Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race was one of the most exciting events of the year thus far, but there were no points on the line and fans are once again focused on which drivers will make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Veteran driver Jamie McMurray stole the show and the $1 million prize under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway, but many fans have already started talking about next weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at the same track.
Nothing says Memorial Day weekend like the longest NASCAR race of the season.
Here are the latest Sprint Cup Series points standings, the remaining schedule and a focus on next week’s 600-mile race at Charlotte.
|2014 Sprint Cup Standings|
|4||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||368||-26|
Here's a look at the remainder of the Sprint Cup schedule:
|2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule|
|Sun, May 25||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte Motor Speedway||6 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 1||FedEx 400||Dover International Speedway||1 p.m.||Fox|
|Sun, June 8||Pocono 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 15||Quicken Loans 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, June 22||Toyota-Save Mart 350||Sonoma||3 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, June 28||Quaker State 400||Kentucky Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sat, July 5||Coke Zero 400||Daytona International Speedway||7:30 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 13||Camping World RV Sales 301||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||TNT|
|Sun, July 27||Crown Royal 400||Indianapolis Motor Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 3||GoBowling.com 400||Pocono Raceway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 10||Cheez-It 355 at The Glen||Watkins Glen International||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Aug. 17||Pure Michigan 400||Michigan International Speedway||1 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Aug. 23||Irwin Tools Night Race||Bristol Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, Aug. 31||AdvoCare 500||Atlanta Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Sept. 6||Federated Auto Parts 400||Richmond International Raceway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Sprint Cup Chase for the Cup Begins|
|Sun, Sept. 14||Sprint Cup Series at Chicago||Chicagoland Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Sept. 21||SYLVANIA 300||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Sept. 28||AAA 400||Dover International Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Oct. 5||Hollywood Casino 400||Kansas Speedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sat, Oct. 11||Bank of America 500||Charlotte Motor Speedway||7:30 p.m.||ABC|
|Sun, Oct. 19||Geico 500||Talladega Superspeedway||2 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun, Oct. 26||Goody's Headache Relief Shot 500||Martinsville Speedway||1:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, Nov. 2||AAA Texas 500||Texas Motor Speedway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, Nov. 9||Quicken Loans Race For Heroes 500||Phoenix International Raceway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sunday, Nov. 16||Ford EcoBoost 400||Homestead-Miami Speedway||3 p.m.||ESPN|
Breaking Down the Coca-Cola 600
The excitement from the Sprint Cup All-Star Race has the motorsports world buzzing with excitement, and there is no better way to follow it up than with a 600-mile race under the lights of Charlotte Motor Speedway. Not only is this the longest race of the year, but this event also takes place on Memorial Day weekend and offers the fans an exciting event Sunday night that they can look forward to as a sign of the extended time off.
The Coca-Cola 600 has become one of the biggest races of the year. Add in the fact that most NASCAR teams are based out of the North Carolina area, and this event is a unique mixture of hardcore racing and a family-friendly atmosphere.
One of the drivers to watch in this event is a perennial threat at this track and a three-time winner of this race, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team. After failing to win the Sprint All-Star Race Saturday, Johnson and his team will be hunting for the checkered flag next weekend.
The driver of the 48 told Randy Covitz of The Kansas City Star about the difference between the Sprint All-Star Race and next Sunday’s 600-mile night race:
It definitely changes things. People are willing to take more risks and opportunities … if you’re really looking from second to first. I think if second place is in reaching distance of the leader, he will certainly do what he can for $1 million and no implications in points.
From fifth to fourth, it doesn’t pay much. Why are you going to risk making the guy in fourth mad? He’s going to come after you the following week. Given the race format, I think it certainly can make things exciting.
Mary Jo Buchanan of Speedway Media talks about how Johnson could make history in the Coca-Cola 600:
While he's won the race three times over the course of his career, Johnson has not been to Victory Lane in the 600 since 2005. Hendrick Motorsports has won the race twice since JJ's last victory at Charlotte (Casey Mears in 2007 and Kasey Kahne in 2012), but the No. 48 team has failed to live up to the lofty expectations.
In 25 starts at Charlotte, Johnson has an average finish of 11.6 and has racked up six wins, 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s. On the other hand, the team also has four DNFs during that period and has struggled to find consistency over the last several years.
With a stacked field and several drivers entering the race with a scary combination of talent, equipment and momentum, Johnson will once again rise to the occasion and take the No. 48 car to Victory Lane at the Coca-Cola 600.
Predicted Winner: Jimmie Johnson
*Stats via NASCAR.com.