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Charlotte 101: Key times, betting odds, Memorial Day weekend tributes

A highly anticipated weekend of racing caps off with Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway at 6 p.m. ET (FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Before you tune in to the race, check out the details and story lines to watch during the iconic crown jewel.

KEY TIMES, ON-TRACK SESSIONS

An eventful weekend for the Cup Series kicks off on Friday at 7 p.m. ET with the first and only practice session (FS1), followed by qualifying on Saturday at 11:05 a.m. ET (FS1, PRN).

NASCAR RaceDay begins the Sunday pre-race coverage on FS1 at 4:30 p.m. ET before switching over to FOX an hour later. For radio listeners, PRN coverage starts at 5 p.m. ET.

The green flag for Sunday’s 600-mile marathon is scheduled to wave at 6:23 p.m. ET. For this week’s entire slate of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway, check out the full weekend schedule.

RELATED: Charlotte Paint Scheme Preview | Coca-Cola 600 entry list

600 MILES OF REMEMBRANCE

This Memorial Day weekend, NASCAR continues the established NASCAR Salutes tradition of honoring fallen soldiers of the U.S. military with the 600 Miles of Remembrance. During the race, each Cup Series car will feature a unique front-windshield banner that bears the name of one of the soldiers. See the car number and their respective hero being honored at Charlotte.

TICKETS, FAN TIPS

Tickets for general grandstand seating and camping options for attendance this weekend can still be purchased by visiting the Charlotte Motor Speedway event site. Fans who have already purchased tickets are encouraged to stay up-to-date on fan tips and procedures before race day.

WHO’S FAVORED FOR SUNDAY?

The list of favorites to win the 2021 Coca-Cola 600 boasts many familiar faces at the top of the chart, with Kyle Larson leading the field at 5-1. Two-time Coca-Cola 600 winner Martin Truex Jr. (11-2) is joined by a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing teammates in Kyle Busch (13-2) and Denny Hamlin (15-2). Fan-favorite and Larson’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott (7-1) also cracks the top five and presents good value.

What are the odds that your favorite driver reaches Victory Lane this weekend? Check out the complete list of BetMGM Coca-Cola 600 odds.

RELATED: All-time Coca-Cola 600 winners

CHARLOTTE HISTORY, 600 INSIGHTS

— First raced on in June 1960, Charlotte Motor Speedway is the oldest of the current 1.5-mile tracks on the Cup Series Schedule. (Atlanta Motor Speedway held a race one month later.)

— The Coca-Cola 600 is the only race on the schedule with four stages instead of three: Stage 1 at Lap 100, Stage 2 at Lap 200, Stage 3 at Lap 300 and the Final Stage at Lap 400.

— Three of the last five Coca-Cola 600s were won by current Joe Gibbs Racing drivers and two of the last three were won by drivers starting outside the top 10.

— After Brad Keselowski reached Victory Lane in the 2020 Coca-Cola 600, it marked the first 600 win for Ford since Mark Martin won in 2002.

Source: Racing Insights

RELATED: How the Coca-Cola 600 became a NASCAR crown jewel

RULES PACKAGE

The NASCAR rules package for intermediate-sized tracks will be in effect with a tapered spacer used to achieve a target of 550 horsepower. The cars will use aero ducts in addition to other aerodynamic devices to increase downforce.

GOODYEAR TIRE TRIBUTE

As done in years past, Cup teams will run sets of Goodyear “Honor and Remember” Speedway Radials — a special tire marked with a gold star and the slogan in white letters on a red banner. Each team has three sets for practice, one set for qualifying and 13 sets for the race (12 new sets, plus one set transferred from practice or qualifying).

For a race carrying from the early evening into the night, managing tire temperature is important for teams throughout the lengthy race.

“The temperature-sensitive nature of the track surface at Charlotte — as well as starting the race in daylight and ending at night — poses a great challenge for teams as drivers need to convey how the track is changing and crew chiefs need to make changes to stay ahead of those conditions,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “With 13 sets of tires, and the race divided into four stages instead of the ‘normal’ three, teams will constantly be trying to keep up with, or ahead of, the changing conditions.”

FANTASY LIVE

Want to manage a team and race your way to the top of the leaderboards? Check out NASCAR Fantasy Live. The free-to-play game lets you choose your drivers each week and show off your crew-chief instincts. It’s not too late to join in on the competition.

The 2021 Fantasy Live points leaders are Denny Hamlin (597), William Byron (499) and Kyle Larson (483).

ALSO ON NASCAR.COM

Get additional camera views by logging on to NASCAR Drive, where each week a select number of in-car cameras will be available — as well as a battle cam and an overhead look.

New for this season, NASCAR has partnered with LiveLike to add fan engagement in the NASCAR Mobile App. Log in to the mobile app during the race for polls, quizzes, the cheer meter and more — and see instant results from NASCAR fans like you.