NASCAR Pre-Race Media: Coca-Cola 600 Track Trends, Race Preview, etc

TRACK: Charlotte Motor Speedway (1.5-oval). DISTANCE: 400 Laps — STAGE 1: 100 Laps, STAGE 2: 100 Laps, STAGE 3: 100 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 100 Laps, MILES (600 Miles)

1 of NASCAR’s crown jewels. NASCAR has been coming to Charlotte since 1960 but first held the annual Coca-Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend in 1961.

2018 was the 1st time Charlotte didn’t hold 2 oval races as they moved the Fall race to the road course (ROVAL).

2020 saw the ‘600 run behind closed doors.

  • 2 of the last 3 Coca-Cola 600’s have seen the winner of the 2nd stage finish 19th. In fact, the 2020 and 2019 Coke 600’s saw Alex Bowman win Stages 1 and 2 in 2020 and Brad Keselowski in 2019. They didn’t win the race outright in the end. Last year, Kyle Larson swept all 3 stages en route to the dominating win.
  • Other than Kyle Busch sweeping all 3 stages in 2018 and Larson last year, just one other time did the winner of the ‘600 end up winning a stage at all.
  •  The ‘600 has seen a lot of dominance lately. Martin Truex Jr. led 392 of 400 laps in his 2016 win. Kyle Busch followed that up with leading 377 of 400 laps in 2018 only for Truex to lead 116 laps in his win in 2019. Larson led 327 laps last year. Over the last 12 Charlotte oval races, the eventual race winner led at least 91 laps in nine of them with seven of those eight leading at least 115 laps.
  • Starting position hasn’t mattered much lately in the ‘600 mile race. Four of the last seven race winners have come from a starting spot outside of the top 10 including three of the last six coming from Row 7 or worst.
  • 4 of the last 7 oval Charlotte races had a final green to checkered flag run of 59 laps or more. There’s been just 2 OT Finishes in the last 18 races.


The track looks similar to Atlanta and Texas, but closer to Texas though. With more grip, tire fall off is a lot less which means pit strategy comes into play with this being a track position event. You can take 2 tires or even no tires on a late race caution/pit stop.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 30: Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 Metro Tech Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)


Kyle Larson

He swept every stage and took home a dominating win last year.

Chase Elliott

3 straight top 2 finishes including four in his last six Charlotte tries on the oval. His worst two finishes outside of the top 2? 11th and 4th.

Kyle Busch

6 top six finishes in his last eight at Charlotte including some domination in there.

Denny Hamlin

He has 5 top 7’s in his last 7 Charlotte starts.

Martin Truex Jr.

This is a great track for him. He’s had eight top six finishes in his last 11 Charlotte starts including three wins and a runner-up.


William Byron

The hometown kid was fourth last year.

Christopher Bell

Worth a look. Bell, was ninth in the 2020 Coke 600.

Kurt Busch

He’s ready for a ‘600 win. Busch, has three top eight finishes in his last five Charlotte oval starts including eight in his last 11 tries.

Tyler Reddick

Here’s a good one too. Reddick was eighth and ninth respectively in the ‘600 and won the 2019 Xfinity Series race from this track too.

Austin Dillon

He’s a past winner of this race and has two straight top 10’s including being sixth in last year’s ‘600.

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 30: A general view of cars on track as the sun sets during the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 30, 2021 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Who To Fade?

Brad Keselowski

He won in 2020 but that was just his third top 5 in the last 13 Charlotte starts. He was 11th last year.

Team Penske

Joey Logano has just one top five in his last nine Charlotte starts himself including being 17th last year. Ryan Blaney himself has just one top five in 10 career Charlotte oval starts and just two top 10’s at that. Austin Cindric is a rookie.

Stewart-Haas Racing

Kevin Harvick does have 4 straight top 10 finishes and six in his last seven tries, but only one finish better than fifth since 2016. Aric Almirola is 0-for-5 for top 10’s with SHR while Cole Custer was 31st, 12th and 21st respectively and Chase Briscoe being 23rd last year.

Of Note

Toyota’s have won four of the last seven Coke 600’s and three of the last six on the oval overall. But, since 2020, they’ve looked pedestrian.

The thing is, they were 4-6-29 in the ‘600 of 2020 with all 87 combined laps led by Truex Jr. and 2-9-29 in the second race that year. Last season, they went 3-7-24-29 with 10 total laps led.

Key Stat

Team Penske has won 18 Indy 500’s on Memorial Day weekend but just two Coca-Cola 600’s (2010, 2020). Neither were on the same day.

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