By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Xchange
CONCORD, N.C. -- With three victories to his credit so far this season, Matt Kenseth has to be considered a serious threat in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kenseth picked up the first of his 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories in the 2000 edition of the 600. No wonder he considers it his favorite race.
"The 600 has always been unique," Kenseth said Thursday at Charlotte. "We had our first win here, so maybe that's part of it. This is the track that I made my first Nationwide start at, and I have more miles here at this track than any other on the circuit."
To Kenseth, part of the cachet of NASCAR's longest race is the difficulty in keeping up with changing track conditions.
"The track goes through huge changes," Kenseth said. "Typically, it's very different in the beginning of the race when the sun is still out. It's usually hot and slick, and then, at the end of the race, after four hours of racing or four-and-a-half hours of racing, the track is as fast as it's ever going to be, and everybody picks up a second -- and it's on.
"It's like you wait four hours to run a trophy dash. It's just a fun event. A lot goes on, you have to pay attention for a long time and really keep up with the adjustments -- just one I look forward to and look forward to the challenge."
BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
In the aftermath of the flap over Bruton Smith contemplating a move of the fall Charlotte race to Las Vegas, Jeff Gordon supports a second date in Vegas -- but not at Charlotte's expense.
"I can't imagine not racing here three times a year, or certainly two points races," Gordon said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which currently hosts the Coca-Cola 600 and non-points Sprint All-Star Race in May and the Bank of America 500 in October. "I love racing here. It's nice to be home, and this is such a special racetrack."
So what would his reaction be to Charlotte losing a date?
"I would hate to see that," Gordon said. "But at the same time, I think Las Vegas makes great sense from a marketing standpoint. When we look at the sport and where we're at and how to grow it and get those seats filled, you would certainly think that a race in Las Vegas in October would do pretty well. I think Las Vegas deserves to have two races, (but) I would not want to see us take away a race from here."
If not Charlotte, what might Gordon propose as an alternative?
"Without putting any names out there, there are some other tracks that could maybe give up one," Gordon said with a laugh.
With Kurt Busch turning laps in an IndyCar and A.J. Allmendinger competing in both Sprint Cup racing and the Indianapolis 500 this year, Antron Brown is the latest driver to provide evidence that the need for speed isn't confined to a single form of motorsports.
Brown, the reigning NHRA Top Fuel champion, will test a stock car at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va., on Tuesday. Brown's first experience in a K&N Pro Series Toyota is the product of a partnership between Rev Racing and Toyota.
Brown is the first African-American driver to win a major auto racing championship in the United States.
"He's a great ambassador for the motorsports world, and his commitment to diversity is something that makes this partnership really work," said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing, which fields cars for participants in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program.
Brown is interested to see whether he can make left turns on an oval as successfully as he runs a straight line in NHRA competition.
"My deal is that I'm very competitive in whatever I do, and I just want to compete," Brown said Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "When I go out there, I just want to learn the right way. I know I've positioned myself with the right organization to do that with Rev Racing through Toyota.
"We're going to take it one step at a time, and I just want to take steps to learn everything and actually develop my driving ability to drive ovals. I know I can go straight, but now I have to put a left-hand turn in there, and we'll see where it goes from there."