The Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway provided its share of drama late. Late in the race and late Sunday night/Monday morning. Mid-way through the second of four 100 lap stages a one hour and 40-minute rain delay halted action on the track. Once racing resumed attrition narrowed the field of many top contenders. Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch battled for the lead most of the night. Truex led 233 laps while Busch was out front for 63 circuits of the 1.5-mile track. Until the final caution of the evening brought both leaders to pit road on lap 368.
Eight drivers stayed out opting to take a chance of going the distance by saving fuel. Last year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson led a high-stakes trio. Johnson led, Austin Dillon, and Joey Logano traded spots at the front of the pack. Johnson and Logano ran out of gas. Dillon squeezed out enough fuel economy to finish eight-tenths of a second ahead of Busch. Truex, last year’s 600 winner, came in third.
The Fords of Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick finished in the top 10. Busch took sixth and Harvick eights. However, Harvick is sure to face a penalty for missing a lug nut during post-race inspection.
The Blue Oval points leader, Brad Keselowski, third in the playoff standings crashed on lap 20. Jeffery Earnhardt dumped gear oil on the track when his car’s rear end failed. Chase Elliott ran over debris and ripped open an oil line. His car caught fire and slowed. Keselowski hit the oil, lost control, and slammed into the back of
The Blue Oval points leader, Brad Keselowski, third in the playoff standings crashed on lap 20. Jeffery Earnhardt dumped gear oil on the track when his car’s rear end failed. Chase Elliott ran over debris and ripped open an oil line. His car caught fire and slowed. Keselowski hit the oil, lost control, and slammed into the back of Elliott’s car. Kyle Larson crashed out of the event on lap 293, hitting the outside wall hard. Larson’s 33rd place finish surrendered the playoff points lead to Martin Truex Jr.
Despite his 39th place finish, Keselowski held onto third in the playoff standings behind new leader Truex Jr. and Larson. Harvick currently sits fourth with Clint Bowyer ninth and Logano 10th. Three more Fords, Ryan Blaney, Rickey Stenhouse Jr. and Kurt Busch set 12th through 14th. With Trevor Bayne holding the 16th and final playoff spot.
Next Sunday the series visits the Monster Mile at Dover, Delaware. The AAA 400 Drive for Autism will likely scramble the season long points standings. The action kicks off at 1 pm.