The Backstretch Blog's Race Day: Good Charlotte?
Today is the biggest day of the year for race fans. It's 1262 miles of racing starting with the Grand Prix of Monaco and ending with the Coca Cola 600. Oh and there's this little race called the Indianapolis 500 sandwiched in between.
This being a NASCAR blog, I'm gonna focus here on the night cap, the Coke 600. It is billed as racing's ultimate endurance race. Now 600 miles would get you from Bristol, TN to St. Louis, MO and take a normal person about eight and a half hours to do it. These drivers are gonna make that drive in about half the time. It is meant to be a test of mental skill, along with who has the fastest car.
"The obvious challenge is of course the physical stamina it takes to be up on the wheel for a 600 mile-race," said Denny Hamlin. "It looks like it could be a hot day for Sunday's race, so it'll be important to stay hydrated to anticipate the heat we'll be feeling in the car."
But I contend this years race will not have the physical grind of previous races. As some one who drives a lot can tell you, the more you stop, the easier the drive. I will take longer, but you dont have to have the pinpoint constant focus. I'm not saying this race won't be hard or a test. Let's be honest, 600 miles is 600 miles. That being said, with four scheduled stops thanks to the new segment racing, it's not going to be the physical test it once was. Though, I'm probably the only person who feels this way.
"I'm not sure adding an extra stage will mean a whole lot," said Ryan Newman. "It is obviously going to add another caution to the mix which changes the race a little bit. If the extra stage caution would not have happened organically so-to-speak, I don't know if it will make a difference. It's a break that we know has been scheduled and we'll take it when it comes."
Whether you like or hate the idea of stage racing, it will give drivers one more opportunity in this race to earn playoff points. Kevin Harvick will have the best view of it all to start the race, as he will lead the field to green from the pole.
"(Having an extra stage will) definitely will have an impact," said Harvick. "I don't think you're gonna race any different because you're gonna want to lead as many laps as you can and score as many points as you can, so I think obviously for us we gained a big advantage with the pit stall. "
Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth and Erik Jones round out the top five starting positions. The green flag it set to drop on the 2017 Coca Cola 600 just before 6:20 pm. You can watch the race on our sister stations FoxTriCities, WEMT.