Starting off the Chase Contender round, here is what was surprising and not surprising in the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Surprising: While the race was at most drivers’ home tracks, there was another track, one big superspeedway that seemed to be on many driver’s minds, including the race winner Joey Logano.
“We had a great car, the driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford said in Victory Lane. “Charlotte is everybody’s home turf and you want to make it happen here.”
“This makes Talladega way easier. I know that’s on everyone’s mind when this round starts and last year we won Kansas when it was the first race of this round and now we were able to get it this time at Charlotte. We’ll get lots of sleep here the next couple of weeks.”
This was Logano’s first win at Charlotte, his fourth victory of the season, and his ticket into the Eliminator Round for the Sprint Cup championship.
Not Surprising: For the third time in the season, the No. 4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet driven by Kevin Harvick finished runner-up to race winner Logano. This was also Harvick’s eleventh time to finish in the second spot for the season.
“We could hang with him (Joey Logano), but I would just lose him every once in a while in traffic,” Harvick said. “It was just extremely hard to pass. But all in all, we weren’t very good all weekend and the guys just did a great job on pit road and made our car better throughout the day.”
“And if those are the off-days, we’ll be just fine.”
Surprising: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. no doubt expressed the sentiment of many drivers, including himself after taking the checkered flag.
“It ain’t over,” the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet said after finishing 28th. “Don’t worry about that. I mean, we don’t have to go to Talladega and be nervous like those guys that are going to have to play it safe. We can just go hard. So, we’ve got a great car that can win that race.”
“We can go to Kansas and run great. I like that track and don’t see why we can’t run great there and maybe win the race there.”
“It ain’t over.”
Not Surprising: Jeff Gordon was in a sunny mood, thankful for a day race instead of a night race and for finishing eighth when his teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne finished 28th, 39th and 43rd respectively.
“The day race helped us starting 22nd,” the driver of the No. 24 3M Chevrolet said. “At night, it’s so grippy and fast and it’s hard to get multiple grooves; where during the day with the sun being out and heating up the track, losing a little bit of grip, I think it helped.”
“I thought it was a really, really strong effort.”
Surprising: There were just ‘too many’ for Matt Kenseth at today’s Charlotte race. The driver of the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota finished 42nd after having too many men over the wall too many times, too many close encounters with the outside wall, and too many mistakes on pit road.
“Yeah, I don’t know,” Kenseth said. “Everything kind of snowballed, you know? We were real fast out front, we were kind of tight in traffic and got behind pitting and then I missed the pit stall trying to come around the 21 (Ryan Blaney) and had to back up in the pit and that put us back there, so just kind of snowballed.”
Not Surprising: Aric Almirola may not be chasing a championship, but he and his team feel that they are definitely onto something after finishing top-10 in the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Smithfield Ford.
“I’m really happy with our consistency and we just have to keep working at it,” Almirola said. “We have a few more weeks to go to try and steal a win, but, otherwise, I think we’re on to something.”
“I think we’re running a lot better and I’m really proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports for bringing me these nice race cars these last six weeks.”
Surprising: After a close encounter with a pyrotechnics display in the Xfinity race, Austin Dillon remained on fire in the Cup race with a seventh place finish. The driver of the No. 3 DOW – Great Stuff Chevrolet not only finished top-ten in the big show but also busted off a win in the Xfinity race earlier in the weekend.
Not Surprising: At a track the size of Charlotte Motor Speedway, it was not surprising that there was more action in the pits than on the track. Most notably was the collision between the two Kyles, with Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson making contact while coming to pit road.
“I don’t know what happened,” Busch said. “Just can’t say enough about my guys – all the work that they put into these things. They don’t deserve to be put in these situations year in, year out, but we are for some reason.”
“But it’s tough and we’re going to have to battle through with what we’ve got right now.”
Surprising: Battery challenge….no problem. In spite of battery issues, Denny Hamline still managed to finish fourth, scoring highest finishing Toyota of the race.
“I ran on the wrong battery all day so we have one battery I guess to run everything and then one to run the motor so I was draining both of them,” the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota said. “My mistake, I usually start on one and run on the other and I just got switched.”
Not Surprising: Martin Truex Jr. could possibly have a second career operating a lemonade stand. He made the best out of a car that he thought was a bit of a lemon, finishing third in his No. 78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet.
“It was just hard work and a never-give-up attitude,” Truex said. “I honestly, this morning, I was really nervous going into the race thinking we’d be lucky to run 15th with what we had in practice. And Jeff Burton asked me before the race what I thought about my car. And I was like I don’t know; I don’t feel too good about it.”
“So, I’m just really proud of the guys for working hard. The pit stops were great on pit road. This was a big hurdle and now we go to our best track at Kansas, and hopefully getting two more.”