Along with being the only 600-mile event on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar, the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the only race that features four stages. Unlike most races, which include three stages of varying lengths, the 600 is broken down into four equal stages of 100 laps. Talk about the ultimate test of man and machine. And longevity, endurance and strength.
While Charlotte might not be the most physically-demanding track on the Cup schedule, this is arguably the most physically demanding race on the schedule simply by virtue of how long drivers are strapped in a hot race car — usually well north of four hours and sometimes as long as five hours and change. While the conditions do cool down a bit as the sun goes down and day turns into night, it’s still late May in the South, which means one crazy-humid outing for not only the drivers but also their pit crews and even the people watching in the stands.
“Having a clean race is challenging, and making no mistakes,” 2017 Coca-Cola 600 winner Austin Dillon said last weekend. “You’re just in the car for a long period of time. It’s hot. You come down pit road a lot, and there’s just a lot of moments for error — more than what we’re used to. My goal going into that race is to have a clean race and find myself in a great position toward the end. Obviously, if you have the speed to win it, that’s even better.”