The 600’s Decisive Dozen

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 28 2018

It was the Kyle Busch show at Charlotte on Sunday but there were some supporting acts. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

CONCORD, N.C. – Coca-Cola 600 twelve-pack race recap:

  1. Defending Coca-Cola 600 race champion Austin Dillon’s bid for a second straight win in NASCAR’s longest race of the season went up in smoke on lap 42 after a blown right-rear tire caused extensive damage to his No. 3 Chevrolet. This season’s Daytona 500 champion finished 34th on Sunday night.
  2. A right-front tire failure on lap 83 sent Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford sailing into the Turn 4 wall as this year’s five-time race winner was battling Kyle Larson for fourth. Forced to start 39th after failing pre-qualifying tech on Thursday night, the Bakersfield, Calif. native cracked the top 20 on lap 14. He continued his ascent up the leaderboard until the early-race incident forced him to park his Fusion. Harvick finished 40th.
  3. Paul Wolfe rolled the dice with 11 laps remaining during the first stage of Sunday night’s marathon event when he was the lone crew chief to go with fuel only when pit road opened during a caution period. The move backfired as his driver, Brad Keselowski, plummeted out of the race lead and into 25th in less than two laps. Riding on worn tires, Keselowski managed to nurse his No. 2 Ford to 26that the conclusion of the opening stage.
  4. A bobble at speed on lap 113 sent William Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet sliding into the Turn 1 wall. There was no evidence of a tire-related failure. The rookie driver lost one lap while his Hendrick Motorsports team made repairs on pit road. He restarted 24th following the caution he created. After limping around the track for several laps, Byron parked his Camaro and was credited with a 39th-place finish.
  5. Contact with Denny Hamlin sent Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet into a spin near the front of the field. With the field bearing down on Johnson, everyone took evasive action and managed to avoid the Camaro as it spun in Turn 4. Joey Logano also spun during the incident but, miraculously, his No. 22 Ford escaped with minor damage.
  6. Martin Truex Jr. learned the value of track position after a pit road speeding penalty (too fast entering) dropped the defending Monster Energy Cup Series champion from second to 17thfollowing the round of pit stops at the conclusion of the second stage on lap 200. Racing in traffic, Truex gained a mere three positions in the running order over the next 25 laps. Truex rallied to finish second.
  7. Running fourth and searching for a faster line in the corner, Kyle Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet went for a wild spin in Turn 1. The Californian put his dirt track skills to good use by masterfully keeping his Camaro off the wall while running fourth.
  8. It was a banner day in Indianapolis on Sunday for legendary car owner Roger Penske who claimed his 17th victory in the 500. But the Captain didn’t enjoy as much success at Charlotte, evidenced by a lap 278 incident when his No. 12 Ford driven by Ryan Blaney went up in flames.
  9. Erik Jones’ over-the-wall team suffered a freak mishap during a stop on lap 306 under caution. Just as the Joe Gibbs Racing team sprang into action, Kasey Kahne entered the pit box just ahead and clipped the front tire-changer’s air hose in the process. Jones entered pit road running second but exited in 19th.
  10. After racing in the top 10 much of the evening, Ryan Newman was forced to make the hard left turn into the garage on lap 311 due to a wheel bearing issue on his Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet. The Indiana native, who finished 35th, was in search of his fourth top 10 finish of the season.
  11. About the only thing that went wrong on Sunday night for Kyle Busch occurred with less than 100 laps remaining when his primary team communication radio channel experienced unexplained interference. About 10 minutes later, the team had Busch switch to their backup channel.
  12. Overshadowed by Busch’s dominating performance in the 600 was the run by seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. He still hasn’t led a lap this season but the driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet showed glimpses of greatness from yesteryear.
| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 28 2018
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