The Coca-Cola 600 Sunday evening at Charlotte Motor Speedway is the longest race of the NASCAR Cup Series season in both distance and time.
No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet driver Daniel Suárez will drink lots of liquids, eat well and get plenty of rest in the days approaching the race, but his preparation for 600 miles at Charlotte began long ago with a rigorous workout regimen.
Suárez hopes his physical conditioning will be a key advantage late in the race that begins in sunlight at 6 p.m. ET and ends in late-evening darkness.
It’s a full weekend of practice, qualifying and racing at Charlotte for the Cup teams.
FS1 will broadcast Friday’s practice at 7 p.m. ET as well as Saturday’s qualifying at 11 a.m. Sunday’s race will air on Fox at 6 p.m.
Not only is Sunday an important race in the NASCAR world, but it is also Memorial Day weekend when the industry as well as Suarez’s Trackhouse Racing team honor fallen soldiers.
NASCAR and Coca-Cola will host Gold Star Families, many of whom will have loved ones honored during the annual Memorial Day weekend 600 Miles of Remembrance.
All 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars will feature the name of a fallen service member on the windshield during the race in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Suárez’s No. 99 will carry the name of fallen soldier Joel P. Dameron on its windshield during the race.
Joel P. Dameron
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Military Branch: United States Marine Corps
Base Name: Camp Lejeune
Unit Name: 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force
DOB: 6/1/1978 Hometown: Ellabell, Georgia
DOD: 10/30/2005 Location of Death: Amiriyah, Iraq
Staff Sgt. Dameron was assigned to the 8th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Force Service Support Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and was killed Oct. 30, 2005, by an improvised explosive device while conducting combat operations near Amiriyah, Iraq.
Daniel Suárez, Driver of the No. 99 Camping World Chevrolet Camaro
The Coca-Cola 600 is such a long race. How do you prepare for it?
“As a human being you try and perform at 100 percent the entire time, but when you’re running a marathon you’re not going to be as strong in the last 30 minutes. That’s normal. Fatigue is setting in, your muscles are tired, you’re running out of fluid, and you’re hungry. Racing is the same way, especially in the Coca-Cola 600. We start running out of energy and you’re mind gets tired after four hours of racing. But I look to this race as a marathon and you have to be on top of your game for the last part of this race. So I always try to keep that in my mind when I’m in the car. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
What hurts the most after the Coke 600?
“It’s a combination of things. Your neck is tired, your lower back is tired, legs are tired and you’re just fatigued. You definitely feel it the next morning after a 600-mile race. You feel like you worked out a lot the day before, and you did inside the car. Two-and-a-half of these 600-mile races and I could be home in Monterrey, Mexico. It’s crazy to think of it that way.”
Is it important to stay in shape?
“Working out is a lifestyle for me. I like to feel well and it helps me in the racecar, but it also helps me mentally. You lose a lot of weight in the racecar, and you have to be strong not only at the start of the race, but also at the end of the race. At the end of the day, you don’t win a race at the beginning when everyone is fresh, you win the race at the end when everyone is tired, and I feel like being in shape gives me that advantage at the end.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!