Raikkonen Makes NNS Debut, Edwards Looks to Sweep, Newman Seeks Another Pole During Coca-Cola 600 Weekend

CONCORD, N.C. (May 23, 2011) – The only 600-mile event on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway tests the endurance of both drivers and equipment. Here are several competition-related news and notes heading into the Coca-Cola 600 Weekend that begins with Thursday’s Windstream Pole Night.

Kimi Raikkonen Will Make NASCAR Nationwide Series Debut in Top Gear 300 Formula One 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Top Gear 300. Raikkonen will be in the No. 87 car fielded by NEMCO Motorsports, owned by Joe Nemechek. Raikkonen made his NASCAR debut in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where he recorded a lead-lap 15th place finish. KBM is partnering with NEMCO Motorsports on the car for Raikkonen.

High-Profile Drivers Still Searching for Charlotte Motor Speedway Victory Carl Edwards may now have a NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race victory under his belt, but one thing he doesn’t have is a points-race win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Edwards is not alone, as many high-profile NASCAR drivers are still searching for that elusive points-paying victory in Charlotte, including Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. Coca-Cola 600 race week brings fond memories to many drivers whose first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories came in the Memorial Day Weekend race. David Pearson, Casey Mears, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte are among the first-time winners at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with David Reutimann being the most recent first time winner at the track, thanks to his Coca-Cola 600 victory in 2009.

American Muscle

Newman Chasing Pearson for All-Time Pole Awards at Charlotte NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ryan Newman is looking to add to his pole position count in Thursday’s Windstream Pole Night qualifying for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Newman currently leads all active drivers with nine career poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway, followed closely by Jeff Gordon with eight. In 2010, Newman captured his second straight Coca-Cola 600 pole and the ninth in 19 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Racing legend and NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee David Pearson still leads the all-time pole winner list at Charlotte with 14, including 11 straight from 1973 to 1978. Thirty-seven drivers have earned NASCAR Sprint Cup Series poles at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Edwards Looking to Become Eighth Driver to Sweep May Races at Charlotte With a win in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Ford, would become the eighth driver to sweep the May races at Charlotte Motor Speedway: the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. Last year Kurt Busch won both May races, but failed to complete the full-year sweep with a win in the Bank of America 500 in October. No driver has won all three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a single season. Other drivers sweeping the May races include Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991); Dale Earnhardt (1993); Jeff Gordon (1997); Jimmie Johnson (2003); and Kasey Kahne (2008).

Tickets for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway can be purchased online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com or by calling the speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS (3267). Fans can purchase two frontstretch tickets with the best views of the world’s largest HDTV for just $99.

For daily updates on May race activities, connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CLTMotorSpdwy or become a Facebook fan at www.facebook.com/charlottemotorspeedway.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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