Denny Hamlin Survives At Charlotte To Win His First-Ever Coca-Cola 600by Hunter Thomas May 30, 2022 1 comment
CONCORD, N.C. – Denny Hamlin prevailed over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch in double NASCAR Overtime to win his first-ever Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race marked the longest in NASCAR history in terms of miles, and it was certainly a wild one. On the 18th restart of the day, Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota was able to hold Busch at bay to win the 413-lap race. Hamlin is a previous NASCAR All-Star Race winner; however, it took him more than 16 years to win the prestigious Coca-Cola 600.
“It’s so special,” Hamlin said. “It’s the last big one that’s not on my résumé. It meant so much. Man, just can’t thank this whole FedEx team enough. Jordan Brand, Shady Rays, Toyota, Coco-Cola. I’ve been a Coke family driver for 18 years. Never won the Coke 600 before. This means a lot. Man, we weren’t very good all day. Just got ourselves in the right place at the right time. What a battle there.”
Kyle Busch finished second in the No. 18 M&M’s Red White and Blue Toyota. He had an up and down race. On Lap 47, he spun in Turn 2 while battling Daniel Suarez for the lead. After falling off the lead lap, Busch battled back and survived the late-race chaos to capture his fifth top-five of the season.
“We didn’t have a good enough day to even be in that position,” Busch said. “Just a strong fight all night long by this M&M’s team. Give honor to those we remember here on Memorial Day weekend. Appreciate the opportunity and being able to do that. We had Sergeant Thiem on here with this us weekend. Tried to come out with Victory Lane, honor them. Unfortunately, one spot short.”
Kevin Harvick, Chase Briscoe who recovered from a late spin, and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-five. Completing the top-10 was Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson who was on fire at one point and Alex Bowman.
Chase Elliott won Stage 1, while Trackhouse Racing’s Daniel Suarez and Ross Chastain won Stages 2 and 3 respectively.
Throughout the night, there were 31 lead changes among 13 drivers. Chastain led a race high of 153 laps. There were also 64 green flag passes for the lead, which is a Charlotte record.
The caution came out on 18 occasions for 90 laps.
The largest crash of the night occurred on Lap 193, when 13 cars wrecked in Turn 2. Ryan Blaney lost control and spun in front of the field while running sixth, and with nowhere to go, cars piled in.
On Lap 347, a chain reaction sent Chris Buescher flipping down the frontstretch. Briscoe clipped Suarez on the frontstretch, and Buescher was then caught up in the accident. The right front of his car dug into the turf and he began tumbling down the frontstretch. Buescher was okay, and he walked away under his own power. The red flag was displayed for 11 minutes.
The final accident of the night occurred on Lap 406, when Hamlin, Austin Dillon, Kyle Larson and Chastain tried to make it through Turn 4 at four-wide. The wreck ignited when the drivers ran out of room, and Dillon was clipped by Larson. Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Cole Custer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were caught up in the accident as well. Race winner, Hamlin just barely passed by unscathed.
Up next on the schedule, the NASCAR Cup Series will visit World Wide Technology Raceway for the first time on Sunday, June 5. The Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter will broadcast live on FS1 and MRN.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com