Coca-Cola 600

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Coca-Cola 600
2012 Coca-Cola 600 logo.png
Venue Charlotte Motor Speedway
Sponsor Coca-Cola
First race 1959
Distance 600 miles (965.606 km)
Laps 400
Previous names World 600 (1960–1984)
Coca-Cola World 600 (1985)
Coca-Cola 600 (1986–2001, 2003–present)
Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 (2002)

The Coca-Cola 600 is an annual 600-mile (965.606 km) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points race held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina during Memorial Day weekend. The event, when first held in 1960, became the first race to be held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Run since 1960, it is the longest race on NASCAR's schedule at 600 miles (956.606 km).[1] It is also unique for the fact that the race changes drastically from start to finish. It starts around 6:20 PM in the afternoon in full sunlight, and the track is bathed in sunlight for the first third of the race. The second third happens at dusk, and the race is running under the lights by the end.

Race origins[edit]

In the spring of 1959, Curtis Turner returned to Charlotte, North Carolina after viewing Bill France, Sr.'s Daytona International Speedway and had an idea of building a race track in the surrounding area. Turner thought he could borrow enough money to build a $750,000 track with 45,000 permanent seats on his property in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Afterward, he learned that a group led by Bruton Smith had a similar idea to build a track near Pineville.[2]

Smith and Turner formed an alliance to build the track, and they signed a contract with NASCAR to run a 600-mile event on Memorial Day. Once the construction crew broke ground, they found a layer of granite under the topsoil, making the construction costly. The area for the first turn alone used $70,000 worth of dynamite, making Turner's $750,000 construction plan near two million dollars. In the spring of 1960, Turner begged for a six-week postponement for the race after a snow storm delayed the pouring on concrete.[2]

With two weeks remaining until the inaugural race, the paving subcontractor threatened to leave the job site for lack of payment. To solve the problem, Turner and one of his friends threatened the paving subcontractor with a shotgun and a revolver to make sure the track's backstretch would be completed.[2] The first event at the recently completed Charlotte Motor Speedway was held on June 19, 1960.[3]

History[edit]

The event was started as an attempt by NASCAR to stage a Memorial Day weekend event that would rival the open-wheel Indianapolis 500. It was not until 1974, however, that both races competed head-to-head on the same day.[4] Before 1974, the two races were held on different days of the week, and on a few occasions, some drivers drove in both; this continued even after the 600 was moved to the same day, albeit to a smaller degree. In fact, the first World 600 was not held on the Memorial Day weekend; it was held on June 16 due to snowstorms that delayed the completion of Charlotte Motor Speedway. The 2009 race, because the race was postponed from its original May 24 date, was the first race to have run on Memorial Day itself.

With the installation of lights in 1992, fans complained to circuit management to have the race start later in the day because of the notorious North Carolina heat and humidity. They wanted to follow The Winston's popularity the previous week and switch the race to a nighttime finish to create cooler temperatures for spectators. The start time was moved back several times throughout the 1990s, and finally settled at 5:30 pm in 2001, to attempt to have the race finished by 10 pm ET, in time for local news on Fox affiliates.

With the new starting time came new challenges. Not only do race teams have to deal with the blistering Carolina heat, but the considerable temperature change at night make track conditions completely different.

The nighttime portion of the race is lit with a system that uses parabolic reflectors so that dangerous glare that would otherwise be in the drivers' eyes is minimized. The move of the race to the early evening made it possible for drivers to participate in both the 600 and the Indianapolis 500 by flying from Indianapolis to Charlotte as soon as the Indianapolis race was over. Experts disagree over whether, for health and safety reasons, anyone should be allowed to race 1100 miles in one day, but no regulation has been passed yet by any governing body to prevent it. From 2005 to 2010, the issue became moot as the state of Indiana finally decided to go to daylight saving time. This resulted in only about a one-hour span between the end of the Indianapolis race and the start of the Charlotte race. The Indianapolis 500 start time was moved back to 11:00 am Eastern in 2011, but no driver has made an attempt since. Over $20 million has been offered to the first driver who wins both. It was announced on March 4, 2014, that Kurt Busch will attempt both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.[5]

Until the Ferko lawsuit settlement took effect, the race was considered the third leg of the grand slam, and was once part of the Winston Million. It is considered one of the top five annual NASCAR races.[6]

Past races[edit]

  • 1961: The race saw numerous crashes, including a very bad collision involving Reds Kagle, who lost a leg when his Ford smashed through the guardrail in Turn Three.
  • 1964: Fireball Roberts suffers a hard crash in this race, resulting in an inferno. Roberts was severely burned, and would die of related complications on July 2 of that year.
  • 1976: Bruton Smith reassumed full control of the speedway with the resignation of former track president Richard Howard. In a move to boost promotion of the race, Janet Guthrie was entered in a car wrenched by Ralph Moody. Pearson edged Petty again after a cut tire dropped Yarborough off the lead lap.
  • 1977: Two racing legends win races on the same day. Richard Petty wins his second World 600, while A. J. Foyt was winning his fourth at Indy.
  • 1978: Darrell Waltrip won the first of his record five 600s in 1978 in a race-long six-car shootout; on the final lap Benny Parsons and David Pearson crashed. The lead changed 43 times, the most competitive 600 to that point of its history.
  • 1980: The race lasted seven hours due to 14 caution flags and two lengthy red flags for rain. Multiple tire failures helped lead to an epidemic of wrecks; at Lap 275 Dale Earnhardt blew a tire and his spin caught up Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, and David Pearson. Waltrip had the lead but in the final 20 laps was challenged by Benny Parsons; the two battled with the lead changing some seven times before Parsons edged Waltrip by a car length.
  • 1982: Neil Bonnett won his first World 600 driving the famous No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford with Warner Hodgdon as the sponsor.
  • 1983: Neil Bonnett won his second World 600 driving for the No. 75 Rahmoc-Hodgdon Chevrolet with Warner Hodgdon as the sponsor.
  • 1985: Considerable pre-race hype surrounds the race as Bill Elliott enters with a chance to win the Winston Million. Elliott won the pole position and led 81 laps, but faded to 18th at the finish. Darrell Waltrip took the victory, a key victory en route to the championship. Waltrip (who won The Winston a day earlier) nearly missed the race after a car/engine swap controversy with NASCAR Director of Competition Dick Beatty.[7] Elliott went on to win the Winston Million later in the season at Darlington.
  • 1989: Darrell Waltrip becomes the only driver to win the event for a record 5th time (1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989). After also winning the season-opening Daytona 500, Waltrip now had won two legs of the Winston Million, setting himself up for a potential $1 million bonus at Darlington. He would not be successful.
  • 1992: The race saw a controversial finish. Dale Earnhardt emerged from late green-flag pitstops with the lead after trailing by some three seconds entering the pits; there were complaints from several teams, notably Morgan-McClure Motorsports whose driver Ernie Irvan finished second, that Earnhardt had broken NASCAR's mandated pit road speed limit.
  • 1994: Second-year driver Jeff Gordon won the first race of his career. His team gambled on the final pit stop, taking on only two tires, giving him better track position.
  • 1995: The race was a dramatic affair as the lead changed 32 times, the most since 1988, and the battle for the lead became a spirited multilap affair between Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, and Sterling Marlin. Labonte punted Earnhardt out of the lead late in the race and sweated out late green-flag stops for fuel to take the win, his first in Winston Cup.
  • 2000: With Matt Kenseth winning, he becomes the first and only rookie to win this event. This was also his first career win.
  • 2005: On that race, a new record for the most cautions of any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race was set at 22 cautions. In addition, there was one red flag. During that race Jimmie Johnson slid past Bobby Labonte in turn four on the final lap, claiming the checkered flag. In doing so he became the first driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600 races. He would finish a distant second to Kasey Kahne the following year.
  • 2007: In one of NASCAR's biggest upsets, Casey Mears won. Tony Stewart led with ten laps remaining, hoping to win his first Coca-Cola 600, but he blew a tire with 8 laps left, giving the lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr. until he ran out of fuel. Denny Hamlin led with seven laps remaining until he also ran out of fuel. Mears, driving for Hendrick Motorsports in the number 25 Chevrolet, took the lead for six laps remaining to win, running out of fuel just after crossing the finish line. More upsets would happen such as the top ten including underrated drivers including J. J. Yeley (2nd), Kyle Petty (third), Reed Sorenson (4th), and Brian Vickers (5th).
  • 2009: On Monday, although nicknamed by many as the 24 Hours of Charlotte, saw the shortest run of the race in its history. The race was delayed from Sunday to Monday due to a rainstorm, and the following day, more rain forced the race to go only 227 laps, although it took a 6 and a half hour marathon to reach that point, due to frequent interruptions by competition cautions and three red flags, including a two-hour period under the red flag which ended the race and declared David Reutimann the winner, one of few drivers who opted not to pit under the final caution. Reutimann was the second surprise first-time winner in 2009 after Brad Keselowski at Talladega.
  • 2011: The 2011 running, at 402 laps and 603 miles, was the longest race in NASCAR history.[8] Dale Earnhardt, Jr., trying to break a long winless drought, ran out of gas coming off of turn 4, and Kevin Harvick scored his third win of 2011.
  • 2013: The 2013 running was red flagged after 126 laps of the 400 lap event. A cable that supports a Skycam used by FOX Sports over the front stretch of the race track, snapped and fell on the racing surface. Several spectators were injured as a result of the failure.[9] The second red flag happened when Dale Earnhardt, Jr. blew an engine which caused Greg Biffle to crash into the wall and behind the 93 got in the oil and slid into the 7 of Dave Blaney. Kyle Busch's engine failed three laps before. The third and final big one happened on lap 325 when Aric Almirola got a run on Mark Martin, which made it 3-wide. Martin backed out and barely clipped Almirola, collecting Jeff Gordon in the process. Afterward, Kevin Harvick won the race for the second time when he took two tires on the final caution and passed Kasey Kahne, who did not pit.
  • 2014: The 2014 running was under long green flag runs until the first caution, which was called for debris, There was a grand total of nine cautions, Afterward, Jimmie Johnson won the Coke 600 for the 4th time.

Name changes[edit]

From 1960 to 1984 the race was known as the World 600. In 1985, the race's name was changed to the Coca-Cola World 600. In 1986 the name was shortened to the Coca-Cola 600, or Coke 600 which it was referred to at the time. The name changed again in 2002 to the Coca-Cola Racing Family 600 referring to the Coca-Cola family of drivers who are sponsored by Coca-Cola. After 2002, the name returned to the Coca-Cola 600.

The world record image at 2014 Coca-Cola 600[edit]

The world’s biggest photo was captured during the running of this year’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25th. The 348 gigapixel image captured during the race is 70 000 times bigger than a standard ‘selfie’ and allows each and every one of the more than one hundred thousand fans in the stands who attended the event to zoom in on the 360 degree image and find themselves. View the Coca-Cola 600 Fancam here: www.coke600.fancam.com


First time winners[edit]

The Coca-Cola 600 has been the site of many drivers' first wins, including future champions David Pearson (1961), Jeff Gordon (1994), Bobby Labonte (1995), and Matt Kenseth (2000). The most recent driver to have the 600 as his first win was David Reutimann, who won a rain-shortened event in 2009. That was the second time in three years that a driver won their first race at the Coca-Cola 600; Casey Mears won his only race to date in the 2007 running.

Past winners[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
1960 June 19* Joe Lee Johnson Paul McDuffie Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 5:34:06 107.735 Report
1961 May 28 David Pearson John Masoni Pontiac 400 600 (965.606) 5:22:29 111.633 Report
1962 May 27 Nelson Stacy Holman-Moody Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:46:44 125.552 Report
1963 June 2* Fred Lorenzen Holman-Moody Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:31:52 132.417 Report
1964 May 24 Jim Paschal Petty Enterprises Plymouth 400 600 (965.606) 4:46:14 125.772 Report
1965 May 23 Fred Lorenzen Holman-Moody Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:55:38 121.722 Report
1966 May 22 Marvin Panch Petty Enterprises Plymouth 400 600 (965.606) 4:26:35 135.042 Report
1967 May 28 Jim Paschal Frieden Enterprises Plymouth 400 600 (965.606) 4:25:02 135.832 Report
1968 May 26 Buddy Baker Ray Fox Dodge 255* 382.5 (615.574) 3:04:14 104.207 Report
1969 May 25 LeeRoy Yarbrough Junior Johnson & Associates Mercury 400 600 (965.606) 4:27:56 134.361 Report
1970 May 24 Donnie Allison Banjo Matthews Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:37:36 129.68 Report
1971 May 30 Bobby Allison Holman-Moody Mercury 400 600 (965.606) 4:16:20 140.422 Report
1972 May 28 Buddy Baker Petty Enterprises Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:13:04 142.255 Report
1973 May 27 Buddy Baker Nord Krauskopf Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:26:53 134.89 Report
1974* May 26 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 360* 540 (869.045) 3:58:21 135.72 Report
1975 May 25 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:07:42 145.327 Report
1976 May 30 David Pearson Wood Brothers Racing Mercury 400 600 (965.606) 4:22:06 137.352 Report
1977 May 29 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:21:29 137.676 Report
1978 May 28 Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:20:12 138.355 Report
1979 May 27 Darrell Waltrip DiGard Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:23:24 136.674 Report
1980 May 25 Benny Parsons M. C. Anderson Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 5:01:51 119.265 Report
1981 May 24 Bobby Allison Ranier-Lundy Buick 400 600 (965.606) 4:38:22 129.326 Report
1982 May 30 Neil Bonnett Wood Brothers Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:36:48 130.058 Report
1983 May 29 Neil Bonnett RahMoc Enterprises Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:15:51 140.707 Report
1984 May 27 Bobby Allison DiGard Motorsports Buick 400 600 (965.606) 4:38:34 129.233 Report
1985 May 26 Darrell Waltrip Junior Johnson & Associates Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:13:52 141.807 Report
1986 May 25 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:16:24 140.406 Report
1987 May 24 Kyle Petty Wood Brothers Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:33:48 131.483 Report
1988 May 29 Darrell Waltrip Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:49:15 124.46 Report
1989 May 28 Darrell Waltrip Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:09:52 144.077 Report
1990 May 27 Rusty Wallace Blue Max Racing Pontiac 400 600 (965.606) 4:21:32 137.65 Report
1991 May 26 Davey Allison Robert Yates Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:19:05 138.951 Report
1992* May 24 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:30:43 132.98 Report
1993* May 30 Dale Earnhardt Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:07:25 145.504 Report
1994 May 29 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:18:10 139.445 Report
1995 May 28 Bobby Labonte Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 3:56:55 151.952 Report
1996 May 26 Dale Jarrett Robert Yates Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:03:56 147.581 Report
1997 May 25 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 333* 499.5 (803.867) 3:39:10 136.745 Report
1998 May 24 Jeff Gordon Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:23:53 136.424 Report
1999 May 30 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 3:57:50 151.367 Report
2000 May 28 Matt Kenseth Roush Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:12:23 142.64 Report
2001 May 27 Jeff Burton Roush Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:20:40 138.107 Report
2002 May 26 Mark Martin Roush Racing Ford 400 600 (965.606) 4:21:23 137.729 Report
2003 May 25 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 276* 414 (666.268) 3:16:50 126.198 Report
2004 May 30 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:12:10 142.763 Report
2005* May 29 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 5:13:52 114.698 Report
2006 May 28 Kasey Kahne Evernham Motorsports Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:39:25 128.84 Report
2007 May 27 Casey Mears Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:36:27 130.222 Report
2008 May 25 Kasey Kahne Gillett Evernham Motorsports Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:25:09 135.772 Report
2009 May 25* David Reutimann Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota 227* 340.5 (547.981) 2:48:59 120.899 Report
2010 May 30 Kurt Busch Penske Racing Dodge 400 600 (965.606) 4:08:20 144.966 Report
2011 May 29 Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 402* 603 (970.434) 4:33:14 132.414 Report
2012 May 27 Kasey Kahne Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 3:51:14 155.687 Report
2013 May 26 Kevin Harvick Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:35:49 130.521 Report
2014 May 25 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 400 600 (965.606) 4:07:27 145.484 Report
  • 1960: Race postponed three weeks because of construction delays.
  • 1963, 2009: Race postponed because of rain.
  • 1968, 2003, 2009: Race shortened due to rain.
  • 1974: Race scheduled for 360 laps / 540 miles due to energy crisis and the event was the first year it was scheduled for the same day as the Indianapolis 500.
  • 1986: Indy 500 was rained out; races were not held against each other.
  • 1992: Final time the race was scheduled at the same starting time as the Indy 500.
  • 1993: Race changed to an evening/night race.
  • 1997: Race shortened due to lateness caused by a rain delay and a 1 am curfew.
  • 2005: The race set the series record for most cautions at 22.
  • 2011: Race extended to 402 laps (603 miles) because of a Green-white-checker finish.

Multiple winners (drivers)[edit]

# Wins Driver Years Won
5 Darrell Waltrip 1978–1979, 1985, 1988–1989
4 Jimmie Johnson 2003–2005, 2014
3 Buddy Baker 1968, 1972–1973
David Pearson 1961, 1974, 1976
Bobby Allison 1971, 1981, 1984
Dale Earnhardt 1986, 1992–1993
Jeff Gordon 1994, 1997–1998
Kasey Kahne 2006, 2008, 2012
2 Fred Lorenzen 1963, 1965
Jim Paschal 1964, 1967
Richard Petty 1975, 1977
Neil Bonnett 1982–1983
Jeff Burton 1999, 2001
Kevin Harvick 2011, 2013

Multiple winners (teams)[edit]

# Wins Team Years Won
11 Hendrick Motorsports 1988–1989, 1994, 1997–1998, 2003–2005, 2007, 2012, 2014
5 Petty Enterprises 1964, 1966, 1972, 1975, 1977
Richard Childress Racing 1986, 1992–1993, 2011, 2013
4 Holman-Moody 1962–1963, 1965, 1971
Wood Brothers Racing 1974, 1976, 1982, 1987
Roush Racing 1999–2002
3 DiGard Motorsports 1978–1979, 1984
2 Junior Johnson & Associates 1969, 1985
Robert Yates Racing 1991, 1996
Gillett Evernham Motorsports 2006, 2008

Manufacturer wins[edit]

# Wins Manufacturer Years Won
23 Chevrolet 1960, 1978–1980, 1983, 1985–1986, 1988–1989, 1992–1995, 1997–1998, 2003–2005, 2007, 2011–2014
12 Ford 1962–1963, 1965, 1970, 1982, 1987, 1991, 1996, 1999–2002
8 Dodge 1968, 1972–1973, 1975, 1977, 2006, 2008, 2010
4 Mercury 1969, 1971, 1974, 1976
3 Plymouth 1964, 1966, 1967
2 Buick 1981, 1984
Pontiac 1961, 1990
1 Toyota 2009

World 600 Qualifier[edit]

Year Date Driver Team Manufacturer Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
1961 May 21 Richard Petty Petty Enterprises Plymouth 67 100.5 (161.739) 0:45:09 133.554 Report
Joe Weatherly Bud Moore Engineering Pontiac 67 100.5 (161.739) 0:52:18 115.591 Report

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Hendrick Motorsports - "Endurance Week" starts now
  2. ^ a b c Aumann, Mark (May 24, 2012). "Turner's dream brings creation of Charlotte track". NASCAR. Archived from the original on October 17, 2012. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ "1960 World 600". Racing-Reference.info. Retrieved May 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Back in the Day with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – SpeedTV – Coca Cola 600 episode
  5. ^ Gluck, Jeff (March 4, 2014). "Kurt Busch to attempt Indianapolis 500, Coke 600 'double'". USA Today. McLean, VA. Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  6. ^ NASCAR's Best Races
  7. ^ When the 600 molded a champion
  8. ^ "Kevin Harvick Wins Coke Cola 600 – Longest NASCAR Race Ever – Crazy Finish". Racing News Digest. Racing News Digest. Retrieved October 30, 2011. 
  9. ^ "TV cable falls, delays Coca-Cola 600". NASCAR.com. 2013-05-26. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 


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