Brad Keselowski Wins Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte in Overtime Thriller

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Charlotte Motor Speedway, Charlotte, NC — May 24, 2020

NASCAR took one more step closer to normal with qualifying today prior to the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After drawing starting spots and using race results to determine the lineup for last week’s two Cup events at Darlington Raceway, drivers were happy to have their starting position determined by their own abilities.

Kurt Busch won the pole with a speed of 181.269 mph. He just eclipsed the time of Jimmie Johnson, who will start beside Busch, by .009 of a second. The 600-mile event, held traditionally on the Sunday evening before Memorial Day, is NASCAR’s longest race. Comprising 400 laps around the 1.5 mile Charlotte tri-oval. Stages are 100 laps each with four total instead of the normal three for shorter contests.

Last year’s winner, Martin Truex Jr., will take the green flag in 8th place. Matt DiBenedetto crashed during qualifying and will take his #21 Ford Mustang from Wood Brothers Racing to the rear of the field in their backup car. Four more drivers will start in the rear Aric Almirola, Timmy Hill, Brad Keselowski, Tommy Baldwin, and JJ Yeley, all for unapproved adjustments after qualifying.

The Start

Denny Hamlin lost a block of ballast on the warm-up laps. The Tungsten material is added to the chassis to make the car meet the minimum weight requirements. NASCAR made the team bring their car to the pits and replace the lost component. The race started without the #11 car.

Kurt Busch took the early lead at the drop of the green flag. Hamlin missed the first nine laps as his crew repaired his car. It’s unlikely Wednesday’s Darlington winner will not be donning his smile mask at the end of tonight’s event.

Kurt Busch Drives off into the Lead / NASCAR Photo

A competition caution after 20 laps allowed teams to come to pit road and check tire wear. There was no scheduled practice time prior to the race. Busch led again when the race returned to green. But, 50 laps in rain brought out the red flag and parked the cars on pit road.

The red flag resulted in a 68-minute delay in the race as track crews cleaned up after the brief shower. Back under the caution, everyone opted to pit to get fresh tires and fuel to take them to the end of the Stage.

Alex Bowman took only two tires on the stop and exited the pits with the lead. Which he held until the green and white checkered flag waved. Clint Bowyer lost a tire and hit the wall hard destroying his car.

The accident brought out the yellow flag 4 laps from the end of Stage 1 which ended under the caution flag.

Stage 1 Results

Finish Car Driver
1 88 Alex Bowman
2 19 Martin Truex Jr.
3 9 Chase Elliott
4 8 Tyler Reddick
5 22 Joey Logano*
6 18 Kyle Busch
7 3 Austin Dillon
8 48 Jimmie Johnson
9 24 William Byron
10 1 Kurt Busch

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage 2

Bowman dominated the 2nd Stage leading all but 6 laps as he captured back to back Stage wins. Martin Truex Jr. finished 2nd again to keep the pressure on Bowman.

Bowman Leads / NASCAR Photo

Stage 2 Results

Finish Car Driver
1 88 Alex Bowman
2 19 Martin Truex Jr.
3 18 Kyle Busch
4 24 William Byron
5 9 Chase Elliott
6 20 Erik Jones
7 22 Joey Logano*
8 3 Austin Dillon
9 12 Ryan Blaney*
10 48 Jimmie Johnson

*Ford Mustang Drivers

At the conclusion of the 2nd Stage, the pace car led the entire field down pit road where the cars stopped and shut off their engines. The short break was to remember and honor all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country. Each car in the field carried the name of a Gold Star service member and tributes from the families played during the race.

Stage 3

Bowman again led until Martin Truex Jr. took the top spot 24 laps into the 3rd Stage. Brad Keselowski took the point for a few laps until Truex regained the position after green flag pit stops. Matt Kenseth brought out the 2nd incident related caution of the evening with a spin exiting turn two where he tagged the wall on Lap 275.

During the caution period Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Chase Elliott stayed on the track while the other top contenders pitted for fresh tires. Truex, first out of the pits, restarted 4th. Truex pushed Logano into a clear lead where clean air allowed the Ford Mustang driver from Team Penske to maintain the lead. Bowman passed Truex but was unable to cut into Logano’s lead. It was the first Stage win of the year for Logano.

Stage 3 Results

Finish Car Driver
1 22 Joey Logano*
2 88 Alex Bowman
3 12 Ryan Blaney*
4 48 Jimmie Johnson
5 19 Martin Truex Jr.
6 18 Kyle Busch
7 20 Erik Jones
8 2 Brad Keselowski*
9 3 Austin Dillon
10 24 William Byron

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

Exiting the pits after the Stage ending caution, fast work by the Woods Brothers pit crew on a two-tire stop put the Ford Mustang of Matt DiBenedetto in the lead. Logano, Bowman, Truex, and Kyle Busch followed him to the green flag restart.

Truex pushed DiBenedetto clear of the chaos behind them and the pair swapped the lead for a couple of laps until Truex four fresh tires won out. When the race sorted out to a lengthy green flag run the top 5 were Truex, Jimmie Johnson, Bowman, Brad Keselowski, and William Byron.

As teams planned their final pit stop strategy, Joey Gase spun in Turn 4 with 52 laps to go. Everyone pitted for fuel and fresh tires. Jimmie Johnson exited in first with Keselowski in 2nd, Truex 3rd, Elliott 4th, and Byron 5th. Logano was too fast exiting pit road and was dropped from the 10th position to the rear of the lead lap, 20th.

The Finish

After a mad scramble on the restart Keselowski, who started at the rear of the field, was the leader. For the second race in a row, Elliott was running second. With 37 laps to go, Elliott moved to the front. Where was Kyle Busch who ruined Elliott’s night Wednesday in Darlington? He was stuck in 8th place.

With 25 laps to go, Elliott had built a one-second lead over Keselowski. Elliott built the lead as the laps wound down. Then with two laps to go, Byron cut down a left rear tire and spun out bringing out the caution flag and sending the race into NASCAR overtime.

Elliott gave up the lead to come to pit road for 4 tires. Keselowski stayed out and as did nine others. Elliott, first off, restarted in 11th. Keselowski, Johnson, Bowman, Ryan Blaney, and Austin Dillon led the field into overtime. Johnson pushed Keselowski clear of the pack scrambling behind them, but could not get in a position to pass. Michigan’s Brad Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 for his first victory in the classic 600-mile event, which set the record for the longest race in NASCAR history. The 405 laps equaled 607 miles of grueling racing.

Chase Elliott fought his way back into the 3rd position. but for the second time in less than a week he leaves the racetrack feeling snakebit.

Results of the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway

Position Car Driver Behind Laps
1 2 Brad Keselowski 405
2 48 Jimmie Johnson 0.293 405
3 9 Chase Elliott 0.674 405
4 12 Ryan Blaney 1.218 405
5 18 Kyle Busch 1.465 405
6 4 Kevin Harvick 1.625 405
7 19 Martin Truex Jr. 1.817 405
8 1 Kurt Busch 1.823 405
9 8 Tyler Reddick 1.894 405
10 95 Christopher Bell 2.272 405
11 20 Erik Jones 2.401 405
12 17 Chris Buescher 2.402 405
13 41 Cole Custer 2.821 405
14 22 Joey Logano 3.023 405
15 3 Austin Dillon 3.217 405
16 10 Aric Almirola 3.492 405
17 38 John Hunter Nemechek 3.558 405
18 21 Matt DiBenedetto 3.869 405
19 34 Michael McDowell 3.908 405
20 88 Alex Bowman 3.939 405
21 24 William Byron -1 404
22 77 Ross Chastain -2 403
23 37 Ryan Preece -2 403
24 32 Corey LaJoie -2 403
25 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -3 402
26 13 Ty Dillon -4 401
27 42 Matt Kenseth -4 401
28 6 Ryan Newman -5 400
29 96 Daniel Suarez -6 399
30 11 Denny Hamlin -7 398
31 15 Brennan Poole -7 398
32 27 Gray Gaulding -8 397
33 78  BJ McLeod -12 393
34 53 Garrett Smithley -14 391
35 66 Timmy Hill -15 390
36 0 Quin Houff -15 390
37 51 Joey Gase -20 385
38 7 JJ Yeley -154 251
39 43 Bubba Wallace -241 164
40 14 Clint Bowyer -309 96