As the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend approaches, motorsports fans around the world gear up for an exhilarating day of racing. Three marquee races take place within hours of each other, starting with Formula 1’s Monaco Grand Prix, followed by the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar. And as a grand finale to this motorsports extravaganza, we have one of the biggest events in stock car racing—the NASCAR Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600. In this article, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive preview of the race, including how to watch it, race insights, and our top picks for this year’s event.
Race Details and Format
The Coca-Cola 600, also known as NASCAR’s longest race, will be held at the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The race spans a challenging 400 laps and covers a grueling 600 miles, putting drivers’ physical and mechanical endurance to the ultimate test. What makes this race particularly demanding is the transition from day to night, leading to changing track conditions and strategic challenges for the teams.
How to Watch the Coca-Cola 600
- Date: Sunday, May 28
- Location: Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.
- Time: 6 p.m. ET
- TV: Fox
- Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
Race Preview: What to Watch For
The 2022 edition of the Coca-Cola 600 set a new standard for excitement, with intense action from start to finish. The race witnessed numerous contenders coming and going as they pushed their limits on Charlotte’s challenging track. With 18 caution periods, including a memorable incident where Chris Buescher’s car rolled down the front stretch, the race went into double overtime and became the longest in NASCAR history, spanning 619.5 miles.
Last year’s race was the first year of competition for the Next Gen car, which may have contributed to some of the attrition. This season, however, drivers have had a chance to gain experience and refine their understanding of the car. While the Next Gen car has shown its prowess on mile and a half tracks like Charlotte, we can expect an equally exciting race this year, even without an abundance of caution flags bunching up the field.
Hendrick Motorsports’ Legacy in the Coca-Cola 600
The Coca-Cola 600 holds a special place in the history of Hendrick Motorsports. With 12 wins, the team has achieved the most victories in this prestigious race. Legends of the sport like Jimmie Johnson (2003-2005, 2014) and Jeff Gordon (1994, 1997-1998) contributed seven wins to the team’s remarkable record. Other notable drivers who secured victories for Hendrick Motorsports include Darrell Waltrip (1988-1989), Casey Mears (2007), Kasey Kahne (2012), and Kyle Larson (2021).
This year, Hendrick Motorsports has experienced its share of challenges with driver injuries and crew suspensions disrupting the team’s continuity. However, the return of Alex Bowman to the driver’s seat of the No. 48 car after recovering from a fractured vertebra signals a step toward stabilization. The Coca-Cola 600 presents an opportunity for Hendrick Motorsports to add to its legacy in this iconic race.
Technical Changes and Safety Updates
In the lead-up to the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR has implemented technical changes to address safety concerns related to the Next Gen car. Following an incident at Talladega where Ryan Preece’s car pierced the passenger’s side door of Kyle Larson’s car, NASCAR has introduced six door bar gussets to strengthen the welded joint and limit intrusion. These gussets are provided by NASCAR at no cost to the race teams. Additionally, teams have been instructed to remove the V-brace from the front clip to reduce stiffness in that area. Further changes to the Next Gen chassis may be made pending the results of ongoing crash testing.
Top Pick to Win
(Odds via Caesars Sportsbook)
Bubba Wallace (+1500): With recent strong performances and an impressive showing in last year’s Coca-Cola 600, Bubba Wallace and his team have shown significant improvement in managing races. They remain a formidable force on 1.5-mile tracks, and their recent successes, including a second-place finish in the All-Star Race, position Wallace as a genuine contender. While the odds may appear modest at +1500, Wallace’s consistent performance and upward trajectory make him a viable threat to win this year’s race.
The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway promises to deliver an adrenaline-filled spectacle of stock car racing. With its grueling length, challenging day-to-night transition, and a history of memorable moments, this race is a true test of skill, endurance, and strategy. As we gear up for this exciting event, make sure to mark your calendars, tune in to Fox or stream it through fuboTV, and witness the ultimate NASCAR test—the Coca-Cola 600. Will Bubba Wallace continue his hot streak, or will we see a new champion emerge? Buckle up and get ready for a thrilling race that will leave fans on the edge of their seats.