Keseleowski wins in OT race
CONCORD, N.C. - Brad Keseleowski, driver of the No. 2 Ford for Team Penske, won his first Coca-Cola 600 early Monday in an overtime race that was determined in the final laps.
Keselowski finished three-tenths of a second ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who came in second place until failing his post-race inspection. Chase Elliott, who had a large lead until a caution with two laps to go, crossed the finish line third.
CHASE ELLIOTT FOILED AGAIN
Just four days after Elliott ended a race in fury over an incident with Kyle Busch, he nearly returned to the track in redemption. Nearly.
With two laps to go and Elliott in the lead, Hendrick teammate William Byron spun out, forcing a caution and an overtime race. Elliot pitted for tires before the restart, placing him behind Keselowski and Johnson.
With under 50 laps to go, Keselowski moved into a first place position off a critical restart after a caution flag was thrown for Joey Gase, who spun off Turn 4 at the back of the field. Elliott's No. 9 Chevy pushed past Keselowski and held the lead for 38 laps of the 405-lap race.
A TRUEX-BOWMAN DUEL ...
Epitomized the Toyota-Chevy, JGR-Hendrick battle, and defined the evening.
Hendrick Chevrolet drivers made a statement early. Three of the team's four drivers dominated the qualifying round with a top-10 starting spot, then the one driver who started in 12th place, Alex Bowman, dominated the first two stages of the race.
Bowman led 338 of the 600 miles, winning Stage Nos. 1 and 2 handily, and finishing second in Stage 3. He was passed by reigning Coca-Cola 600 champion Martin Truex Jr. on Lap 225 after a cat-and-mouse chase that continued through the finish.
Truex Jr. finished in second behind Bowman in the first two stages, and finished fifth in Stage 3, which was won by Joey Logano.
Meanwhile, Truex's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Erik Jones remained sprinkled throughout the top 10 in the first three stages, as did Hendrick drivers Chase Elliott, William Byron and Jimmie Johnson. Truex Jr. finished the race sixth (following Johnson's disqualification) and Bowman placed 19th.
ROOKIES REMAIN STRONG
Cup rookie Tyler Reddick continued to impress with his second top-10 finish of 2020. He finished in eighth place (updated result) following a seventh place finish last Sunday at Darlington and a 13th place spot on Wednesday at the same speedway.
Reddick demonstrated he could handle the endurance test at Charlotte as well. The No. 8 driver started fifth, and raced his way into fourth place for Stage 1 points and flirted with the top-10 through the night.
Rookie Christopher Bell also made an appearance in the top-10. Bell finished ninth.
STRUGGLES AT CHARLOTTE
Hamlin's dreams of his first Coke 600 win were dashed before the race began. The No. 11 driver lost a ballast under his car while running pace laps just minutes before the green flag waved, forcing Hamlin to pit as other drivers started the race. Hamlin entered eight laps down and remained in the bottom half for all 607.6 miles, the longest Cup race ever in mileage.
Hamlin did not finish in dead-last, however. No. 43 driver Bubba Wallace was forced out of the race due to a mechanical issue less than halfway through Stage 2. He returned in the third stage with a penalty and finished in the bottom three.
Like Wallace, No. 14 driver Clint Bowyer suffered a blow early. Bowyer hit the wall just before the end of Stage 1, forcing Bowyer's car to smoke and sending the driver to the care center, from which he was quickly released.
Hamlin's error will cost him more than Bowyer's and Wallace's, however. According to the NASCAR rule book, "loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four-race suspension of the crew chief, car chief and head engineer." The ballast is the weight teams add to cars to meet the minimum weight requirement.
Before the race, Hamlin told FOX Sports he had multiple face masks at the ready in his car.
"I have different emotions stored away depending on how tonight goes," Hamlin said. He finished 29th.