The NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway had it all from start to finish Sunday night with Brad Keselowski holding off Jimmie Johnson in overtime to win the longest-ever race in NASCAR Cup Series history on a rain-soaked evening in North Carolina.
Denny Hamlin starts horribly at NASCAR Coca-Cola 600
After victories to start the season at Daytona and Wednesday’s mid-week race, the Toyota 500, Denny Hamlin was a favorite to pick up his third win of the year in Charlotte. Those hopes vanished before they ever got started when a piece of tungsten flew off of Hamlin’s car during the pace laps and Hamlin had to return to pit road to have the weight put back into his Toyota.
After the repair was completed, Hamlin returned to the race eight laps down. The added ballast is used to meet NASCAR’s minimum-weight requirement. The tungsten weighs 35 pounds. A loose piece during competition can cause serious damage if another vehicle strikes it.
The repercussions for the mishap will be even longer-lasting than the race because the penalty for losing a piece of tungsten off your car is an automatic four-race suspension for the crew chief, according to NASCAR’s rule book.
Hamlin wasn’t happy with the incident and was never a factor in the race.
NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 red-flagged for more than an hour; brings hilarity on pit road
With threatening skies, the race started on time, and Kurt Busch led the first 49 laps before NASCAR officials brought out caution due to rain, and the cars were brought down pit road. A few minutes later, the rain intensified, and the race was red-flagged.
The rain delay also began the comedy portion of the broadcast as FOX Sports interviewed different drivers on pit road and captured some funny moments as a few struggled with the concept of umbrella opening.
Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson and teammate Alex Bowman both were momentarily umbrella-challenged. Bowman later said on Twitter he was helping his friend out. They weren’t alone. Clint Bowyer also fought a losing battle with an umbrella, and up in the broadcast booth Jeff Gordon responded like the rest of the viewing audience with a nice laugh.
Keselowski wins longest race in NASCAR Cup Series history
At the end of the NASCAR Coca-Cola 600, Chase Elliott appeared to be headed for victory lane pulling away from the pack in the final 10 laps of the race when his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron brought out the caution with two laps to go. Elliott opted to head down pit road and get four fresh tires. Many of the remaining drivers stayed out including the eventual winner Keselowski.
On the restart for overtime laps Keselowski and Johnson battled it out with Keselowski pulling away in the final half lap to earn his 31st career victory and second win in Charlotte. His victory marks the fifth different driver to win a race in 2020. Elliott, who started in 10th on the restart, finished in third behind Johnson.
In a nice moment after the race, Kyle Busch came over and consoled Elliott after the two made up in the last couple of days following Wednesday’s late incident in Darlington.