CONCORD, N.C. – The NASCAR Cup Series is preparing for the longest race of the season. Six hundred miles under the lights await at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
While it may seem like a long race from a spectator’s point of view, there’s even more that goes into it from a team’s perspective.
Take a look at these five interesting facts about Hendrick Motorsports taking on the season’s longest race.
1) More tires are consumed. A 600-mile race means more pit stops and more tires, creating a heavier work load for the tire carriers.
“Instead of dealing with maybe 15 sets of tires, they have to deal with 18 or 20 sets,” said Robert Deering, shop foreman for the Nos. 48 and 88 race shop. “The sets of tires they have to prepare is a bigger workload on them.”
2) Engines are given extra attention. The engines are one of the most crucial elements in a race car. Special attention is required to make it last through all practices, qualifying and the entire race.
“The engine shop is pretty diligent about how much stress to put on the engine,” Deering said. “They know that practice times from Thursday dictate how many miles or laps they can practice with today.”
3) Team care is especially important. The race at Charlotte is not only hard on drivers, but the entire team as well. The Hendrick Motorsports teams ensure that everyone stays hydrated and energized as the day can be exhausting, causing fatigue.
4) Driver visibility plays a different role. The race at Charlotte starts late afternoon and ends late evening. When cars start on the track, the sun is up. As the race continues, it changes position until sunset, which changes the temperature on the track and limits driver visibility in certain areas on the track.
“The transition from daytime to nighttime can be tough,” Deering explained. “The engineers and crew chiefs work extra hard to make sure that they understand the track and temperature changes going into the race. It can always change.”
5) The Hendrick Motorsports race shop is only 3.7 miles away from Charlotte Motor Speedway, making it the shortest trek for the haulers to travel. The longest journey the haulers take is to Sonoma Raceway in California, a whopping 2,747-mile, 39-hour trip.