Brad Keselowski (2) won his first race of the season at the Coca-Cola 600, in Concord, North Carolina after holding off Jimmie Johnson (48) and Chase Elliott (9) for the victory in a green, white, checkered finish capping off a six hour race. Kurt Busch (1) was dominating the first 51 laps before a rain delay in which he lost all momentum and he never recovered afterwards. Fast forward to the end of the race where Elliott was in his own time zone until William Byron (24) spun out with 3 laps to go forcing a 2 lap overtime, to make matters worse, #9’s crew-chief, Alan Gustafson made a questionable call to pit for all new tires and gas, a disgruntled Elliott didn’t restart from the front and couldn’t make up the difference in overtime. Perhaps Jimmie Johnson who “temporarily” clocked in with a second place finish got the worse punishment after his car failed a post race inspection that ended up in a disqualification landing him at the 40th spot. If you thought that was crazy, a piece of tungsten fell out of Denny Hamlin’s (11) car before the race resulting in three of his pit-crew serving a four race suspension. This was a bounce back race for many as well, Ryan Blaney (12) who has struggled since the start of the season finished strong in 3rd place, another underperformer, Kyle Busch (18) worked his way up from outside the top 10 to a 4th place finish and last Sunday’s Darlington winner, Kevin Harvick (4) rounded out the top 5.
Stage 1 & 2: (100 laps each)
Kurt Busch (1) started on the pole and plowed through the asphalt during the first 50 laps of the race before the rain paused the race for roughly an hour and a half. On the restart, it was Alex Bowman (88) leading the pack after a quick two tire pit stop, Chase Elliott (9), Martin Truex Jr (19), Tyler Reddick (8) and Kurt Busch (1) round out the top 5. Shortly after, Clint Bowyer (14) hit the wall with 4 laps left setting his car up in smoke and sparks leaving a clear path for Alex Bowman (88) to win Stage 1. He would continue his dominance throughout Stage 2 despite little bumps in the road when Bubba Wallace (43) lost his breaks at the beginning of the stage but avoided a caution. Last year's winner, Martin Truex Jr. (19) made it interesting but simply couldn’t catch up to the “88 Machine” who finished a full 3 seconds ahead, Kyle Busch (18) in 3rd, William Byron (24) in 4th and Chase Elliott (9) in 5th. At the end of Stage 2, in honor of Memorial Day, there was a moment of silence to thank the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military.
Stage 3 & 4: (100 laps each)
Finally some action, after Bowman (88) led the race for over 160 laps, if felt like an eternity, Truex Jr. (19) made the move on the inside to pass him on lap 224, the lead wouldn’t last as Joey Logano (22) won Stage 3 after lighting fast pit stops and working his way up from 7th, not a bad birthday gift from his fellow drivers. Late in the stage, Ryan Newman (6) fell 4 laps down for a battery change ultimately squashing his chances for a victory. Truex Jr. (19) continued to slip back as Bowman (88), Blaney (12) and Johnson (48) all passed him resulting in a Stage 3 5th place finish. To begin Stage 4, Logano battled for the lead with Matt DiBenedetto (21) coming all the way up from 33rd shocking many. The lead lasted a whopping 4 laps as Truex Jr. (19) regained the lead passing the underdog on the outside. Matt Kenseth (42) finished 10th last Sunday, not so lucky this week as he slammed into the wall on lap 276 ending his chances, Joey Gase (51) also got the crash bug and spun out with 52 laps remaining. That crash led to a nice battle between Johnson (48) and Keselowski (2) for the lead, eventually Keselowski pulled away. It wouldn’t take long for Elliott (9) to sneak up on the inside to take his first lead of the race. He was looking for redemption after suffering a brutal loss last Wednesday as Kyle Busch (18) made contact with him a few laps before the race was cancelled due to rain otherwise Camaro #9 would have had a top 5 finish. Elliot (9) had this week’s race in the bag as he was far ahead during the last 30 laps, nothing could have stopped him outside of a caution. With a mere 3 laps remaining, Willam Bryon (24) loses control of his car and spins out, sending us to overtime.
Green, White, Checkered (2 laps OT)
Elliott (9) was still the favorite heading into the final 2 laps, surely he would continue his drive to take the checkered flag home, well crew-chief, Alan Gustafson had other ideas which resulted in a shouting match over the microphone between the two, fast forward to Elliott (9) eventually giving up his first place spot to the “pit of shame.” On to the next story, the first lap Keselowski (2) blew by Johnson (48), meanwhile, Bowman (88) got sucked up the middle of the pack ending in a frustrating and dismissal 19th place. Johnson (48) was on Keselowski’s (2) bumper down the back straightaway but once the Mustang #2 came off turn 3 there was no going back as Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 for the first time in his career and Team Penske picked up their third win of this short season.
This is Keselowski’s first win in over a year as he won the Digital Ally 400 at Kansas Speedway back in May 2019. He tallied 44 points for the chase but Kyle Busch finished with the most points this race with 52. We should recognize how great of a driver Kyle Busch truly is, he will become the first driver in Nascar history to race all seven Nascar National Series races over the next 11 days at Darlington Raceway and Charlotte Motor Speedway (includes Xfinity Series and the Nascar Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series) - born to ride. Tomorrow’s race will be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NC. Afterwards, we are going from the longest race to the shortest race as next Sunday the drivers will duke it out at Bristol Motor Speedway, TN.