Charlotte: Memorial tradition preview

Holiday special: Coca-Cola 600 a much-anticipated seasonal rite, part of NASCAR lore DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 24, 2005) -- In the same way that the Memorial Day weekend celebrates a much-loved holiday, the Coca-Cola 600 weekend at Lowe's Motor...

Holiday special: Coca-Cola 600 a much-anticipated seasonal rite, part of NASCAR lore

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 24, 2005) -- In the same way that the Memorial Day weekend celebrates a much-loved holiday, the Coca-Cola 600 weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway celebrates one of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series' most exciting events.

Since 2002, the Coca-Cola 600 has been the most-watched auto race on television during Memorial Day weekend. It's a historic event at a marquee venue, drama that begins in daylight and unfolds under glittering lights; also the race where Dale Earnhardt made his first series start, and where three other series champions -- Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet), Matt Kenseth (No. 17 DEWALT Power Tools Ford) and Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) -- earned their first series victories.

And because the Coca-Cola 600 has been a destination for the sport's elite since its 1960 debut, the 2005 race is no different.

A few plotlines heading toward Sunday afternoon's green flag:

Can defending champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet) add a third consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victory?

Hint: It's never been done.

Can Mark Martin (No. 6 Viagra Ford) or Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) triumph in their last Coca-Cola 600 appearance? Both are in their final NASCAR NEXTEL Cup seasons, and Martin has the momentum from winning last week's non-points precursor, the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge.

Hint: Martin won the 2002 Coca-Cola 600; Wallace won the 1990 edition.

Will Lowe's Motor Speedway's new qualifying record stand more than one week? During last week's session for the Nextel Open (the preliminary event for drivers not qualified for the NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge), Mike Bliss (No. 0 NetZero/Best Buy Chevrolet) broke Lowe's record with a lap of 189.208 mph. That's the mark to beat Thursday, when drivers qualify for the Coca-Cola 600.

"Absolutely, I think we'll see for sure a new track record," said Greg Biffle (No. 16 National Guard/ Charter Ford), citing the difference between regular qualifying and all-star qualifying (which includes a pit stop). "The lap of (all-star) qualifying that we did was about 2/10ths under the practice record. So it will definitely be broken, that's for sure, guaranteed, and by a lot, I bet. It's going to be pretty fast."

-nascar-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Jimmie Johnson , Mike Bliss , Mark Martin