In spite of a poor on-track product given the state of NASCAR’s NextGen short-track program, North Wilkesboro provided a weekend full of excitement and nostalgia. The less said about the actual race won by Kyle Larson the better. I choose to focus on the positives like the return to a track thought lost and the incredible energy from the crowd all weekend. With that in mind, I still consider the weekend a success in the Appalachian Foothills. Next up, NASCAR stays in the Old North State this weekend as they head south to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600.
While Formula 1 takes the streets of Monaco and IndyCar heads to the hallowed ground of Indianapolis for the 500, NASCAR’s best will run the longest race of the season at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Thankfully for NASCAR fans, Charlotte’s 1.5-mile length means the Coca-Cola 600 with the NextGen car should provide excellent on-track action.
Making his return from injury, Alex Bowman fills the seat of the #48 car once more. The #48’s former pilot, Jimmie Johnson, will also return to action this weekend as he races in the #84 for Legacy Motor Club. Meanwhile, Todd Gilliland shifts over to the #51 for the weekend while rookie Zane Smith fills the #38 that Gilliland normally occupies.
As mentioned above – these intermediate tracks tend to perform well with the NextGen cars. I’m expecting plenty of side-by-side racing but it is also important to remember that length of this race should see some attrition. Whether mechanical attrition or driver mistakes make up the bulk of the issues, you can expect some drivers to fall out over the course of 600 miles.
Before getting caught up in the wild accident shown in the video above, Daniel Suárez had one of the best cars in the 2022 Coca-Cola 600. I’d expect Suárez to be near the front once more, as well as his Trackhouse teammate Ross Chastain.
Looking for a dark horse? Legacy Motor Club hasn’t had much speed in 2023 but anytime Jimmie Johnson makes his way to Charlotte, he has to be considered as a threat. The 7-Time champ has eight wins at the track. Is he likely to be a frontrunner? No, but stranger things have happened.
Be sure to check out the schedule below so that you don’t miss any on-track action for a loaded weekend of racing. Be sure to keep an eye on the weather as there is a chance of rain all weekend in Charlotte.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Qualifying – 1:05 p.m. CT on FS1
NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 3:05 p.m. CT on FS1
General Tire 150 (ARCA Menards Series) – 5:00 p.m. CT on FS1
North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) – 7:30 p.m. CT on FS1
Alsco Uniforms 300 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 11:00 a.m. CT on FS1
NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 6:50 p.m. CT on FS1
Coca-Cola 600 (NASCAR Cup Series) – 5:00 p.m. CT on FOX