Two things need to happen today.
Marcus Smith and his staff at Charlotte Motor Speedway need to lock the gates at the racetrack and not touch anything. Leave the racing surface as it is since the Coca-Cola 600 ended late Sunday night.
The second thing is NASCAR needs to take a snapshot of the Next Gen package that ran Sunday night and put it in the file folder for next season’s race. Don’t even think about making tweaks.
NASCAR put on a highly successful Coca-Cola 600, and it’s exactly what needs to happen going forward. The racing surface was perfect with the way the resin was applied to offer multiple grooves, and the Next Gen race car continues to show that it’s a much better car than its predecessor for intermediate racetracks… Texas Motor Speedway excluded.
It’s important to note that it wasn’t just one thing that made the race entertaining. This is why both Charlotte and NASCAR need to take stock of what went right this time around.
While Charlotte has put on decent traces in the past, let’s not act like Next Gen was the big saving grace — there can be no arguments that what took place over the weekend was the best Coca-Cola 600 in many, many years. The surface continues to age beautifully, and the resin treatment was spot on. Speedway Motorsports has been criticized in the past for how it has applied the sticky stuff to its racetracks, with drivers saying it was in the wrong spot, felt like ice, or that they should have been consulted before its application, but this time, whatever Charlotte did with the juice resulted in the entire racetrack being valuable real estate.
Please take note it was resin, not PJ1. There is a difference in that resin is a sticky substance that provides more grip. PJ1 needs to be heat-activated to increase grip. With PJ1, you’re likely to hear drivers complain about how slick it is and can feel like ice. There are times drivers avoid using it because it wasn’t serving its purpose.
But resin has been successful for NASCAR and officials have recently used it more than PJ1. Last year, the resin was chosen in Michigan, Nashville, and Phoenix.
Joey Logano’s spotter Coleman Pressley radioed his driver early in the night and said the “whole track is useable.”
Hot damn it was, and use it all the drivers did.
Charlotte is one race that NASCAR does not need to flaunt its loop data numbers about passing and lead changes. The 3,821 green-flag passes (11.8 per lap) and 64 lead changes sound and read great. But the most important thing is that everyone could see Charlotte was a good race. Viewers could watch groups of drivers racing together with the ability to pass one another.
Kyle Larson proved passing wasn’t an issue because he drove from the rear at least seven times. Kevin Harvick also had to come from behind multiple times. Daniel Suarez had a “rocketship” of a car from Trackhouse Racing and repeatedly found his way to the front after the car faded at one point and then was hobbled by repeatedly slow pit stops; the tough night on pit road was prompted by a poor pit stall position that led to his getting boxed in by those around him.
Yes it was a challenging and drivers were on the edge…but that’s a good thing. Nigel Kinrade/Motorsport Images
Viewers could see drivers being able to run from the white line to the wall. Or how drivers, six of them to be exact, spun by themselves because they stepped over the edge in a car that is not forgiving. Very good race car drivers like champions Kyle Busch and Larson spun by themselves. Many others nearly did the same thing and got out of shape but kept from turning completely around.
The Coca-Cola 600 had a little bit of everything. Passing, drivers spinning by themselves, crashes, the comers and goers. Sure, there were complaints about how long the race is but it doesn’t matter when it’s enjoyable to watch. And fortunately, there were not as many tire failures as might have been expected with what’s been seen this year given how hard the Next Gen car is on rear tires.
Drivers were four-wide for the race lead in overtime. There were routine three-wide passes for position throughout the field.
A week ago in Texas, the racing was terrible and the officiating even worse. Sunday night, though, it wasn’t a Coca-Cola 600 not usually seen and how fantastic that was.