Sunday Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte: Start time, TV info, weather


The NASCAR Cup Series’ longest race also marks the beginning of the second half of the regular season. Through 13 races, Ross Chastain leads the points and William Byron is the victory leader with three.

Kyle Larson, winner of last week’s All-Star Race, has led the most laps (378) over the past five Charlotte races. Alex Bowman, No. 2 on that list with 228 laps led, is scheduled to return to competition Sunday after recovering from an injury.

Former series champion Jimmie Johnson is scheduled to make his third start of the season.

Details for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by USO regional president Lisa Marie Riggins and former drivers Jeff Burton, Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte and Kyle Petty at 6:10 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 6:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 3 p.m. … Drivers meeting is at 5:10 p.m. … Driver intros are at 5:25 p.m. … 82nd Airborne Division Captain Stephen Townsend will give the invocation at 6 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by Lance Corporal Elizabeth Marino of the 2nd Aircraft Marine Corps Band at 6:03 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 400 laps (600 miles) on the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 100. Stage 2 ends at Lap 200. Stage 3 ends at Lap 300.

STARTING LINEUP: William Byron is on the pole after qualifying was rained out.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 6 p.m. … Coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 5 p.m. and also will stream at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — Rain. High of 61 degrees with an 87% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Denny Hamlin won last year’s 600. The race stretched into two overtimes and at 619.5 miles was the longest race in Cup history.


Friday 5: How soon before trading pit crew members occurs in NASCAR?

Dr. Diandra: Driver injuries, penalties obscure Hendrick Motorsports’ excellence

The night the lights went on in Charlotte

NASCAR allows teams to make safety modifications 

Drivers to watch at Charlotte Motor Speedway

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Larson moves to No. 1

Saturday Charlotte Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather


The Xfinity Series is scheduled to race for only the second time in May with a 300-mile race Saturday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Cup Series driver Kyle Larson won the May 13 Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway. Cup regulars Kyle Busch and Ty Gibbs are scheduled to compete in Saturday’s race.

A look at the Saturday Xfinity schedule:

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Charlotte Motor Speedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 12:08 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved at 12:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 9 a.m. … Driver introductions begin at 11:40 a.m. … The invocation will be given by U.S. Air Force retired master sergeant Monty Self at 12 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by recording artist Cash Crawford at 12:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) on the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 45. Stage 2 ends at Lap 90.

STARTING LINEUP: Charlotte Xfinity starting lineup

TV/RADIO: FS1 will broadcast the race at 1 p.m.. ... NASCAR RaceDay airs at 12:30 p.m. on FS1. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. and can be heard on … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground — The forecast calls for a high of 57 degrees and an 73% chance of rain at start of Xfinity race.

LAST TIME: Josh Berry won last May’s Xfinity race. Ty Gibbs was second and Sam Mayer third.

Friday 5: How soon before trading pit crew members occurs in NASCAR?


Trading pit crew members? A formalized free agency period for tire changers, tire carriers, jackmen and fuelers? Sponsor agreements for pit crew members similar to what college athletes receive with NIL deals?

They are ideas — some radical for NASCAR — that Brian Haaland, a pit crew coach for Joe Gibbs Racing, advocates.

“I think there are so many things we can do to change the game,” Haaland told NBC Sports. “Everybody’s got contracts, and you have option years on them. I think there should be a free agency. Really. How cool would that be?

“I think there should be trades. Why not? … Why not allow me to negotiate with whatever organization if they have somebody that I want, and I’m willing to give them one of our guys — or at least talk about a trade. How fun would that be? It would another fun game within the sport.”

While other professional team sports have trades, NASCAR does not. But what if it did? Haaland said he’s proposed a trade to another team but nothing happened.

“Absolutely, I’ve tried to do it, but that’s between pit coach to pit coach,” he said. “We could work it out. It just has to be, obviously, people that are above me and above other pit coaches to sign off on it, but it could absolutely happen.

“It could happen tomorrow. If we agreed to release somebody and (another team) agreed to release somebody, and we just took their guy. It could happen.”

Imagine a trade deadline during the Cup season similar to what happens in the NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball and NHL.

Put NASCAR’s trade deadline in June, possibly around a weekend off. By that time, teams would have had more than half the regular season to assess their crew members. A trade at that point of the season also would give crew members who are moved a chance to acclimate to their new surroundings before the playoffs.

With track position critical, what happens on pit road can make the difference between a good or bad race for each team.

Lose positions on pit road and a driver will restart deeper in the field. That makes it more difficult to reach the front and increases the likelihood of being collected in an incident.

That’s why pit road has become so important. Yet, there are limited ways of gaining time. Pit guns are standardized. Joe Gibbs Racing abandoned its pit stop choreography, which was faster than the traditional way but slower when there were missteps. That leaves only pit crews as a way to have faster stops.

So teams seek college athletes to join their pit crews. They want people with athletic skills to service a car and the mindset to handle the pressure.

With the focus on pit crews, maybe a trade could prove beneficial to all involved. Haaland said he thinks trading pit crew members could be possible because “everybody kind of knows and understands each other’s needs.

“Especially in an injury case. We will reach out to (other pit crew coaches) and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this guy that could help you … and we could loan them to you.’ (Or) it might be a guy that just isn’t working out for us, and we could release them, things like that have happened.

“There’s been other times where I’m like, ‘Really could use one of their top guys,’ and offer up three guys, half-joking, but just to kind of throw it out there to see if anybody will bite on it.”

They haven’t. Yet.

As for free agency, it does take place after the end of the season in November when contracts end and pit crew members are free to change teams. Should NASCAR’s season end earlier — perhaps October — that would mean more time without cars on track. A free agency period for pit crew members could provide something for fans.

Just as key could be any other financial benefits for pit crew members. The NIL deals some college athletes receive are changing how they view their athletic options.

Haaland saw it when he talked to members of the Ohio State hockey team about a career as a NASCAR pit crew member.

“I started talking about, ‘Hey, there could be an opportunity after you’re done playing here’ and … I threw out some numbers about what they could make and they all just kind of looked at me,” he said. “Then I realized that (with) the NIL (deals), they’re probably making more than that now.”

Deals with pit crews are likely a few years away. The focus for teams is a new economic model so teams are not as reliant on sponsorship to survive. Also key will be the new media rights deal, which will begin in 2025 and is expected to provide teams with more money.

As for the notion of trading pit crew members, it is an intriguing idea to some teams but many questions remain before it happens. Maybe one day Haaland will be able to make a trade or see the concept of a formalized free agency period take place in the sport.

2. Can Fords turn it around?

The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marks the third race on a 1.5-mile track this season without the speedway package used at Atlanta — site of Ford’s only win this year with Joey Logano.

In the previous two races on 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas and Kansas), no Ford finished no better than sixth. Austin Cindric was sixth at Las Vegas. Logano was sixth at Kansas.

Fords led 14 of 271 laps (5.1%) at Las Vegas and led nine of 267 laps (3.4%) at Kansas.

Add Fontana, California, (2-mile speedway) and Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile speedway) and Ford’s struggles remain evident.

Ford’s top car at Fontana was Kevin Harvick, who finished fifth. Fords lead 48 of 200 laps (24%) there.

Harvick led Ford with a runner-up finish at Darlington, but that came after incidents eliminated some of the leaders in the final laps. Ford placed three cars in the top six at Darlington: Harvick in second, Brad Keselowski in fourth and Harrison Burton in sixth. Fords, though, led nine of 295 laps (3.1%) in that race.

Harvick enters Sunday’s race at Charlotte third in the standings, 29 points behind series leader Ross Chastain. Harvick has four consecutive top 10s in the Coca-Cola 600, including a third-place finish in last year’s race.

Asked last weekend at North Wilkesboro about his chances of winning the regular season, Harvick said:

“I think for us our cars, I speak of the 4 team, our cars have run competitively and we’ve been in position and just haven’t knocked that door down yet,” he said. “But it’s like I keep telling them, ‘You keep knocking on that door and eventually somebody is gonna answer it.’

“We just have to keep dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s because that’s just where we are from an aerodynamic standpoint and everything that goes with our car currently.

“We just have to be able to do everything right. The cars have to be closer to perfect than the other two models currently, so we just have to keep doing the things that we’re doing.”

3. Goodyear makes changes to tires

Goodyear plans to use a new tire that is intended to wear more at New Hampshire in July. The tire was tested in late April with Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Christopher Bell.

Goodyear is moving in this direction after gaining experience with the Next Gen car, which runs its 50th Cup points race Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Our goal has been to provide as much grip as we think possible for individual racetracks and then let the teams and let the drivers manage that,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Sometimes we’re more conservative, sometimes we’re not.

“Now that we have a year and a half under our belt with this vehicle, with the Next Gen car, I think we have figured out that we can probably go further than maybe what we were able to do with the previous generation parts.”

That falls in line with what Denny Hamlin said after running the wet weather tires in a heat race last weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway and noting how they wore.

“I’m just more encouraged that Goodyear can build a tire that is really fast to start and falls off,” he said. “We got the blueprint. We really should spend some time working on this for other short tracks.”

Said Stucker about Hamlin’s comments: “I think Denny is spot on.”

Stucker said the goal of the New Hampshire tire test was to get the tires to wear more.

“We’re going significantly softer on both sides,” Stucker said of the tires that will be used at New Hampshire. “All the drivers at the test felt like it was a big gain, felt like it was definitely in the right direction. So, that’s what we’re going to race. Is it enough? We’ll see. I think it’s a good step, and then we’ll continue to build on that.”

The New Hampshire tire also typically is run at Richmond and Phoenix, the site of the championship race, but Stucker said that might not be the case this year.

“We just felt like (New Hampshire) can require something softer,” he said.

4. Gaining ground

Chase Elliott ranks fourth in Cup in points earned in the last five races — since his return from a leg injury suffered snowboarding.

Here’s a look at the top point scorers in Cup in the last five points races:

William Byron — 194 points

Denny Hamlin — 190

Ryan Blaney — 170

Chase Elliott — 163

Ross Chastain — 161

Martin Truex Jr. — 153

When Elliott made his return, he was 33rd in the season standings, 134 points out of what would be the final transfer spot to the playoffs. He’s climbed to 28th in the standings and is 63 points behind the final transfer spot to the playoffs with 13 races left in the regular season.

5. One year away

Kyle Larson will be preparing to run the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 at this time next year.

“It’s still so far away that it truly doesn’t seem real, I think, until I get in the car, on the ground and fire an engine up and then I think I’ll be scared,” he said with a smile. “Right now it doesn’t seem super real, but I’ve been trying to pay attention as much as possible.”

Larson spent a day earlier this month at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Arrow McLaren team that he’ll drive for next year. He has yet to test an IndyCar but has been fitted for a seat this month.

Next year will mark 10 years since the last driver ran in both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day. Kurt Busch finished sixth at Indy to earn rookie of the year honors. A blown engine at Charlotte that night left him with a 40th-place result.

Dr. Diandra: Driver injuries, penalties obscure Hendrick Motorsports’ excellence


Hendrick Motorsports’ excellence doesn’t leap out from the Cup Series championship standings. William Byron is fifth and Kyle Larson ninth. Alex Bowman, who missed three races with a fractured vertebra, ranks 17th. Chase Elliott (out six races while healing a broken leg) is back in 28th place.

In addition to losing two drivers for multiple races, Hendrick fought a contentious battle over hood louvers it claimed didn’t meet specifications. The modifications initially incurred 100-point/10-playoff-point penalties for all four teams. An appeal reduced those penalties to monetary fines and crew chief suspensions.

Then, at Richmond, Byron and Bowman were each assessed 60-point/five-playoff-point penalties for violations involving their cars’ greenhouses.

Despite being far enough back in the standings that only winning will get him into the playoffs, Elliott has more points than five full-time drivers. Bowman ranks ahead of 15 drivers who have each run three more races than he has.

Without that 60-point penalty, Byron would be leading the standings, 18 points ahead of Ross Chastain.

The points don’t reflect how good Hendrick Motorsports is in 2023 — but the statistics do.

Manufacturer and team domination

Manufacturer advantage changes over time, as the graph below shows. Chevy has rebounded from its 2018 low point, where it won only four races all year. With eight wins in the first 13 races of 2023, Chevy has already beat its season totals from 2018 and ’19.

A stacked verticle bar chart emphasizing Chevy (and Hendrick Motorsports' excellence over the years

Chevy’s excellence translates to Hendrick Motorsports’ excellence. HMS earned five of those eight race wins.

That’s not unusual: Hendrick did the same last year. But this year the team did it with nine fewer chances. That’s not to discount Josh Berry‘s solid subbing for Elliott and then Bowman. But no one expects a first-year driver (with a full-time Xfinity job) to match Cup Series veterans’ numbers.

Byron’s three wins are the most of any driver in the series. Larson joins Kyle Busch as the only other drivers with more than one win in 2023.

Byron also leads the series in top-five finishes with six. Larson, Chastain and Christopher Bell each have five top-five finishes. Byron is tied with Ryan Blaney for second in top-10 results with seven. Christopher Bell leads the top-10 category with eight.

Because two drivers have missed races, performance rates create a clearer picture than straight numbers. The table below summarizes HMS driver performance.

A table showing Hendrick Motorsports' finishines for 2023

I included Josh Berry’s numbers. No one expects a first-year driver (with a full-time Xfinity job) to match Cup Series veterans’ numbers, but he’s been quite a solid substitute driver.

As I pointed out previously, Larson’s numbers are low this year because he hasn’t finished almost a third of the races. The most DNFs Larson ever had in one season is eight, which happened in 2019. With 23 races left, Larson already has half that number. He has been the victim of incidents triggered by Chastain multiple times this season, leading to car owner Rick Hendrick voicing his displeasure about Chastain’s driving after the Darlington race earlier this month.

Another sign of Larson’s season is that he has only one more top-10 finish than Elliott despite running six more races than Elliott.

Running Stats

In distinction to finishes, statistics like running position and average green-flag speed rank show how a driver runs as opposed to just how they finish. These are the numbers that really highlight HMS’s potential.

A table showing Hendrick Motorsports' excellence via their loop data stats

I included average finish for comparing with average running position. For example, the difference between Larson’s average finish versus his average running position shows the impact of his DNFs.

The last three columns compare how each driver ranks, on average, in green-flag speed, speed early in a run and speed late in a run.

While Berry’s numbers are lower than his four colleagues, they’re not much lower.

The table below shows the same data but ranks each driver against all other drivers who have run at least three races.

A table showing how Hendrick Motorsports ranks in various loop data statisticsHendrick Motorsports drivers hold the No. 1 rank in each of the first four metrics shown and the No. 2 rank in three out of the four. The highest rank in speed late in run is third, but their success despite that shows the importance of running in clean air. If you build a lead at the start of a run, you don’t have to be the fastest at the end — as Larson showed at the All-Star Race.

It’s a shame for the Hendrick drivers — and especially Alex Bowman, who was on track to have a statistically strong year — that their chances at a season championship may be impaired by missed races and unfulfilled potential. But it’s a good reminder for fans that season rankings rarely tell the whole story.

NASCAR allows teams to make safety modifications

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NASCAR teams may employ safety modifications to the their cars starting this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The modifications are a result of NASCAR’s investigation into the damage to Kyle Larson‘s car after it was hit by Ryan Preece‘s car in last month’s Talladega race. The severe impact moved the right side door bars on Larson’s car.

NASCAR is allowing teams to add six right side door bar gussets to prevent the door bars from buckling in such an impact. NASCAR is providing the gussets to teams at no charge.

NASCAR states that the front clip V-brace must be removed from the assembly.

Teams were provided this information in a May 12 memo from NASCAR. The memo stated that additional chassis updates are under consideration. NASCAR is conducting two days or crash testing Wednesday and Thursday at a facility in Ohio.

Here is a look at where the gussets will be located on the right side door bar:

A look at the locations of gussets teams can place in the right side door bars. (Photo: NASCAR)