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NASCAR Notebook: Most drivers want NASCAR's longest race to remain 600 miles

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Denny Hamlin walks to his car before a practice session Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. [AP Photo/Chuck Burton]
Denny Hamlin walks to his car before a practice session Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. [AP Photo/Chuck Burton]

CONCORD, N.C. — With a furrowed brow NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip scoffed at the notion that the Coca-Cola 600 race is too long and should be shortened by, say, maybe a hundred miles or so.

"Is that what some thirty-something said?" the 72-year-old Waltrip said to The Associated Press.

Well, as a matter of fact...

It was 38-year-old Denny Hamlin who recently suggested that NASCAR should shorten its longest race because nobody — at least not the friends that he knows — wants to sit and watch stock cars race around an oval 400 times for nearly five hours.

But Waltrip, a five-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600, said that would be a mistake.

"It's a tough race, it's a grueling race," Waltrip said. "It takes a long time to run this race. But it's iconic. It's the only one we have. Our sport is definitely in a tailspin if we ever do away with the Coke 600, I will tell you that."

Waltrip is getting plenty of support in the garage.

Joey Logano said he gets a little angry when people suggest the race many refer to as the crown jewel of NASCAR should be shortened.

"This is a special race, this is the Coca-Cola 600," Logano said.

NASCAR has shortened some races, including at Pocono.

But to defending champion Kyle Busch, changing the 600 wouldn't be right.

"I think it brings a different aspect to our sport — it's longevity," Busch said.

One thing everyone can agree on — the race is a grind.

Keselowski said the biggest advice he would give young drivers is to "drink water."

And Sunday is expected to be no exception, with temperatures likely reaching the mid-90s in the late afternoon when a heatwave hits the Carolinas.

Tyler Reddick powers to Xfinity race victory

Tyler Reddick won the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday after taking the lead for good on a restart with 15 laps to go.

The defending Xfinity champion led 110 of 200 laps to win for the second time this season and the second time in three races. He finished more than two seconds ahead of Justin Allgaier. Jeffrey Earnhardt was third, followed by Noah Gragson and Justin Haley.

Reddick, a 23-year-old in his first season with Richard Childress Racing, had had eight consecutive top four finishes.

On a hot, humid afternoon where several competitors including lap leaders Christopher Bell — a Norman native — and Brandon Jones were sliding into the wall, Reddick kept himself cool and collected.

Reddick figured to get a challenge from Bell, who won the pole by nearly two-tenths of a second and looked like a strong bet to win his second straight Xfinity race and fourth of the season. Bell took the opening stage and was running strongly until things went wrong at the end of the race's second segment as he hit the wall in turn four while running second and damaged his right front tire. Bell stayed out on the track despite losing track position as his tire shredded and caught fire in the pits.

Bell hurried out of his car as his tire burned. The car went behind the wall for good.

Wire reports

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COCA-COLA 600

When: 5 p.m., Sunday

Where: Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, N.C.

TV: FOX (Cox 12/HD 712, Dish 25, DirecTV 25, U-verse 25/1025)

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