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The Longest Races in NASCAR History

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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It’s that time again: time to do another NASCAR list. Today we’re taking a look at some of the longest races in NASCAR history. Now, we don’t mean in terms of mileage. Every NASCAR fan worth their salt knows that the Coke 600 is the longest race because it’s 600 miles long. But what we’re talking about today is the longest race in terms of runtime. Some of these races resulted in a very long day of racing. Others lasted for days or even weeks. Yeah, weeks! It’s crazy to think about! But without further ado, here are just 5 of the longest races in NASCAR history. Let’s check it out.

2005 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

With the Coca-Cola 600 because the longest NASCAR race in terms of mileage, at least a couple of them are going to show up on this list. This 2005 race is often remembered for being the last time we would ever see Bobby Labonte competing for a win. This was towards the end of Labonte’s competitive career and his stint at Joe Gibbs Racing as he would be replaced for the following season by JJ Yeley who would also ultimately get replaced by Kyle Busch.

The finish of this race is a classic for sure as it ended in a photo finish with Charlotte ace, Jimmie Johnson in a heartbreaking loss akin to Mark Martin’s 2007 defeat in the Daytona 500. But what lands this race on this list? The record-shattering number of cautions. There were 22 cautions thrown for incidents in this event which is the standing record in the NASCAR Cup Series. And while many fans were no doubt jaded and just wanted to go home, they were rewarded for all that delay with this humdinger of a finish. In the video below posted by NASCAR, you can relive that historic race finish. Check it out.

2019 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Runtime: 4 hours, 50 minutes)

The 2019 Coca-Cola 600 ran for nearly 5 hours. Actual coverage of the race exceeded 5 hours. What lands the race on this list? The sheer mileage of it and there were also a healthy chunk of cautions at 16. There was also a red flag for incident but that lasted only about two minutes.

Martin Truex Jr. would win the race, holding off Joey Logano as he took his third win on the season.

1952 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway (Runtime: 6 hours, 42 minutes)

When Darlington Raceway was first built, it was considered to be the stock car version of Indianapolis. Like when CART took to Michigan to boycott the IRL and the Indy 500, NASCAR wanted the Darlington race to be 500 miles as well. Today, fans wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the 1950s, NASCAR was in its infancy. Basically, the Strictly Stock division (the precursor to today’s NASCAR Cup Series) took stock cars right off the showroom floor, put numbers on them, the driver’s names, and they drove them straight to the track to race. They were street cars…which meant that the average speed of this race was a staggeringly slow 72 miles-per-hour. For three Southern 500’s in a row starting in 1950 through 1952 (the longest of the bunch) it would take over 6 hours to complete the race at such speeds. The 1950 and 1951 Southern 500s lasted 6 hours, 38 minutes and 6 hours, 30 minutes respectively.

Fonty Flock would go on to win the 1952 Southern 500. That’s his No. 14 car up above. Down below is a neat little video NASCAR All-Out made.

2020 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway (Runtime: 72+ Hours)

2020 was a bad year for everybody. The world shut down and it was just a mess. NASCAR was the first sport to actually return, albeit without fans. This meant that NASCAR would have to get a bit creative with its schedule. The changes made are often seen as the catalyst to today’s shift towards road courses as the Daytona road course was used in a points-paying event. It also opened up the idea of a traveling All-Star race as 2020’s All-Star race would be held at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time.

But by the late fall, things schedule-wise were starting to get back to normal…until the playoff Texas race. This is the first of 2 races on this list that was plagued by rain to a ridiculous degree. This race was scheduled to run on Sunday, October 25th, 2020. Rain washed it out. So, it was moved to the following Monday. Again, rain washed it out. Surely it would happen again on Tuesday, right? But it did. The race did not finish until the following Wednesday, October 28th.

This meant that Clint Bowyer led a NASCAR Cup Series race for around 72 hours. One would think that would be some kind of record right? Well, it’s not. More on that later. Unfortunately, Bowyer would not win. Kyle Busch would win the race and NASCAR FINALLY got to throw that checkered flag on a bitter Wednesday afternoon.

1973 Southeastern 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Runtime: 2 weeks)

This is, without a doubt, the longest race in NASCAR history. The race would begin as scheduled on March 11th but would only run 52 laps that day and rain sat in. It rained on Monday. It rained on Tuesday. This forced NASCAR to do something unprecedented: they rescheduled the race for the off weekend in two weeks’ time.

Cale Yarborough, driving for Junior Johnson’s famed No. 11 team, would qualify on the pole and lead all 52 of those laps. He led the race for a historic TWO WEEKS. When the race resumed on March 25th, he led the rest of the way. In dominating fashion, Cale Yarborough led all 500 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway in the time span of two weeks and won the race by 2-laps. Inanity!

What do you think, Daily Downforce readers? Did I miss any races? Can you believe that one man led a race for a whopping two weeks? Let us know your thoughts on all of our socials and keep it right here at the Daily Downforce for all your latest NASCAR news stories and discussions.

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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