CONCORD, NC ( Associated Press) — Denny Hamlin held Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in overtime on Sunday night to win the longest — and perhaps the wildest — Coca-Cola 600 in history.
Hamlin won the Cup Series for the 48th time, and briefly won a points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s very special,” Hamlin said. “He’s the last big one that’s not on my resume. We weren’t great all day but found ourselves in the right place at the right time.”
NASCAR’s longest and grueling race lasted over 5 1/2 hours and took 413 laps to complete. There were 18 caution flags and 16 drivers failed to finish. The race featured a 12-car wreck and a spectacular crash that flipped Chris Bucher’s car five times before stopping on the upside.
Defending race champion Kyle Larson appeared set to win the race at regulation before Chase Briscoe tried to pass him with two laps to go at regulation.
In the overtime period Larson had the inside lane on the restart in overtime, but Austin Dillon got a push from the second line and was soon running four-wide with Larson, Hamlin and Ross Chastain.
But there was an accident involving several cars, including Larsen and Dillon.
“I loosened up a little and tried to make it stick,” Dillon said. “It didn’t quite work out there. I had to do what I had to do to win the race where we are in the points. We had a shot at getting home another 600.”
On the next restart, Hamlin took the lead and held off Bush for the win. Kevin Harvick finished third and Briscoe fourth.
“It means a lot to me to be with the Coke family for 18 years,” Hamlin said. “It totally worked.”
There was a huge wreck on lap 192, where last weekend’s All-Star Race winner Ryan Blaney fell too low on the apron at the bottom of the track and rolled back the track. It started a chain reaction that caught 12 cars, sending some of NASCAR’s top stars — Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, William Byrne and Chase Elliott — behind the wall for good.
Elliot led 93 laps before the crash and looks like she’s about to beat the car.
“It’s chaos out there,” Byron said. “You can’t even drive the car to the side for a little bit or you’re doomed. So, if someone goes sideways for a little bit, we’re all doomed. It either kicks other people out or They roam the infield. Just chaos.”
Bush said: “I think I hit about 15 different things.”
Blaney said the wreck occurred when he fell too low on the apron below the track.
“God, I hate it,” Blaney said. “Makes you feel so dumb for doing this. I hate that it tore down our car and a few others. … I didn’t know where I was and just made a mistake.”
The carnage was not over as Busher’s No. 17 Ford flipped five times before landing on its roof after a collision with Daniel Suarez on the front section. Bucher had to wait until track officers turned his car back on before exiting the car.
He walked away by accident.
“I think a tire just exploded and flipped us,” Busher said. “I’ve been upside down before, but it was a little more painful than the Talladega roll.”
Elliott won the first stage, while Trackhouse Racing teammates Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain won the second and third stages respectively.
The race also featured Tanner Andrews, a tire changer for Joey Logano’s pit crew, who had his right leg amputated by pole sitter Denny Hamlin on the pit road.
Answer Next: The NASCAR Cup Series leaves for St. Louis next Sunday.
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