The Monster Energy Cup Series capped off a Sunday full of racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the Coca Cola 600. To start it was an awesome Memorial Day celebration while giving great recognition to those who fight for our freedom. Then all forty drivers geared up for 600 miles off non-stop action.
William Byron was the youngest driver to ever win the pole for the Coca Cola 600. He took the opportunity and battled hard for the early lead. Once he began to settle in, Erik Jones banged hard into the outside wall on lap 23. This brought out the first caution and ended Erik’s night.
Everyone came down pit road under caution and Kyle Busch won the race off pit road. He fought off Kevin Harvick and settled into the lead. Then, Matt DiBenedetto slams into the outside wall on lap 49 bringing out another caution.
Once again, everyone came down pit road for service. Kevin Harvick won the race off pit road, but Martin Truex Jr. overtook him on the restart and shot out to a nice lead. However, with 29 laps left in the stage, Truex Jr. slid up the track and hit the outside wall hard. Another caution waved as the first stage was winding down.
Two more late cautions waved before the stage could find its end. Kyle Busch sent Ricky Stenhouse Jr. for a spin, and Daniel Hemric was spun around unintentionally by Clint Bowyer. Brad Keselowski had a great restart after the caution and was able to win the first stage.
Denny Hamlin jumped out to the early lead in the second stage. Chris Buescher slid up the track and hit the outside wall as the caution flag waved on lap 29.
Brad Keselowski beat Ryan Blaney on the restart to continue leading the race. With 39 laps left in the stage, Denny Hamlin blew a tire and slid into the wall. Ryan Preece cut a tire with 12 laps to go and had the same fate of everyone else as he ran right into the outside wall. Alex Bowman took over as the race leader on the next restart. With two laps to go, Brad Keselowski passed him up to win the second stage.
Kyle Busch took over as the race leader in the third stage. It seems as the race settled down going into the midway point, drivers wanted to log some laps before heading into the late parts of the race. There was a lot of aggressive driving early on. Green flag stops were just beginning to cycle through when Truex Jr. hit the lapped car of Bayley Curry out of the way. Curry spun out and brought out the first caution of the stage. Truex Jr. won the race off pit road and left everyone else behind him. He went on and won the third stage of the race.
Chase Elliott won the race off pit road and began the final stage with the lead. Kurt Busch spun around coming out of turn four and this brought out the first caution of the stage. Shortly after the restart, a big wreck happened down the backstretch with 85 laps to go. Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer created contact and collect other cars as they slid down the backstretch.
Elliott maintained the lead on the restart and held a steady lead. With 56 laps remaining, Truex JR. caught back up with Elliott and made a move to return to the lead late in the race. Denny Hamlin blew another tire with 41 laps remaining and this brings out yet another caution.
Truex Jr. continues to lead as the race winds down. With ten laps remaining, Brad Keselowski blew a tire and hit the outside fence. Many came down pit road to gear up or the final laps of the race. David Ragan stayed out to take the lead. Ragan and Ryan Newman made up the front row. After taking the field four wide on the backstretch, Martin Truex Jr. retook the lead on the following lap and the rest was history. Martin Truex Jr. wins the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sunday’s Coca Cola 600 was exciting compared to those in the past. Just halfway into the race, the field already saw six different drivers who led double-digit laps. Many drivers had an opportunity for the race lead. Early on, it could not be to who had the better car as this race is about enduring the longest event of the season. So many teams looked fast and raced hard early on. It was not until Martin Truex Jr. took command of the race where we saw who really had the faster car as the race matured.
The following four races will be another stretch that could shake up the standings. Next week, the series heads to Pocono Raceway to race on the triangle. Then they move to Michigan International Speedway. After this, they head out west to race on the road course of Sonoma, and then it is back to Daytona International Speedway. All four races will be unique and entertaining.