Motorsport News

The End of the Coca-Cola 600 Was Weird

Nascar Cup Series

Sunday night (May 26) brought the NASCAR Cup Series back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for what was supposed to be 600 miles of action.

Or, as FOX refers to it, “600 Miles of Remembrance.” That didn’t come to pass.

As we know, the race was ultimately declared complete after 249 laps were logged. The race was originally red-flagged due to lightning. That lightning eventually became heavy rain.

The rain moved out, and NASCAR put out the track-drying equipment in order to get the surface ready for racing. However, the call was made at 11:30 p.m. ET that the humidity was too high to get it dry in a reasonable amount of time, knowing that there was at least 90 minutes of racing remaining.

I’ve covered one Coca-Cola 600 for Frontstretch, and it was 96 degrees the day of the race. I’ve also covered six July races at Daytona International Speedway for the site, three of which were delayed by rain (one, the 2014 race, was rain-shortened). I get the idea of humidity plaguing track-drying efforts. It was probably so humid out there Sunday night that you would have broken out in a sweat as soon as you walked outside.

Since the lightning stopped the race, FOX’s red-flag coverage was extremely limited. Hard to do much when everyone has to take shelter. FOX aired interviews with Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski and Tyler Reddick, among others, via Zoom. The Bell interview was rather sketchy since he was on his pit box. Is that considered to be a “safe place” during a lightning delay? I wouldn’t think so.

FOX replayed a feature on Thomas Kennedy, the former member of the military whose name was on the windshield of Bell’s car, that had originally aired on NASCAR RaceDay. Since the UFL game between the Michigan Panthers and Houston Roughnecks went long by 17 minutes, FOX joined the broadcast in the middle of the feature. Those who do not have FOX Sports 1 could not have seen the full piece when it originally aired.

Afterward, they broke away to NASCAR RaceHub: Best of Radioactive. The plan, according to Shannon Spake, was to air that until midnight ET with periodic check-ins for updates.

At 11:30 p.m. ET, they came back to Charlotte for an update, in which Mike Joy gave a fairly long explanation, then said that the race was called and Bell won. This struck me as strange at the time. I didn’t realize just how strange it was.

They brought Bell back on the broadcast for his victory lane interview, and he looked…

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