Only the tracks of Daytona and Charlotte can boast that they host back-to-back weekends of Sprint Cup racing. The tradition rich Daytona International Speedway kicks off the Sprint Cup season with a weeklong schedule of racing events sandwiched between two weekends of racing, ending with the time honored Daytona 500.
While Charlotte — or for that matter any other track — can boast of having a race that carries the same weight as the 500, Charlotte can boast that the 10 days in May that make up its Speedweeks provides as much racing action as that of Daytona’s. They each offer a race in all three of the major divisions of racing plus a unique non-points event.
Charlotte’s opening weekend of racing featured a Camping World Truck Series race and the most unique qualifying format used in the series for its non-points race, The Sprint All-Star Race. Since there is only one car on the track at a time for qualifying, The All-Star Race qualifying format featured three green flag laps with a four-tire pit stop with no pit road speed limit.
Racing resumes at Charlotte on Thursday with the LiftMaster Pole Day to determine the starting order for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Immediately after qualifying, the Legends All Star Race will take place featuring drivers that compete regularly in the Legends Series.
Friday will also see the track once again open its doors, but this time it will not be to hear the roar of the engines. Coca-Cola will be hosting a track walk and concert. Fans will have the opportunity to walk around the mile-and-a-half track with Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin before being treated to a concert featuring Trace Adkins and Josh Turner.
The roar of the engines may be replaced inside the speedway, but for all of those race fans that just can’t get enough racing, all they will have to do is walk across the street to the speedway’s dirt track. The World of Outlaws will be competing on the four-tenths clay track for a shot at winning the Circle K NOS Energy Showdown.
Saturday is reserved for the Nationwide Series as it will be 300 miles of racing in the History 300. Traditionally this is one of the best Nationwide races of the year as it usually includes a field that features many of the Sprint Cup drivers.
All of this racing finally leads up to the one of what is considered one of the cornerstones of the entire Sprint Cup Series schedule, The Coca-Cola 600. This is not only the longest race on the schedule, it is one of the toughest on both crews and drivers as it begins in the sun and heat of the day but does not see the checkered flag wave until long after the sun has set.
This is one race that you defi- nitely want to get to your seat early as Charlotte’s pre-race activities for the 600 are as legendary as the extra hundred miles of racing that the race features. In years past the pre-race activities have had a strong patriotic theme and this year will be no different as the festivities will feature an air parade of at least 10 vintage war birds along with a patriotic flyover.
It’s a great week to be in Charlotte and while Daytona may get the nod for having a beach, race fans know that Charlotte is the hub of the NASCAR world. A visitor to the area has the opportunity to not only tour race shops such as Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing, but to also tour NASCAR’s Hall of Fame.
This coming weekend is Memorial Day and there may be no better way of spending the holiday than by packing up and taking the family to Charlotte. The track has always promised that there would be a seat for anyone that wants to come, and with ticket prices as low as $49, it’s a great value for a full day of entertainment and racing.
Event: Coca-Cola 600
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway
(1.5-mile tri-oval with 24 degrees
of banking in the turns)
Date: May 26, 6 p.m.
Defending Champion: Kasey