Coca Cola 600 Runs Today

May 24, 2009 by Warren Hayashi  
Filed under Racing

Many people think that a NASCAR Sprint Cup race is about longevity, that the driver that’s able to just drive around comfortably and save his car has a better chance of making it to the finish line first. This certainly is just not the case, while managing your car and its resources is ultimately a major factor in determining the final standings in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. Winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup event certainly requires considerable more than just surviving the carnage that often takes place on a NASCAR track. In fact I would argue that with the advances in technology in all phases of car performance and durability that short of running into an immovable object and taking a chunk out of your car, trying to save your car is something that definitely isn’t as prevalent in today’s NASCAR.

This subject has been on my mind today because the 50th edition of the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is taking place on Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Coca Cola 600 is considered one of the hardest races to win on the NASCAR Sprint Cup calendar and certainly distinguishes itself due to its singularity as the longest Sprint Cup event of the year. The Coca Cola 600 also illustrates beautifully how the most important element to a good finish in a NASCAR Sprint Cup race is actually a good pole position, a consistently fast and reliable car and maybe a slight brush by Lady Luck.

Ryan Newman - Image: Zuma Press

Ryan Newman - Image: Zuma Press

Ryan Newman sits in the pole position of Sunday’s Coca Cola 600, his eighth pole position in Sprint Cup competitions in a race he has never won, and one he knows that he’ll need more than the pole position to have a chance to win. This said he’s certainly won’t be giving up the pole position either, it still’s an advantage, but is only one parameter in the equation of winning in NASCAR. He will still have to contend with the weather, the other racers, who want to win as much as him and maybe more in some cases, and possibly Lady Luck frowning on him.

NASCAR is a different animal then it was fifteen years ago when the a driver like Jeff Burton first ran his first 600 mile race and is actually more of a sprint then you might think. The speed, intensity and physical endurance required to win a race like the Coca Cola 600 means winning requires greater mental and physical endurance from the drivers than it use too. The need to concentrate constantly to drive on the edge of disaster that the speeds of today’s NASCAR race cars achieve and the split second timing required to avoid disaster makes a NASCAR Sprint Cup race a drive along the edge of a tilted cliff at times.

Note: The Coca Cola 600 was postponed on Sunday due to rain and will run Monday at noon instead.

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