Here’s all you need to know about the Coca-Cola 600 and Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 is the longest and most grueling race on the Sprint Cup – 400 laps, 600 miles in total.

Providing there’s no race-extending Green-White-Checker finish, of course.

Because the race is so long, sometimes fans can use a slight diversion – like reading all about the history of the race, some of its top statistics, and so forth.

Thanks to the great figure-filberts in NASCAR’s and Charlotte Motor Speedway’s PR and Statistics departments, here’s everything you need to know about the Coca-Cola 600 and CMS:

COCA-COLA 600 at CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

Track Specifications:
–Superspeedway: 1.5-mile quad oval
–Race Length: 400 laps, 600 miles
–Track Length: 1.5 miles or 7,920 feet
–Banking: turns: 24 degrees; straights: 5 degrees
–Straights: Frontstretch – 1980 feet; Backstretch – 1500 feet
–Turns: Turns 1 & 2: 2,400 feet; Turns 3 & 4: 2,040 feet
–Radius Turns 1 & 2: 685 feet
–Radius Turns 3 & 4: 625 feet
–Grandstand Seating: 89,000 (down from 134,000)
–Suites: 113
–Pit Road Speed: 45mph
–Pace Car Speed: 55mph
–Opened: 1960
–Last Repave: March 2006

Race Festivities/Officials:
–Grand Marshal: Dawn Seif, wife of fallen Marine SSgt. Andrew Seif; USO CEO & President J.D. Crouch II
–Command to start engines: Dawn Seif
–Honorary Starter/Wave Green Flag: West Virginia Senate President/Lieutenant Governor Bill Cole
–Honorary Pace Car Driver:Carolina Panthers LB Thomas Davis
–Honorary Pace Director: North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest
–Color Guard: TBA
–Invocation: TBA
–National Anthem: 82nd Airborne Chorus
–Flyover: TBA

PURSE:

2015: TBA
2014: $6,659,323
2013: $6,611,706
2012: $6,544,088
2011: $6,412,212
2010: $6,474,775
2009: $6,696,340
2008: $6,648,557
2007: $6,569,628
2006: $6,452,431
2005: $6,279,649
2004: $6,201,379
2003: $5,396,853

Track Websites & Social Media:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Speedway Motorsports
Facebook – Charlotte Motor Speedway
Twitter – @CLTMotorSpdwy
YouTube – CLTMotorSpdwy
U.S. Legend Cars
Cabarrus County Destination Guide
Track Stats – Racing-reference.info

RECORDS/STATISTICS:
–2014 May Race Winner: #48-Jimmie Johnson, 145.484mph, started 1st
–2014 October Race Winner: #4-Kevin Harvick, 145.346mph, started 7th
Track Race Record 500 miles: Jeff Gordon, Oct 1999, 160.306mph
Track Race Record 600 miles: Kasey Kahne, May 2012, 155.687mph
Slowest Race Record: Junior Johnson, 107.752mph, 1960
Worst Starting Spot to Win: Jimmie Johnson, May 2003, started 37th
Oldest Winner: Cale Yarborough, 46 years, 6 months, 9 days, 10/6/1985
Youngest Winner: Jeff Gordon, 22 years, 9 months, 25 days, 5/29/1994
2014 May Pole Winner: #48-Jimmy Johnson, 194.911mph, finished 1st
2014 October Pole Winner: #18-Kyle Busch, 197.390mph, finished 5th
Track Qualifying Record: Kurt Busch, Oct 2014, 198.771mph, set in 2nd round of qualifying
Coke 600 Qualifying Record: Denny Hamlin, May 2013, 195.624mph
500 mile Qualifying Record: Jeff Gordon, Oct 2013, 194.308mph
Youngest Pole Winner: Jeff Gordon, 22 years, 2 months, 6 days, 10/10/1993
Oldest Pole Winner: Bobby Allison, 49 years, 10 months, 8 days, 10/11/1987

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte
–#48-Jimmie Johnson 111.6
–#18-Kyle Busch 106.7
–#5-Kasey Kahne 100.8
–#20-Matt Kenseth 95.5
–#11-Denny Hamlin 92.8
–#24-Jeff Gordon 91.6
–#19-Carl Edwards 89.6
–#16-Greg Biffle 88.7
–#22-Joey Logano 88.4
–#2-Brad Keselowski 86.5

Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2014 races (19 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Formula combining the following categories: Win, Finish, Top-15 Finish, Average Running Position while on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.

See an explanation how the Driver Rating is calculated at NASCAR.com.

Winners of the Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race in same season:
1985-Darrell Waltrip
1991-Davey Allison
1993-Dale Earnhardt
1997-Jeff Gordon
2003-Jimmie Johnson
2008-Kasey Kahne
2010-Kurt Busch

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes & Facts – history:
–Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959.
–The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson.
–The track was repaved midseason in 1994.
–The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999.
–It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season.
–The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes & Facts – drivers:
–527 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway; 378 in more than one. 441 drivers have competed in the Coca-Cola 600; 287 in more than one.
–NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 44 starts; followed by Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart with 31. Richard Petty and Bill Elliott have made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 22.
–45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, led by Jimmie Johnson with seven wins including four Coca-Cola 600 wins – 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2014.
–30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers with four; followed by teammates Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne with three each.
–Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including three consecutive by NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (2004 and 2005 sweeps).
–A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007.
–Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
–Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three.
–Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers in runner-up finishes in the Coca-Cola 600 with two.
–NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 17. Richard Petty leads the series in top fives in the Coca-Cola 600 with 12; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with seven.
–Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 24. Darrell Waltrip, Ricky Rudd and David Pearson lead the series in top 10s in the Coca-Cola 600 with 15 each; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 12.
–Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.000. Carl Edwards leads all active drivers in average finish in the Coca-Cola 600 with a 9.000.
–Dale Earnhardt Jr. leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 30; followed by Ryan Newman with 28.
–Seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5/29/11) and Kyle Larson (10/12/13).
–Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07).
–Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,733 laps led in 27 starts.
–Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes & Facts – race:
–There have been 112 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65).
–Hendrick Motorsports has the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 18: Jimmie Johnson (seven), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one).
–Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 43 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 23.
–There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402).
–Five of the 112 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009).
–Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notes & Facts – poles:
–Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph.
–42 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine.
–David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five.
–12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978.
–Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998.
–Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12).
–15 of the 112 (13.3 percent) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the most recent was Jimmie Johnson in 2014 (Coca-Cola 600).
–The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
–32 of the 112 (28.5 percent) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 15 from the pole and 17 from second-place.
–85 of the 112 (75.8 percent) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position.
–Nine of the 112 (8.0 percent) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
–The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte is 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003.
–Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.630.
–Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008.

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Kyle Busch to run five Truck races for KBM in 2023

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Kyle Busch Motorsports announced Wednesday the five Craftsman Truck Series team owner Kyle Busch will race this season.

Busch’s Truck races will be:

March 3 at Las Vegas

March 25 at Circuit of the Americas

April 14 at Martinsville

May 6 at Kansas

July 22 at Pocono

Busch is the winningest Truck Series driver with 62 career victories. He has won at least one series race in each of the last 10 seasons. He has won 37.6% of the Truck races he’s entered and placed either first or second in 56.7% of his 165 career series starts.

Zariz Transport, which specializes in transporting containers from ports, signed a multi-year deal to be the primary sponsor on Busch’s No. 51 truck for all of his series races, starting this season. The company will be an associate sponsor on the truck in the remaining 18 series races.

Myatt Snider to run six Xfinity races with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Myatt Snider is the latest driver to be announced as running a select number of Xfinity races in the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Snider will run six races with the team. Ryan Truex (six races), Joe Graf Jr. (five) and Connor Mosack (three) also will be in JGR’s No. 19 Xfinity car this year.

Snider’s first race with the team will be the Feb. 18 season opener at Daytona. He also will race at Portland (June 3), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7), Las Vegas (Oct. 14), Martinsville (Oct. 28) and the season finale at Phoenix (Nov. 4).

The deal returns Snider to JGR. He worked in various departments there from 2011-15.

“We’re looking forward to have Myatt on our No. 19 team for six races,” said Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of Xfinity and development. “Building out the driver lineup for this car is an opportunity for JGR to help drivers continue to develop in their racing career, and we’re looking forward to seeing how Myatt continues to grow.”

Said Snider in a statement from the team: “With six races on our 2023 schedule, I’m looking forward to climbing into the No. 19 TreeTop Toyota GR Supra with Joe Gibbs Racing this year. Having worked with JGR as a high schooler and a young racer, it’s an awesome full circle moment to return as a driver to the team that taught me so much about racing itself.

“It’s good to be reunited with (crew chief) Jason Ratcliff as we have an awesome history working together. With many memories and wins from 2013 and 2014 when I worked on the No. 20 Toyota Camry under Jason’s leadership, the team has always been more of a family relationship to me. I’m glad to be returning to the JGR family and looking forward to continuing to learn and grow as a driver.”

Daytona will be Snider’s 100th career Xfinity start. He has one series win and 21 top 10s. He was the rookie of the year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2018.

Tree Top will be Snider’s sponsor for his six races with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Also in the Xfinity Series, Gray Gaulding, who will run full season with SS Green Light Racing, announced that he’ll have sponsor Panini America for multiple races, including the Daytona opener. Emerling-Gase Motorsports announced that Natalie Decker will run a part-time schedule in both the ARCA Menards Series and Xfinity Series for the team.

 

Travis Pastrana ‘taking a chance’ at Daytona

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In so-called “action” sports, Travis Pastrana is a king. He is well-known across the spectrum of motorsports that are a bit on the edge — the X Games, Gymkhana, motorcross and rally racing.

Now he’s jumping in the deep end, attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 and what would be his first NASCAR Cup Series start.

Pastrana, who is entered in the 500 in a third Toyota fielded by 23XI Racing, will be one of at least six drivers vying for the four non-charter starting spots in the race. Also on that list: Jimmie Johnson, Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill.

MORE: IndyCar driver Conor Daly entered in Daytona 500

Clearly, just getting a spot on the 500 starting grid won’t be easy.

“I love a challenge,” Pastrana told NBC Sports. “I’ve wanted to be a part of the Great American Race since I started watching it on TV as a kid. Most drivers and athletes, when they get to the top of a sport, don’t take a chance to try something else. I like to push myself. If I feel I’m the favorite in something, I lose a little interest and focus. Yes, I’m in way over my head, but I believe I can do it safely. At the end of the day, my most fun time is when I’m battling and battling with the best.”

Although Pastrana, 39, hasn’t raced in the Cup Series, he’s not a stranger to NASCAR. He has run 42 Xfinity races, driving the full series for Roush Fenway Racing in 2013 (winning a pole and scoring four top-10 finishes), and five Craftsman Truck races.

“All those are awesome memories,” Pastrana said. “In my first race at Richmond (in 2012), Denny Hamlin really helped me out. I pulled on the track in practice, and he waited for me to get up to speed. He basically ruined his practice helping me get up to speed. Joey Logano jumped in my car at New Hampshire and did a couple of laps and changed the car, and I went from 28th to 13th the next lap. I had so many people who really reached out and helped me get the experience I needed.”

Pastrana was fast, but he had issues adapting to the NASCAR experience and the rhythm of races.

“It was extremely difficult for me not growing up in NASCAR,” he said. “I come from motocross, where there’s a shorter duration. It’s everything or nothing. You make time by taking chances. In pavement racing, it’s about rear-wheel drive. You can’t carry your car. In NASCAR it’s not about taking chances. It’s about homework. It’s about team. It’s about understanding where you can go fast and be spot on your mark for three hours straight.”

MORE: Will Clash issues carry over into rest of season?

Pastrana said he didn’t venture into NASCAR with the idea of transferring his skills to stock car racing full time.

“It was all about me trying to get to the Daytona 500,” he said. “Then I looked around, when I was in the K&N Series, and saw kids like Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. They were teenagers, and they already were as good or better than me.”

Now he hopes to be in the mix with Elliott, Larson and the rest of the field when the green flag falls on the 500.

He will get in some bonus laps driving for Niece Motorsports in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona.

“For the first time, my main goal, other than qualifying for the 500, isn’t about winning,” Pastrana said. “We’ll take a win, of course, but my main goal is to finish on the lead lap and not cause any issues. I know we’ll have a strong car from 23XI, so the only way I can mess this up is to be the cause of a crash.

“I’d just love to go out and be a part of the Great American Race.”

 

Front Row Motorsports adds more Cup races to Zane Smith’s schedule

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Reigning Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith, who seeks to qualify for the Daytona 500, will do six additional Cup races for Front Row Motorsports this season, the team announced Tuesday. Centene Corporation’s brands will sponsor Smith.

The 23-year-old Smith will drive the No. 36 car in his attempt to make the Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. That car does not have a charter. Chris Lawson will be the crew chief. 

Smith’s remaining six Cup races will be in the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports, which has a charter. Todd Gilliland will drive the remaining 30 points races and All-Star Open in that car. Ryan Bergenty will be the crew chief for both drivers this year.

Smith’s races in the No. 38 car will be Phoenix (March 12), Talladega (April 23), Coca-Cola 600 (May 28), Sonoma (June 11), Texas (Sept. 24) and the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8). 

He also will run the full Truck season. 

Centene’s Wellcare, which offers a range of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will be Smith’s sponsor for the Daytona 500, Phoenix, Talladega and Sonoma. Centene’s Ambetter, a provider of health insurance offerings on the Health Insurance Marketplace, will be Smith’s sponsor at Texas and the Charlotte Roval. 

Smith’s sponsor for the Coca-Cola 600 will be Boot Barn. 

The mix of tracks is something Smith said he is looking forward to this season.

“I wanted to run Phoenix just because the trucks only go to Phoenix once and it’s the biggest race of the year,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I wanted to get as much time and laps as I can at Phoenix even though it’s in a completely different car. I wanted to run road courses, as well, just because I felt road course racing suits me.”

Smith also will be back in the Truck Series. Ambetter Health will be the primary sponsor of Smith’s Truck at Homestead (Oct. 21). The partnership with Centene includes full season associate sponsorship of Smith’s Truck and full season associate sponsorship on the No. 38 Cup car. 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150
Zane Smith holding the Truck series championship trophy last year at Phoenix. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Smith’s connection to Centene Corporation, a St. Louis-based company, goes back to last June’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. Smith made his Cup debut that weekend, filling in for Chris Buescher, who was out with COVID-19. Smith finished 17th.

“It’s cool to see how into the sport they are,” Smith said of Centene Corporation. “It started out with an appearance I did for them (at World Wide Technology Raceway). I’ve gotten to know that group pretty well.”

Centene also is the healthcare partner of Speedway Motorsports and sponsors a Cup race at Atlanta and Xfinity race at New Hampshire. 

Smith’s opportunity to run select Cup races, including major events as the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600, is part of the fast trajectory he’s made.

In 2019, he made only 10 Xfinity starts with JR Motorsports and didn’t start racing full-time in NASCAR until the 2020 season. Since then, he’s won a Truck title, finished second two other times and scored seven Truck victories.

“I feel like I’ve lived about probably three lifetimes in these four years just with getting that part-time Xfinity schedule and running well and getting my name out there,” Smith said.

He was provided an extra Xfinity race at Phoenix in 2019 with JRM and that proved significant to his future.

“That happened to be probably one of my best runs,” he said of his fifth-place finish that day. “We ran top four, top five all day and (team owner) Maury Gallagher happened to be there. He watched that.”

He signed with Gallagher’s GMS Racing Truck truck.

“It was supposed to be a part-time Truck schedule and (then) I won at Michigan and it was like, ‘Oh man, we’re in the playoffs, we should probably be full-time racing.’ I won another one a couple of weeks later at Dover.”

His success led to second season with the team and he again finished second in the championship. That led to the drive to a title last year.

The championship trophy sits in his home office and serves as motivation every day.

“First thing you see is when you come through my front door is pretty much the trophy,” Smith said. “It drives me crazy now thinking I could have two more to go with it and how close I was. … Really just that much more hungrier to go capture more.”