In what’s been a most unusual season, NASCAR returned to some semblance of tradition with events at Charlotte Motor Speedway around Memorial Day this week.
Brad Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, and now the Alsco Uniforms 500 is on tap for Thursday, May 28 (7 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM). As with the two events at Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600, fans will not be in attendance Thursday, and only essential personnel will be permitted on site as NASCAR eases back into competition after the COVID-19 shutdown.
Here’s a primer with helpful information for tonight’s race.
Charlotte Motor Speedway is a 1.5-mile track that opened to host its first NASCAR event in 1960. The venue’s most recent repave was completed in 2006.
The track features a D-shaped layout, with a dogleg on the 1,980-foot frontstretch. All four turns are banked 24 degrees. Both the frontstretch and the 1,500-foot back straightaway have 5-degree banking.
Tonight’s race will be the 122nd for NASCAR’s top division on the 1.5-mile speedway. The facility has also hosted two races on a combination oval and road course layout.
Joe Lee Johnson won NASCAR’s first 600-mile race in the track’s debut, notching the last of his two career wins. He prevailed by a margin of four laps in a race that took five hours, 34 minutes to complete.
RELATED: Patriotic honors for 600
Sunday, May 24: Stage 1 is set to end at Lap 100, Stage 2 at Lap 200, Stage 3 at Lap 300, and the final stage slated to conclude on Lap 400.
Thursday, May 28: Stage 1 is set to end at Lap 55, Stage 2 on Lap 115, with the full distance set for Lap 208.
Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 was held without practice, but same-day Busch Pole Qualifying took place with Kurt Busch winning the pole.
Neither practice nor qualifying will be held for Thursday’s 500-kilometer event as NASCAR tries to minimize exposure for on-site personnel in the interest of public health. Thursday’s lineup was determined by an inversion of the first 20 finishers from the Coca-Cola 600, then 21st on back in order. See full lineup.
See the full breakdown here detailing lineup procedures for all three NASCAR national series under the condensed race-day procedures.
The 2020 NASCAR rules package for intermediate-sized tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to set a target of 550 horsepower. The cars will use aero ducts in addition to other aerodynamic devices to increase downforce.
MORE: Full Charlotte schedule
Each team will get one set of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Radials for Coca-Cola 600 qualifying and 12 sets for the race. The qualifying set can also be transferred over to the race for a 13th set. For the Alsco Uniforms 500, each team will get seven sets.
“While Charlotte is not necessarily considered a high tire wear track, it is one of the most temperature sensitive tracks we race on,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “The Coca-Cola 600 starts during the day and ends at night under the lights, combined with the fact that teams have a large number of sets of tires to go the 400 laps, making this event one that truly highlights the team aspect of our sport.”
Since 2010, for one weekend per NASCAR season, Goodyear has changed the branding on the sidewall of its racing tires in a show of support for the United States military and fallen heroes. This being the 11th year of that program, the official tire supplier to NASCAR’s top three series will work with the “Honor and Remember” organization for the second straight year. The standard “Eagle” on the tires’ sidewall will be replaced by the Honor and Remember logo on all Cup and Xfinity tires at Charlotte Motor Speedway this May.
STATS TO KNOW
— Kevin Harvick, a two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner, emerged from the Darlington Raceway twin bill with his first victory of the season and a third-place finish. He entered Charlotte Motor Speedway’s pair of events as the only driver to net six top-10 results in all six Cup Series races this year, a consistency that has earned him the circuit’s points lead. (UPDATE: That streak continued with a fifth-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600.)
— Toyota drivers have won four of the last five 600-milers at Charlotte. Martin Truex Jr. has a pair of those victories (2016, 2019) and Carl Edwards (2015) and Kyle Busch (2018) have the others. (UPDATE: Keselowski won in a Ford on Sunday night, ending a long streak for that manufacturer, as detailed below.)
— NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip heads the Coca-Cola 600’s all-time win list with a record five victories (1978-79, 1985, 1988-89). Among active drivers, seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson leads with four 600 wins (2003-05, 2014).
— Joe Gibbs Racing has the most wins since the start of the 2019 season with 21. Denny Hamlin leads JGR over that span with eight victories, including Wednesday’s win at Darlington.
Source: NASCAR statistics, Racing Insights
Tune in to television coverage from Charlotte Motor Speedway on FOX (Sunday, 6 p.m. ET), FS1 (Thursday, 8 p.m. ET) and the FOX Sports App both days. For full radio coverage, listen in to PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on-air.
RELATED: Ways to follow the races
For a more interactive experience, head over to NASCAR.com or the NASCAR app to check out an enhanced Race Center, live Lap-by-Lap coverage, the customizable live leaderboard with Scanner (which is FREE for both races), and the return of Drive (featuring in-car cameras).
2019 RACE WINNER
Martin Truex Jr. closed out the 600-mile endurance challenge with a bold four-wide pass in the 396th of 400 laps to net his second win in the Memorial Day classic. Truex recovered from a scrape of the Turn 4 wall late in Stage 1, then held off Joey Logano at the checkered flag by .330 seconds.
RELATED: 2019 Coca-Cola 600 recap
The Charlotte track’s Thursday race is a first-time event on the Cup Series schedule.
ACTIVE CHARLOTTE WINNERS
(oval track only)
Jimmie Johnson (eight); Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick (three each); Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski (two); Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, (one each).