Hamlin finally conquers Charlotte, wins Coca-Cola 600 from pole position
CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – After starting on pole position for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor speedway, Denny Hamlin promptly lost the lead to 23XI driver Kurt Busch late into just the first lap of the race. He’d gain it back two laps later, but eventually lose it again to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch at lap nine.
Then, Hamlin disappeared — dropping deeper into the pack as the 600-mile race wore on. He was even involved in a lap 191 incident that included 12 other cars alongside of Hamlin’s no. 11 JGR Toyota Camry.
Despite the Toyotas dominating qualifying, Chevys controlled the first three stages, with Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott taking the first stage. Team Trackhouse drivers Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain captured the second and third stages respectively.
With just three laps to go, Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson was doing everything he could to try and hold off Stewart-Haas Racing driver Chase Briscoe. The two had been dueling for more than twenty laps, all within a half-second of each other. Finally, Briscoe lost patience and attempted a last-ditch slide job on Larson but failed, forcing the race’s nineteenth caution of the day.
In NASCAR Overtime, several drivers fought their way to the front for the lead, including Larson and RCR driver Austin Dillon, who was on a fresh set of tires. The leaders ended up going four-wide near the start-finish line, resulting in a seven-car incident that sent the race into a second overtime.
Amidst the carnage, it was Hamlin who had stayed in the race and found himself leading the pack for the final restart. With his teammate, Kyle Bush on the outside, Hamlin drove with precision and ended up capturing his first career victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway — a win that has been a long time coming for the Coca-Cola sponsored driver.
“The last big one that’s not on my resume, it meant so much,” Hamlin said. “I’ve been a Coke family driver for 18 years and never won the Coke 600 before, so this means a lot.”
Hamlin acknowledged that much of the victory could be credited to being put in a fortunate position late in the race.
“We weren’t very good all day,” Hamlin said. “Just got ourselves in the right place at the right time and what a battle there.”
Kyle Busch ended up finishing the race second, followed by Kevin Harvick and Briscoe. JGR driver Christopher Bell rounded out the top five in fifth.
The NASCAR Cup Series and Camping World Truck series both race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, IL next weekend, with the Xfinity Series traveling to Portland International Raceway.
Kyle Busch takes NASCAR Cup Series win in California
FONTANA, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The pairing of Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing is paying dividends as two races into their partnership, they were celebrating victory at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. Busch beat Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott by ?.?-seconds to pick up his ??-career Cup Series victory and the ?? of his NASCAR career.
“I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern, but also on the flipside of that, I always just kind of looked back and watched some of their results and success that they had last year with Austin,” explained Busch. “He ran second here last year, and Reddick was super, super fast. They were fast at the Clash before they broke, the 8 car was.”
Busch said the transition to a new team has been good.
“It’s just been really, really cool, and it’s been a great piece of — we’re making history, right, but a great piece of opportunity to go out there and continue to win races at a new team with RCR, so I can’t say enough about Austin giving me a call, first and foremost, but then Richard and Judy giving me this opportunity to go out here and race for wins.”
Elliott was happy for his manufacturer teammate and former Champ and to get a finish after getting crashed out of the Daytona 500.
“Congratulations to Kyle,” said Elliott. “For him to leave and then to go get the job done like that is pretty cool. He’s always been really good to me, so happy for them. Obviously I think we still have some work to do, but it was really nice to just see a lot of that hard work pay off and have the car driving like we were wanting it to do. So that’s always a good thing. Appreciate everybody on our NAPA team, Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet for just sticking with it and sticking with each other. Looking forward to getting to Vegas and hopefully competing for some more wins.”
Ross Chastain, who led a race high 92-laps, finished third in the No. 1 Kubota Chevrolet for Trackhouse Racing.
“Our balance was building loose most of the day, so I thought we did everything right,” said Chatain. “We kept up with it. It would just feel pretty loose late in the runs, and at times it was enough, and at times they got way better.”
The NASCAR Cup Series moves on to Las Vegas for the Pennzoil 400 March 5th.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 in two overtimes
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ricky Stenhouse Jr was leading NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano when a spinning Kyle Larson brought out the final caution of the day, giving Stenhouse the Daytona 500 win in double-overtime.
Stenhouse and Logano were battling for the lead on Lap 212 when contact from Aric Almirola’s Ford started Travis Pastrana’s Toyota spinning in Turn 2. Pastrana’s Camry clipped Larson Chevrolet and set it rocketing into the outside wall. NASCAR officials reviewed the timing and scoring loops to verify Stenhouse was the winner.
“The 22 had a huge run,” explained Stenhouse. “Got to my outside. Kyle had a huge run and he kind of shipped the middle, and then I looked in my mirror and here comes Christopher and gave me a big shot down the short chute there into 1 caution and got out front enough for when the caution came out.
So everything played out perfectly for us at the end of that.”
“Second is the worst, man,” lamented Logano. “You’re so close. Leading the white flag lap there, I was up front. Kyle gave me a good push and, yeah, you’re watching in the mirror and you’re three wide across there. I felt like the three wide was going a hurt a lane; looked like Kyle was getting pushed ahead, and then Ricky started getting pushed ahead.”
“If you would have told me pre-race I was going to run third, I would have jumped up and down and been smiling ear to ear, which I am very happy and very, very thankful that I could get this Rheem and DeWalt Camry a good solid finish,” said Bell. “But man, just so close to a crown jewel. I feel like if it would have stayed green I would have been on offense, and obviously who knows. But very proud and thankful to be here and Joe Gibbs Racing, and happy for Ricky. That’s really cool. Very, very happy for Ricky.”
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is Sunday, February 26 at Auto Club Raceway in Fontana, California.
Austin Hill wins his second straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona
DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Hill won his second-straight NASCAR Xfinity Series season-opening race on Saturday, narrowly beating John Hunter Nemechek and Justin Allgaier after NASCAR officials reviewed the tape following Sam Mayer’s caution.
“As soon as the caution lights came on, I thought I had it, but it was so close,” said Hill. “To get back-to-back here at Daytona, it’s really special. That’s three wins for me now, two in the Xfinity, one in the truck here. We came from the back two different times. I hope everyone enjoyed it. It was such a blast. I had so much fun.”
“I’ve been short my whole life, so I guess it’s just fitting,” joked Allgaier. “But really proud of everybody at JR Motorsports. Our Chevy Camaros tonight were absolutely blazing fast. Obviously, I’m glad Sam is OK. He had a heck of a run there at the end.”