NASCAR: 3 upcoming races fans should circle on their calendars

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR -Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR -Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /
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Kyle Larson, NASCAR
Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR – Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports /

NASCAR events to circle: No. 1 – Coca-Cola 600

The Coca-Cola 600 is a crown jewel race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, and it is one of the most prestigious races for a driver to win. It is the longest race on the schedule at 600 miles and takes place in NASCAR’s backyard at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The race falls on the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend and is one of the three major racing events taking place that day, with the others being Formula 1‘s Monaco Grand Prix and IndyCar‘s Indianapolis 500.

While the prestige of the race alone is enough to build anticipation, the other reason fans should be marking this race on their calendars is the overall racing product it should produce.

For much of the last decade or so, the Charlotte Motor Speedway has largely produced a lackluster product. The prestige of the Coca-Cola 600 never diminished, but the on-track product left a lot to be desired.

However, the 2022 event marked the debut of the Gen 7 car, and that led to a whole different racing product that hadn’t been seen at the event in many years. The race was a hit among fans and the Gen 7 package produced fantastic, competitive racing throughout the night.

From the drop of the green flag, there was side-by-side racing every lap. There were 31 lead changes throughout the night. Another notable highlight saw Chris Buescher barrel roll through the infield in a bizarre accident involving Daniel Suarez.

After a late caution caused by Chase Briscoe spinning out while racing Kyle Larson for the lead with two laps to go, the race went into overtime. In the first overtime, Larson, Denny Hamlin, Ross Chastain, and Austin Dillon were racing four-wide for the lead before Dillon and Larson collided, causing a multi-car accident which also collected Chastain.

However, a caution flag was thrown before the white flag, so the race went into a second overtime. In the second overtime, Hamlin was able to hold off Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick to score his first career Coca-Cola 600 win.

The race was viewed by many as an “instant classic,” and it also wound up being the longest race in NASCAR history at 619.5 miles.

This year’s event should be pretty similar to the 2022 edition of the race. Even outside of Charlotte, the racing product on 1.5-mile ovals has vastly improved with the Gen 7 cars, and a lot of what we saw last year in this race should be expected this year as well. This should add excitement to what is already expected to be a thrilling day of racing.