To win the Coca-Cola 600, you have to go through Kasey Kahne

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To win the Coca-Cola 600, you have to go through Kasey Kahne.

Kahne has threatened to usurp the title of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s master driver from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with his performance in the nightcap of Memorial Day Sunday. Johnson has more wins in total at the track (six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races, plus four All-Star race wins), but Kahne has more recently.

Kahne won his first race for Hendrick this race a year ago. He also won at CMS in 2006 and 2008.

“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Kahne said last year, as he’d gotten off to a rough start to his season in the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.

Coupled with crew chief Kenny Francis, Kahne is one of two big favorites to capture the win in NASCAR’s longest race. The other, of course, is Johnson, who had won three straight Coca-Cola 600s from 2003 to 2005.

The car has changed for NASCAR this year in Charlotte, but chances are high the winner won’t.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”