NSCS: Coca-Cola 600 preview— Charlotte Motor Speedway

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Information: 

Date: Sunday, May 27, 2012

Location: Charlotte Motor Speedway—Concord, NC

Time: 6:00 p.m. ET

Distance: 400 laps/ 600 miles

Broadcast: TV—FOX with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET

Radio: Performance Racing Network (PRN) or Sirius XM Channel 90

Notes and Analysis: 

Memorial Day weekend for many Americans means a three-day weekend and family cookouts. For race fans, it means a marathon day of racing starting in the principality of Monaco, then shifting to Speedway, IN for the Indianapolis 500 and ending with NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600.

A race that’s known as being on drivers as it is on equipment, the Coca-Cola 600 is a race that will not only test a driver’s physical toughness, but mental toughness as well. With temperatures for this weekend’s event being in the upwards of 90°,  the race could very well come down to a survival of the fittest.

Throughout the race’s 50-plus year history, the strength needed to win the 600 mile test has changed almost as much as the sport has in that time.

When the first Coca-Cola 600 was run, drivers and cars we lucky just to see the final 100 miles of the event, much less the checkered flag.

As the cars became faster, engines were being pushed to their very limits throughout the event. That meant teams had to work harder to find ways how to make their equipment not only withstand the 600 mile length, but also keep cool to deal with the hot and humid temperatures of the South.

Then came the addition of lights to the Charlotte Motor Speedway. That addition brought forth a challenge never seen before at a 1.5 mile track in NASCAR history.

For the first time, drivers and teams had to adapt to a day to night change in not only temperatures, but track conditions as well. That change made for teams to come with the complete package in order to win the longest race of the year.

And with needing the complete package to win, fuel mileage is an important part of that package.

A race that’s known for having stretches of long, green flag  runs, crew chiefs have to stay on top of fuel calculations as the race nears the closing stages.

Take the 2007 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 for an example on how fuel mileage can make or break your race.

In the late stages of the race, it became an economy run to the checkered flag. As the laps wound down, seemingly all the leaders had to come to pit road to get an extra splash of fuel to make it to the end.

As they all pitted, Casey Mears assumed the race lead and held on to win; his first victory of his career.

So when it comes to the “600″, everything needs to be in place. That holds true for any race, but it’s the deciding factor in NASCAR’s longest night.

By the Numbers: 

  • 22- The most cautions in Coca-Cola 600 and Charlotte Motor Speedway history.
  • 13- There have been 13 times that their has only been one car on the lead lap at the finish. Most recently in 1987.
  • 6- Bobby Allison, Darrell Waltrip, and Jimmie Johnson’s CMS record for all-time wins at the track.
  • 14- David Pearson was the master of CMS qualifying back in his day, amassing 14 poles in his time.
  • 20th- The starting position of inaugural ”600″ winner, John Lee Johnson in 1960.
  • 16- Rick Hendrick has the most wins of any car owner at CMS.

Fantasy Racing: 

“A” Drivers: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch

“B” Drivers: Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray

“C” Drivers: Casey Mears, Trevor Bayne

Entry List for the Coca-Cola 600 

  • #1 Jamie McMurray ( Bass Pro Shops)
  • #2 Brad Keselowski (Miller Lite)
  • #5 Kasey Kahne (Quaker State)
  • #9 Marcos Ambrose (DeWalt)
  • #10 Danica Patrick (GoDaddy.com)
  • #11 Denny Hamlin (FedEx Ground)
  • #13 Casey Mears (GEICO)
  • #14 Tony Stewart (Office Depot/ Mobil One)
  • #15 Clint Bowyer (5-Hour Energy)
  • #16 Greg Biffle (Fastenal)
  • #17 Matt Kenseth (Fastenal)
  • #18 Kyle Busch (M&M’s Red-White-Blue)
  • #19 Mike Bliss (Humphrey Smith Racing LLC)
  • #20 Joey Logano (Dollar General)
  • #21 Trevor Bayne (Motorcraft/ Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center)
  • #22 A.J. Allmendinger (Shell Pennzoil)
  • #23 Scott Riggs (North Texas Pipe)
  • #24 Jeff Gordon (Drive To End Hunger)
  • #26 Josh Wise (MDS Transport)
  • #27 Paul Menard (Menard’s-Serta)
  • #29 Kevin Harvick (Budweiser-Folds of Honor)
  • #30 David Stremme (Inception Motorsports)
  • #31 Jeff Burton (Wheaties)
  • #32 T.J. Bell (Green Smoke)
  • #33 Stephen Leicht (Little Joe’s Auto)
  • #34 David Ragan (Al’s Liners-Scorpion Coating)
  • #36 Dave Blaney (SealWrap)
  • #38 David Gilliland (ModSpace)
  • #39 Ryan Newman (US Army)
  • #42 Juan Pablo Montoya (Target)
  • #43 Aric Almirola (US Air Force)
  • #47 Bobby Labonte (Kingsford Charcoal)
  • #48 Jimmie Johnson (Lowe’s Patriotic)
  • #49 J.J. Yeley (JPO Absorbents)
  • #51 Kurt Busch (Phoenix Construction Services)
  • #55Mark Martin (Aaron’s Armed Forces Foundation)
  • #56 Martin Truex Jr. (NAPA)
  • #73 David Reutimann (Burger King)
  • #74 Cole Whitt (Turn One Racing)
  • #78 Regan Smith (Furniture Row)
  • #83 Landon Cassill (Burger King)
  • #87 Joe Nemechek (AM/FM Energy & Wood Pellet Stoves)
  • #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (National Guard-An American Salute)
  • #93 Travis Kvapil (Burger King-Dr. Pepper)
  • #95 Scott Speed (Jordan Truck Sales)
  • #98 Michael McDowell (Presbyterian Health Care)
  • #99 Carl Edwards (Fastenal)

 

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