Is a 600-mile race still a tradition worth keeping in NASCAR?

Many NASCAR traditions have gone to the wayside over the years but should the annual 600-mile race in the Monster Energy Cup Series be the next on the hit list?

Is a 600-mile race still a tradition worth keeping in NASCAR?
 Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Toco Warranty and Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil
 Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Beer Millennial Car, Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta, Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express, Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry Bass P
 Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Discount Tire
 Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Ford Mustang BodyArmor Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry FedEx Express Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Advent Health Alex Bowman, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet Camaro Axalta Austin Dillon, Ric
 Clint Bowyer, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Toco Warranty, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil
 Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang Busch Beer Millennial Car, Joey Logano, Team Penske, Ford Mustang Shell Pennzoil

Among drivers there seems a consensus there is still a place in the Cup series for an endurance-style race such as the annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, although Denny Hamlin is not among them.

“The sport doesn’t ‘need’ any particular thing. I don’t think that anything is totally necessary,” Hamlin said. “If the race was 300 miles, you’re going to have the same, I believe, core group watch the race and possibly even more that are interested because it’s not five hours long.”

When asked what traditions he does like, Hamlin was incredulous.

“Tradition, ‘shmadition.’ It’s whatever. All sports adapt and change,” he said. “I hate it when people say, ‘Well, that’s the way it always was.’ Things are different. I’d be just as happy with a Coke 300 trophy as a Coke 600 to be honest with you.

“I’m for whatever, but I certainly know that from my friends, they choose to come All-Star week and not 600 week because it’s just too long and they don’t want to sit here for five hours.”

A test of man and machine

It’s certainly true the original intent of the 600-mile race was a billing of the ultimate test of man and machine in stock car racing.

Time and technology have made the tires, engines and the car virtually indestructible outside of freak accidents.

What’s left then is a more grueling test of the driver over 600 miles and the ability of a team’s pit crew to make repeated near-perfect pit stops.

“That’s the crazy thing is when all the different challenges come because of the length of that race, a lot of different things – attrition with your equipment, attrition with your team, communication, any kind of weak link in the chain and you’re out,” said Clint Bowyer, who won the pole for last weekend’s All-Star Race.

“That’s why I feel it’s important to have at least one of those long races. I’ve always said it. I’m all for a 24-hour race in our sport. I think it would be totally cool.”

Kevin Harvick has clearly been a driver open to many of NASCAR’s recent changes and is quite willing to challenge “how things have always been done.”

Still, he believes an annual 600-mile race is something NASCAR should continue to support.

“I think as you look at the Coke 600 and you look at the Daytona 500 and the Southern 500, anything past that I would probably say you need to shorten your race,” he said. “Honestly, it’s a crown jewel race. It’s close to home.  Everybody puts a lot of effort into it. 

“There’s a lot of things to prove and everybody wants to win at Charlotte and the 600 is one of those races that every driver and team in that garage are going to say that they want to win. There’s only three or four races that everybody in the garage is going to say those are three or four races we can agree on as being our crown jewel races.”

Kyle Busch agreed.

“Is it a tough race for the drivers? It is a tough race for the drivers. Is it as tough as it once was? Maybe not. Is it (tough) on the cars? No. The cars are way too sophisticated now,” he said. “I bet you we could probably go 800 maybe even 1000 miles on a race car before you’d start to see problems.

“Some other drivers would probably argue the fact with me that we don’t need a 600-mile race, but it’s tradition. I think you keep some of those that have been the longer ones that have meant more to our sport over the years like the Daytona 500, the Brickyard 400, the Coca-Cola 600, the Southern 500.

“Those probably could stay the length that they are and many of the others could probably change.”

shares
comments
Long-awaited eNASCAR Heat Pro League season begins this weekend

Previous article

Long-awaited eNASCAR Heat Pro League season begins this weekend

Next article

U.S. Motorsport Report: Dramatic weekend at Charlotte and Indy

U.S. Motorsport Report: Dramatic weekend at Charlotte and Indy
Load comments

About this article

Series NASCAR Cup
Event Charlotte
Author Jim Utter
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020