The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway has many obstacles that can test even the toughest driver.
There’s the extended distance of 600 miles, the additional strain on themselves and their equipment, the pressure to perform on the home track for many in the stock car industry, and the track conditions that can change as race day becomes race night.
Put it all together and it doesn’t seem like there’s really a point in trying to determine which side of NASCAR’s longest race is tougher – the physical or the mental.
Either way, it’s going to take a lot of you.
“The way our cars are set up inside, you have your seat and headrest to help support you throughout these long races, so physically you don’t get very tired – hopefully,” Joey Logano explained in today’s NASCAR teleconference. “Obviously, mentally it’s very straining because you’re in there for four-plus hours running 600 miles at 200 miles an hour.
“It’s mentally straining and it’s very hot in these cars – especially when you’re going into the summer – so the heat takes a toll and it eventually mentally gets you, so you have to physically prepare to be mentally prepared during the race.
“It’s not just the driver, it’s the car and the motor, putting that extra 100 miles on that you typically don’t in a normal race weekend makes it a lot tougher.”
However, Logano appreciates the overall challenge of the 600 enough that he isn’t about to possibly help himself out by calling for it to go to a more standard 500-mile race.
“[600 miles is] the thing that makes it kind of our crown jewel event,” the Team Penske driver said. “That’s the longest race we have of the year – and it feels like it, believe me – but it definitely makes it very rewarding.
“Now if we had to run 600 miles every week, I may have a different answer for you, but the fact that it’s only once a year kind of makes it unique and makes it a fun race…A lot of people put a lot of effort into winning this race, just like they would at Daytona or Indy. I feel like this is next in line behind those two.”
Logano has never won at Charlotte in his Sprint Cup career, but if his 1.5-mile work so far this year is any indication, he’ll have a chance to correct that problem. In three 1.5-mile events this season, he’s earned one win at Texas and a pair of fourths at Las Vegas and Kansas.