Wallace joins Stage 1 winner William Byron in advancing to the All-Star Race. One final stage remains in the Open.

“This has been tough and I’ve been feeling like a failure for a really long time, I didn’t give a damn out there,” Wallace told Fox Sports 1. “I love Suarez to death but he knows what’s on the line. … We needed this. I needed this.”

Like Stage 1, the scheduled 20-lap Stage 2 went into overtime. Ryan Preece and pole-sitter Daniel Hemric collided with two laps remaining, bringing out the caution.

Stage 2 ultimately went 25 total laps, including five laps of overtime. Kyle Larson finished second, followed by Suarez, Ty Dillon and David Ragan.

Sixth through 10th were Matt DiBenedetto, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Preece, Corey LaJoie and Alex Bowman

One final stage — a 10-lap shootout — remains in the Open. The winner of the final stage will also advance to the All-Star Race. A fourth driver will also advance by winning the Fan Vote.

MONSTER ENERGY OPEN — END OF STAGE 1

William Byron bumped his way into tonight’s NASCAR All-Star Race, bumping and then passing Bubba Wallace in the final turn to take Stage 1 of the Monster Energy Open at Charlotte Motor Speedway and will advance into the NASCAR All-Star Race later tonight.

Due to a caution late in Stage 1 when B.J. McLeod‘s car started smoking heavily, the scheduled 20 laps of Stage 1 went 27 laps. Byron was fourth when the white flag fell on the 24-driver Open field and was able to get by Wallace at the start-finish line to take the checkered flag.

“It was just crazy, the seas just parted for us,” Byron told Fox Sports 1. “It feels awesome to be in the All-Star Race. It’s a huge accomplishment for myself and Chad (crew chief Chad Knaus) has been here a number of times. It feels good.”

Two more stages remain: the 20-lap Stage 2 and the final 10-lap Stage 3 (the race winner). The winners of Stage 2 and the overall race winner will then join Byron in advancing to the All-Star Race.

A fourth driver will transfer to the All-Star Race by virtue of winning the fan vote.

Wallace finished second in Stage 1, followed by Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman.

Sixth through 10th were pole-sitter Daniel Hemric, Matt DiBenedetto, Paul Menard, David Ragan and Ryan Preece.

We’ll have the results of Stage 2 and the overall full results of the Open after their completion.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR releases findings from Kyle Larson’s crash at Talladega

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR says that damage to the right front of Kyle Larson’s car contributed to it getting airborne on the final lap of last month’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

NASCAR does not plan to make any changes to the cars based on this incident.

Larson was uninjured in the incident that saw his No. 42 Chevrolet roll multiple times after contact from William Byron’s car. The accident started when David Ragan’s car forced Byron into the wall. Byron’s car shot across the track and hit Larson’s car on the right side. Larson skidded toward the inside wall, his car getting airborne.

John Probst, NASCAR Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, estimated that Larson’s car was going 180 mph when it became airborne.

Probst stated Saturday that wind tunnel testing with the wicker on the rear spoiler before the Talladega weekend showed that lift-off speed for a car should have been 250 mph.

The difference in that speed and how fast Larson’s car was going before going airborne was due to the damage to the right front fender of Larson’s car.

“(NASCAR) engineers … created a model that simulated that damage to the rear of the right front wheel opening,” Probst said. “The results of that effectively showed us that when they had that damage, there is about a 70 mph reduction in the liftoff speed, which kind of put us in the 180-190 mph range. Our conclusion is the reason the car got off the ground is from the contact with (Byron’s) car that led to the spin to the right.”

The right rear wheel of Larson’s car appeared to be the first wheel to lose traction with the track as Larson skidded toward the inside wall on the backstretch at Talladega. Even with the roof and hood flaps deploying, air packed underneath the car and turned the right side up to where the underbody was visible as the car hit the wall nose first.

NASCAR’s research include studying replays of the accident, information from the car’s incident data recorder and dozens of computer simulations. Probst estimated five people from NASCAR spent “several days” examining the cause of the accident.

Probst said that teams will be told of the results of his incident in a competition meeting Wednesday.

NASCAR community mourns death of former Truck owner Mike Mittler

Photo: Jamie McMurray
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Former and current NASCAR drivers mourned the passing of former Truck Series owner Mike Mittler on Friday. Mittler was 67.

Mittler’s Truck teams competed in 301 series races from 1995-2018. Although his team never won a Truck race, it made an impact in NASCAR, providing rides for such drivers as Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Justin Allgaier and Brad Keselowski, among others. Copp Motorsports announced before the season it was dedicating the year to Mittler. The team changed its number from 83 to 63.

“If it wasn’t for people like Mike who have paved the way, we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have now to participate in NASCAR,” Copp Motorsports owner DJ Copp said.

Mittler stated Oct. 3, 2017, on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He stated in that posting that he had his first chemo treatment that day and was at the shop after the treatment.

Many in the sport paid tribute to Mittler on Friday.

Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, stated about Mittler: “Mike was special. He was a great man who inspired many. I value each moment shared with him through the years, especially those in the garage along with my son.”

Here is what others in the sport said about Mittler:

NASCAR will review Kyle Larson’s airborne crash on last lap

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NASCAR will investigate Kyle Larson’s last-lap crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after the No. 42 Chevrolet went airborne after a spin and rolled over several times.

After being hit on the right side by William Byron’s No. 24 Chevy, Larson’s car slid sideways toward the inside SAFER barrier on the backstretch.

About 50 feet from the wall, his right-rear tire began lifting off the pavement. Larson’s car was virtually perpendicular to the pavement when it impacted the barrier head on and then flipped multiple times.

NASCAR often has reacted with safety enhancement after cars have gotten airborne by spinning. After multiple cars went airborne in the May 1, 2016 race, NASCAR also launched an investigation. Larson’s incident was similar to Matt Kenseth’s in the race three years ago as their cars seemed to lift off without contact in both instances.

“Initially I thought I was going to hit the inside wall and right before I got there, it started to lift,” said the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who finished 24th. “That was probably the longest flip I’ve ever had. I just didn’t know if it would ever stop.

“I knew I was flipping and was just hoping I wouldn’t get any closer to the catchfence. It was a little bit scary, but I’m all right. Thanks to the fab shop at Chip Ganassi Racing for building safe race cars. Like I said, it was scary, but I’m just thankful I’m OK.”

NASCAR spokesman Tom Bryant told NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long that the crash would be analyzed to “determine all the factors that led to it.”

The four-car wreck began when David Ragan (who said the wreck “was my fault”) bumped Byron, starting the chain reaction that collected Jeffrey Earnhardt and Larson.

It was the second incident on the final lap. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had crashed hard into the outside wall shortly after winner Chase Elliott took the white flag, but NASCAR (which was monitoring Stenhouse’s wreck) held the yellow until just as the final wreck began.

NASCAR said the last yellow was because of debris from Stenhouse’s No. 17 Ford. The race report initially listed the reason for the last caution as “17, 24, 42, 38, 81, incident backstretch” (even though Stenhouse’s crash happened on the frontstretch) but was updated as of Monday morning to show the final caution was for “Debris.”

There were three multicar crashes in the race, but Larson’s Camaro was the only car to get airborne after concerns about escalating speeds with a new rules package.

Ryan Newman told Long after practice Friday that NASCAR had prepared poorly for the spike in increased closing rates.

“I think we kept most of the race cars on the race track which was probably a lot of luck,” Newman said Sunday after finishing seventh. “I don’t know that (the racing) was much different. You got bigger runs, but the end result was basically the same. We are still at the mercy of other people’s mistakes which will always be a part of racing here. In the end I am glad all the race cars stayed on the racetrack.”