NASCAR: Charlotte race breaks record for longest race ever

Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR, Cup Series (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, Team Penske, Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR, Cup Series (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which lasted from Sunday night into Monday morning, ended up being the longest race in NASCAR Cup Series history.

The Coca-Cola 600 has been contested every year going back to 1960, the year Charlotte Motor Speedway opened. This Sunday evening marked the 61st annual running of the longest race on the NASCAR schedule.

This race, scheduled for the usual 400 laps around the four-turn, 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) oval in Concord, North Carolina, ended up turning into the longest race in NASCAR history in terms of distance.

With just two laps remaining, Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott was well out in front of Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and appeared to have his first win since September of 2019, which came at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, in the bag.

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Then the caution flag flew, as William Byron, one of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates, spun out due to a flat tire.

Elliott’s team made the decision to have him bring the #9 Chevrolet into the pits for new tires, which sent him back to 11th place for the final restart. Keselowski inherited the lead, as he stayed out on the track.

The green flag flew again on lap 404, meaning the race had become a 405-lap race with the potential to go longer if another caution flag came out before the white flag flew.

There were no more caution flag periods prior to the flying of the white flag, and it was Keselowski who held on to take the checkered flag by just 0.293 seconds ahead of Hendrick Motorsports’ Jimmie Johnson in second place and Elliott in a disappointing third on new tires.

Johnson ended up being disqualified after his #48 Chevrolet failed post-race inspection, so Elliott was scored in second place. He finished 0.674 seconds behind Keselowski.

But the race didn’t need to go any longer to become the longest race ever at 607.5 miles.

Prior to this year, the Coca-Cola 600 had been shortened three times, and it had gone exactly 600 miles 56 times. It had only ever gone over 600 miles once, with that happening back in 2011 when Kevin Harvick won a 402-lap (603-mile) event by 0.703 seconds ahead of David Ragan.

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This Wednesday night’s race at the track is scheduled to be a much shorter race of only 208 laps, as it is only a 500-kilometer race. This race, the Alsco Uniforms 500, is set to be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 8:00 p.m. ET.