NASCAR Cup Series: Phoenix 500 race is not a 500-mile race

The Shriners Children's 500 NASCAR Cup Series race is named based on its distance in kilometers, not miles or laps.

Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR
Ryan Blaney, Team Penske, Phoenix Raceway, NASCAR / Chris Graythen/GettyImages

This Sunday afternoon's NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, officially named the Shriners Children's 500 for sponsorship purposes, is not a 500-mile race.

Sunday's race is also not a 500-lap race around the four-turn, 1-mile (1.609-kilometer) Avondale, Arizona oval (as that would also inherently make it a 500-mile race). And it never has been.

As usual, Sunday's race is scheduled to be a 312-lap race. Since Phoenix Raceway was added to the Cup Series schedule in 1988, the overwhelming majority of the races there have been 312-lap races. Just one has been scheduled for more than 312 laps.

Fox Sports' Bob Pockrass explained that NASCAR opts to use kilometers for this event because the use of a number such as 500 makes more sense than using a number such as 312.

Interestingly, Sunday's race, kilometer-wise, would actually make more sense to be 311 laps in length.

Considering the appropriately named Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, this has caused some confusion among fans, though why this confusion is suddenly a talking point after decades of it not being one is unclear.

The United States is indeed one of only three countries that does not use the metric system, the others being Liberia and Myanmar. But that didn't just start this weekend.

Upcoming NASCAR races not named after lengths

As far as race names not representing race lengths (in miles), the same thing is true about the upcoming races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Martinsville Speedway, though those race names aren't based on miles or kilometers; they are indeed based on lap totals.

Next weekend's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway is a 500-lap race around the four-turn, 0.533-mile (0.858-kilometer) high-banked Bristol, Tennessee oval, and Easter Sunday's Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway is a 400-lap race around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) Ridgeway, Virginia oval.

As a result, those two races are 266.5 miles (429 kilometers) and 210.4 miles (338.8 kilometers) in length, respectively. But the numbers used in their race names are still 500 and 400.

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Tune into Fox at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon for the live broadcast of the Shriners Children's 500 from Phoenix Raceway. Begin a free trial of FuboTV now and don't miss this race or any of the upcoming races on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule!