News and notes from the Coca-Cola 600:
First practice for this Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 is over. Mark Martin was fastest of the 41 drivers with a quick lap of 185.217.
Other notables on the leader board are Jimmie Johnson, second; Dale Earnhardt Jr., sixth; Joey Lagano, seventh; Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch rounded out the top ten. Jeff Gordon was just outside the top 10, at 11th.
The morning started off with a moving tribute to David Poole.
The deadline room at the Time Warner media center was dedicated to the memory of Poole. A plaque containing Poole’s name, and years of service with the Charlotte Observer was placed above the door during the ceremony.
Lowe's Motor Speedway announced today that tickets for this week’s events were purchased from fans around the world. All 50 states will be represented as well as 10 foreign countries, including Canada, Bermuda, and the United Kingdom.
A host of NASCAR legends are on hand for the weekend. Donnie and Bobby Allison, Marvin Panch, and Waddell Wilson are just a few of the stars who will sign autographs and pose for fan pictures. Bobby Allison is this year's Grand Marshal.
Scott Speed and Jimmie Johnson are wearing different paint schemes this weekend. Johnson’s Lowes Chevrolet is painted almost all white, and when wearing his driver’s suit, Johnson could be mistaken for Captain America.
On the heels of a minor procedure on his back, Jeff Gordon held a short press conference updating his progress.
He feels he is ready to race, but, back problems or no back problems, he feels that 600 miles is just too long for a race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth on the speed chart, but was visibly unhappy in the garage. His conversation with Tony Eury Jr. seemed a bit strained, and at one point Earnhardt walked to the rear of the car and started hoisting tires.
Speaking of tires, Earnhardt Jr. changed from the usually slick racing tires to a grooved tire for qualifying.
Nationwide cars will have their second practice at 6pm, and qualifying will be immediately afterwards.