CONCORD, N.C. – The longest event of the NASCAR Cup Series season is rapidly approaching, and the 600-mile race is adding a new tweak.
The race next Sunday, March 28, at Charlotte Motor Speedway will feature an additional stage.
Instead of the typical three-stage format, the 600-mile race will now be split into four separate stages.
Stage 1 will end after Lap 100, Stage 2 will conclude at Lap 200, Stage 3 will wrap up on Lap 300 and the full race is scheduled for 400 laps.
Previously, the 600 was scheduled to have both Stage 1 and 2 span 115 laps. Now, the endurance event will feature an extra break. And that provides yet another opportunity to earn extra points.
“It presents unique challenges that don't exist in any other race,” Marcus Smith, president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc., said of the 600-mile event. “The distance is greater. The test of endurance is greater. The challenge of adjusting to the track surface from hot to cool puts more pressure on crew chiefs and pit crews.
“It's only fitting that teams have an opportunity to be rewarded for the extra effort required to win at the 600. An additional stage win and that extra playoff point in May could be critical for playoff success in the fall."
As is the case in the rest of the regular season’s races, extra points will be given to the top 10 finishers at the conclusion of each stage, with a bonus playoff point earned by each stage winner.
At Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has earned 19 wins – its second-most at any track, behind only 24 at Martinsville Speedway – with the most recent win at the track earned by Jimmie Johnson during last year’s postseason run to his seventh Cup championship. He is also the most recent Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the 600-mile event, which he did in 2014.
The organization has totals of 60 top-five finishes, 94 top-10s, 17 pole positions – tied for the most at any venue – and 4,988 laps led at the track.
The 600 is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.