Up To Speed: Harvick wins wild Kansas race

David Barr

A record 15 cautions flew at the Kansas Speedway on Sunday and one of the Chase drivers was involved in exactly 1/5 of those cautions and saw his title hopes take a major hit. Congratulations to Kevin Harvick and his win at Kansas. It was Harvick’s third win of the season and his first at Kansas. Now the teams get to stay home for a few weeks as it’s time to go racing at the track that’s in the heart of NASCAR country, Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Charlotte Motor Speedway opened in 1959 after being constructed by current chairman Bruton Smith and the late Curtis Turner, a former driver. In 1960, the first 600-mile race was run at Charlotte and now is held on the Sunday before Memorial Day. In addition to the 600-mile event, Charlotte Motor Speedway also hosted a 400-mile race from 1960-1965. Starting in 1966, the second race was given another 100 miles, making it its current 500-mile distance. Starting in 1985, Charlotte Motor Speedway began to play host to a third race, NASCAR’s version of an all-star game, then called The Winston. After a one-year hiatus, The Winston returned to Charlotte in 1987 and has been held at Charlotte ever since. In 1992, Charlotte became the first track over a mile in length to have lights installed, and The Winston was held on a Saturday night that was billed as “One Hot Night”.

The 500-mile race was held on Sunday afternoons until 2003. The 2002 fall race was delayed by rain until late afternoon and it ended under the lights. The following year, Charlotte decided to move its 500-mile race from Sunday afternoon to Saturday night. When the Chase was implemented in 2004, Charlotte became the only prime-time Saturday night race in the Chase.

In 1999, Lowe’s Home Improvement chain bought the naming rights to the speedway, which made Charlotte the first track to have a corporate sponsor, much like NFL, NHL, MLB, and NBA stadiums. After the 2009 season, Lowe’s decided not to renew its contract with the speedway, and the name returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Defending Winner: Clint Bowyer

Most wins among active drivers: Jimmie Johnson (6)

Prediction: After Sunday’s dominating win on Sunday, I’m going with Kevin Harvick. Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 this spring, and if he is to make a run at this championship, he’s going to have to continue to produce results at the remaining 1.5-mile tracks like he did on Sunday. I believe he can make it two in a row and break out the broom on Saturday night.