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Hamlin’s First 600 Victory Comes In Two OTs

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 30 2022

Denny Hamlin added the Coca-Cola 600 to his resume on Sunday night. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

CONCORD, N.C. – When it comes to ranking the rich history of the Coca-Cola 600, Sunday night’s edition will easily rank among the best.

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin fended off a furious challenge from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered to collect his first win in the 600 after 17 attempts to capture one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.

“It was looking bad for about 398 laps,” said Hamlin, who led 15 laps. “Considering our day, I was going to be content to finish fourth.”

“We managed the race. We didn’t have the fastest car and gave ourselves the opportunity when it arrived for us.”

The 400 lap topsy-turvy race was filled with multiple twists and turns, including 18 caution flags which resulted in high attrition and left the Cup garage littered with battered and beaten Next Gen cars.

The night’s three most spectacular wrecks occurred near the conclusion.

With 56 laps remaining, Daniel Suarez’s No. 99 Chevrolet spun on the frontstrech, resulting in Chris Buescher’s No. 17 Ford sliding through the turf. The nose of Buescher’s Mustang appeared to clip a drain, which lifted the car off the ground and sent it into a violent barrel roll.

The car sat on its roof for six minutes as the safety crew worked to turn the car right side up.

“I appreciate them for helping me and setting it back over again,” said Buescher, who finished 26th. “The blood is rushing to your head a little bit.

“I guess I could have pulled the belts and fallen right to the ground. But I figured I’d just wait on them.”

With just under two laps remaining in regulation, Chase Briscoe drove underneath defending race champion Kyle Larson as the two entered Turn 1.

But Briscoe’s Ford lost traction, spun and narrowly missed clipping Larson’s Chevrolet.

“There are 100 different things I would have done differently if I could re-do it again,” said Briscoe, who erased a three second deficit to Larson over the final 40 laps. “Obviously, you’re racing in the moment and I made a mistake and went too far.”

On the first attempt in overtime, Larson and Ross Chastain, who both pitted for two sticker tires, lined up side-by-side on row one. But Austin Dillon used his four tire stop to surge from fifth as he roared down the backstretch to setup an incredible four-wide move in Turn 3 to briefly grab the lead with the white flag in sight.

But the rear of his Chevy made slight contact with Larson’s No. 5 to create a multi-car pileup on the frontstretch.

“You’re kind of gambling on tires there,” said Larson, who tagged the wall early in the race, later spun but regrouped to nearly win. “I think we took two (tires) to try and get ourselves on the front row, which we did.

“Austin almost had me cleared and we just made contact there to trigger a big wreck. It kind of ended my night there.”

After qualifying 13th, Chase Elliott’s No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet came to life early during the running of Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway enabling him to dominate the first half of the longest race of the NASCAR season.

Elliott’s evening came to a premature ending 10 laps prior to halfway when he spun due to a broken right-rear toe link.

Despite a furious effort to replace the broken part on the Camaro as it sat on pit road, the repair clock expired and left NASCAR’s most popular driver, who led 86 laps, with a 33rd-place finish.

Sunday turned out to a banner day for motorsports. More than 300,000 fans jammed into Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the Indy 500.

The 600 was officially sold out, resulting in the speedway’s biggest crowd since 2017. Campers were plentiful in the CMS infield and nearly all of the parking lots outside of the facility.

“It was good to see the Indy 500 with more than 300,000 people there and see so many fans here, which reminds you just how big this event is,” Hamlin said.

“It appears that a younger generation is beginning to fall in love with motorsports again, which is really, really good and encouraging.”

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NASCAR Cup Series Race – 63rd Annual COCA-COLA 600

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Sunday, May 29, 2022

  1. (1)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 413.
  2. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 413.
  3. (18)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 413.
  4. (15)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 413.
  5. (3)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 413.
  6. (8)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 413.
  7. (29)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 413.
  8. (10)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 413.
  9. (36)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 413.
  10. (9)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 413.
  11. (17)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 413.
  12. (14)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 413.
  13. (28)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 413.
  14. (25)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 413.
  15. (22)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 413.
  16. (30)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 413.
  17. (24)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 412.
  18. (33)  Cody Ware, Ford, 412.
  19. (31)  BJ McLeod, Ford, 407.
  20. (23)  Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 405.
  21. (21)  Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 405.
  22. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 405.
  23. (34)  Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 400.
  24. (27)  Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, Throttle, 386.
  25. (12)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, Accident, 346.
  26. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 346.
  27. (20)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, Engine, 343.
  28. (7)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, DVP, 200.
  29. (11)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 195.
  30. (35)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 193.
  31. (2)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, Accident, 191.
  32. (5)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 191.
  33. (13)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, DVP, 188.
  34. (6)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, Accident, 145.
  35. (37)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 60.
  36. (32)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 31.
  37. (26)  Ryan Preece(i), Ford, DVP, 16.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  118.703 mph.

Time of Race:  5 Hrs, 13 Mins, 8 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.119 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  18 for 90 laps.

Lead Changes:  31 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 0;K. Busch 1-2;D. Hamlin 3-9;K. Busch 10-39;B. Wallace 40;K. Busch 41-45;D. Suarez 46-62;C. Elliott 63-66;W. Byron 67;C. Elliott 68-110;R. Chastain 111-128;C. Elliott 129-148;R. Blaney 149-150;K. Larson 151;C. Elliott 152-170;R. Chastain 171-196;D. Suarez 197-204;J. Logano 205-213;D. Suarez 214-220;R. Chastain 221-251;D. Suarez 252-255;R. Chastain 256-259;C. Briscoe 260;R. Chastain 261-303;T. Reddick 304-322;R. Chastain 323-353;K. Larson 354-395;C. Briscoe 396;K. Larson 397-404;D. Hamlin 405-411;K. Busch 412;D. Hamlin 413.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ross Chastain 6 times for 153 laps; Chase Elliott 4 times for 86 laps; Kyle Larson 3 times for 51 laps; Daniel Suarez 4 times for 36 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 36 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 19 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 15 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 9 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Briscoe 2 times for 2 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 2 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,8,20,1,23,12,47,19,48,11

Stage #2 Top Ten: 99,1,43,14,47,22,4,8,19,20

Stage #3 Top Ten: 1,14,5,8,99,22,41,17,3,11

 

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Monday, May 30 2022
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