Hamlin Holds off Busch to Win a Chaotic Coke 600

Hamlin Holds off Busch to Win a Chaotic Coke 600

In the last few years, the 1.5-mile oval tracks have produced their fair share of lackluster races. While the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motorspeedway is a crown jewel of the sport, it was not an exception to the trend of less-than-entertaining races. This was made even more noticible due to the fact that it’s the longest race of the season. However, this year was different – it was exciting, action-packed, and drama-filled. At times, it felt like the drivers were racing at a short track due to slingshot passing and slidejobs; while other times, it felt like a superspeedway with large wrecks.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The NEXT-Gen car has saved mile-and-a-half tracks.

LAP 1: Denny Hamlin led the field to the green flag from the pole position, with teammate Kyle Busch starting behind in 4th place. Busch pushed Hamlin out to the lead, before passing him a few laps later and sailing away with the top spot.

CAUTION – LAP 17: The first caution of the day came out for the #15 of Ryan Preece, who got loose in Turn 4 and spun. The #17 of Chris Buescher checked up to avoid the #15 but ended up spinning in sync with Preece. Neither car sustained any damage, aside from flat-spotted tires.

CAUTION – LAP 32: The #77 of Josh Bilicki spun by himself in Turn 3, bringing out another caution.  Kyle Larson had made his way up to the Top 10 after starting in the back due to a wreck in practice. Larson’s efforts were futile as the Hendrick driver received a penalty for removing equipment from his pit stall and was sent to the rear once again.

CAUTION – LAP 45: While battling with Daniel Suarez for the lead, Kyle Busch got loose against the wall and spun down the backstretch. Luckily for him, Busch did not sustain any damage and was able to continue racing.

CAUTION – LAP 60: The #7 of Corey Lajoie made heavy contact with the wall after blowing a rear tire. His Chevrolet was badly damaged, causing him to retire from the race early. Larson was once again penalized for equipment interference and had to restart from the back of the field. When the race restarted, the #9 of Chase Elliott took the lead from Suarez.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 100: Chase Elliott won the stage and collected the playoff point. Behind him, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, and Bubba Wallace rounded out the Top 5 and earned points as well. Elliott remained in the lead during pit stops under caution but was passed by Ross Chastain after the restart.

CAUTION – LAP 125: Coming out of Turn 4, the #23 of Bubba Wallace spun by himself through the infield and brought out the 6th yellow flag.

CAUTION – LAP 145: Rookie and Daytona 500 winner, Austin Cindric, suffered a flat right-rear tire which caused his #2 Ford Mustang to spin backwards. His car collided with the outside wall in Turn 4 and he was out of the race following the incident.

CAUTION – LAP 165: Kyle Larson’s bad luck continued when he spun by himself in Turn 4 while trying to race his way through the field for a third time. The yellow flag was shown as Larson’s #5 Chevrolet Camaro spun into the grass.

CAUTION – LAP 186: While racing for the 2nd position, Chase Elliott drifted up the track and made light contact with the outside SAFER barrier. The seemingly innocent brush with the wall broke the right-rear toe link and the caution came out when Elliott spun trying to get to pit road. The #9 team made repairs, however, the 6-minute Damaged Vehicle repair clock ran out before Elliott could make minimum speed, meaning he was forced to retire from the race.

CAUTION – LAP 191: On the restart, Ryan Blaney got too low in Turn 1 causing his splitter to touch the apron. His #12 Ford Mustang snapped to the right, spun sideways, and collected a dozen cars including William Byron, Kurt Busch, and Bubba Wallace, all of whom retired from the race.

Daniel Suarez passed his teammate, Ross Chastain, on the restart to take the lead.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 200: Suarez hung on to win his second stage of the season and pick up the much-needed playoff point. Behind him, Chastain, Erik Jones, Chase Briscoe, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr rounded out the Top 5 at the end of the segment.

CAUTION – LAP 219: Similar to Kyle Busch earlier in the race, Kevin Harvick got loose while racing against Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Harvick spun and brought out the 13th caution flag of the night. Chastain swapped places with Suarez again and retook the top spot.

CAUTION – LAP 253: Noah Gragson in the #16 Chevrolet spun by himself in Turn 4. He did not hit any other driver or sustain any damage from the incident.

STAGE 3 END – LAP 300: Ross Chastain won the stage, followed by Chase Briscoe, Kyle Larson, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Suarez. Chastain managed to retain the lead during pit stops and the restart to begin the final stage.

CAUTION – LAP 339: The 16th caution of the race was shown due to debris from the #8 of Tyler Reddick. He had radioed to his team several laps prior that he had a vibration in the car, but they opted to leave him out on the racetrack. Eventually, Reddick blew a tire and dropped debris.

CAUTION – LAP 345: Just a lap after the restart, the #14 of Chase Briscoe got into the back of Daniel Suarez in the #99. Suarez bobbled, trying to hold the car straight, but ended up spinning and collecting the #17 of Chris Buescher. The latter was sent sailing into the infield grass, where his right-front tire broke off and dug into the turf. This propelled the car into the air where it barrell-rolled numerous times before finally coming to a stop on it’s roof. The race was red-flagged as crews worked to turn the car right-side-up and allow Buescher to exit. The driver was checked and released from the infield care center without injuries.

When the race restarted, it was Kyle Larson and Chase Briscoe in P1 and P2 respectively. Larson initally checked out with the lead, but in time, Briscoe hunted him down.

CAUTION – LAP 398: With just 2 laps to go in the scheduled distance, Briscoe made a bold attempt to pass Larson for the top spot. Briscoe got loose when he got beside Larson and spun in Turn 1, bringing out the 19th caution and sending the race into overtime.

CAUTION – LAP 404: As the field came through Turns 3 and 4 coming to the white flag, the Top 7 drivers made a mad dash for the lead. This resulted in another major wreckm which took out all those at the front including Kyle Larson, Ross Chastain, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano, Cole Custer, and others. This triggered the 20th and final caution of the day and sent the race into a second attempt at overtime.

Teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch found themselves in the front row for the restart.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 413: Denny Hamlin crossed the line just 0.119 seconds ahead of Busch to claim his second win of the season and his first Coke 600 victory.

RESULTS:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Kyle Busch
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Chase Briscoe
  5. Christopher Bell
  6. Tyler Reddick
  7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  8. Michael McDowell
  9. Kyle Larson
  10. Alex Bowman
  11. Harrison Burton
  12. Martin Truex Jr
  13. Ty Dillon
  14. Erik Jones
  15. Ross Chastain
  16. Todd Gilliand
  17. Aric Almirola
  18. Cody Ware
  19. BJ McLeod
  20. Joey Logano
  21. Cole Custer
  22. Austin Dillon
  23. Kaz Grala
  24. Noah Gragson
  25. Daniel Suarez
  26. Chris Buescher
  27. Justin Haley
  28. Bubba Wallace
  29. Ryan Blaney
  30. Brad Keselowski
  31. Kurt Busch
  32. William Byron
  33. Chase Elliott
  34. Austin Cindric
  35. Corey Lajoie
  36. Josh Bilicki
  37. Ryan Preece
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