The Memorial Day holiday has traditionally been auto racing’s most historic weekend, with three of the biggest races in the world — Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix, IndyCar’s Indy 500, and NASCAR’s 600-mile race — all being contested.
But this racing weekend will be historic for a different reason. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Monaco Grand Prix will not be contested in 2020, for the first time since 1955.
The Indy 500 has been postponed to Aug. 23. However, speedway officials have indicated the race could be pushed back to October, if the virus situation warrants.
The only major event to be contested will be NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. That event will also be much different as no fans will be in attendance.
Over the last several years, I have used this column to prognosticate who may prevail in the big Memorial Day races.
Today, a look at the 10 drivers who could contend for the victory at Charlotte.
• Matt Kenseth: The 48-year-old Wisconsin native scored his first Cup win as a rookie in this race, in 2000. It would be fitting if he won one of his final races — after spending more than one year out of the driver’s seat. Kyle Larson drove to victory lane for this team last year in the track’s All-Star Race.
• Alex Bowman: He has been one of the hottest drivers through the races contested so far this season. This is the type of track Bowman typically runs strong at, so he should contend for the win. Bowman won his first Xfinity race at Charlotte in 2017.
• Joey Logano: With two wins to his credit so far this season, Logano has been a driver to beat. He will contend on Sunday.
• Brad Keselowski: Logano’s Penske Racing teammate always steps up to the plate in the sport’s marquis races.
• Chase Elliott: He won on the track’s roval layout in the fall, and should contend on Sunday.
• Jimmie Johnson: A four-time winner in NASCAR’s longest race, it would be a perfect for Johnson to wrap up his career by winning his fifth 600-mile race in his final season of competition.
• Denny Hamlin: The Daytona 500 winner runs hot and cold. If he avoids problems — and copies the notes from two of his teammates — Hamlin could add another “crown jewel” race to his resume.
• Ryan Blaney: If he can avoid some of the bad luck which has plagued him this season when he’s been dominating races, Blaney could be tough to beat on Sunday.
• Kyle Busch: Busch finally checked Charlotte off of the list of tracks he had never won at by claiming a dominant win in this race in 2018. The only thing standing between Busch and victory lane on Sunday could be his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, and the bad luck which has plagued him through the early portion of the season.
• Martin Truex: The 2017 series champion claimed commanding wins in this race in 2016 and 2019. Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have won three of the last five Coca-Cola 600s. Truex is in a prime position to make Sunday a very long night for his competition, and to claim his third victory in NASCAR’s longest race. And the good news for Truex is that the series will be racing at Charlotte again on Wednesday night.