Monday, 20 August, 2018

NASCAR adds fourth stage to Coca-Cola 600

NASCAR adds fourth stage to Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR adds fourth stage to Coca-Cola 600
Rita Gibson | 16 May, 2017, 06:56

The race format for the May 28 Coca-Cola 600 is changing two weeks before the race.

NASCAR announced the addition of a fourth stage to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

By splitting it into four stages of 100 laps apiece, NASCAR has increased the points value of the event.

The race is also worth the most points of any throughout the entire 26-race regular season. The initial schedule released in February noted that the Coca-Cola 600 would be broken up at laps 115 and 230, with the final stage concluding on the 400th lap.

So what does this all mean for the drivers? Drivers nearly universally have praised the new format, as they're now rewarded for their performance throughout a race and their accomplishments during the 26-race regular season (wins, points accumulated) are now applied to the first three playoff rounds. If the driver takes the checkered flag at the end of the 600 miles, they'll take home an additional five playoff points.

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series has made a change to its stage-based race format specifically for its longest race of the year.

"You look at the way Charlotte was laid out and the length of the race, it was just sort of a natural to add another one to break it up a little further and make a few more moments", Scott Miller, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, said in a statement. "The challenge of adjusting to the track surface from hot to cool puts more pressure on crew chiefs and pit crews", said Marcus Smith, president and chief operating officer of Speedway Motorsports, Inc. "The distance is greater".

With the additional stage, the Coca-Cola 600 effectively has a greater impact on the championship than any other regular season race - including the Daytona 500 - as it now awards more points. However, even with the added cautions at this point in the season than in 2016 - 98 compared to 80 - they have lasted an average of 5.5 laps compared to 5.7 past year.

In the three-stage format, the race was divided into 100, 100 and 200 lap stages. This will also be the only race in 2017 to feature more than three stages.

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