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CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski extended Jimmie Johnson’s losing hand to 102 runs, holding the NASCAR champion seven times overtime early Monday in the Coca-Cola 600.
Keselowski started at the back of the field, worked his way up the Charlotte Motor Speedway and played with no pity when caution stopped Chase Elliott from winning with two laps remaining.
Elliott cut and Keselowski led a train with eight cars that remained on the track. He stood up in front of Alex Bowman on the inside of Johnson with Johnson – departing from cupracing at the end of the season ̵
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Keselowski got a push to get into clean air and denied Johnson a victory. Keselowski celebrated as he usually does by waving a giant American flag out his window during his victory burnout.
“I feel I’ve thrown this race away a handful of times and I thought we would lose it today,” Keselowski said. “I’ve lost it as Chase lost it and it really stinks. And today we finally won it that way. “
It is the first victory for Keselowski this season, his first Coca-Cola 600 victory and the first victory at this event for Ford since 2002.
Johnson finished second in a Chevrolet, while Elliott, who had the win counted just two turns from goal, collected to third for Hendrick to take two podium places.
Elliott had a comfortable lead and reached the victory when Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron spun with a tire problem.
“It must be a joke,” Elliott said over his radio.
Elliott was destroyed by Kyle Busch last week and tried to compete for the victory at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Wednesday night.
The Sunday before Memorial Day should be a smorgasbord of motorsports starting with Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix, then IndyCar and Indianapolis 500, followed by NASCAR and its longest race on the calendar.
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The Coronavirus pandemic has wiped out the first part of F1’s schedule and, like IndyCar, is still waiting to start its season. Roger Penske, the new owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, has moved the Indy 500. It marks the first time since 1946 that the 500 does not run on Memorial Day weekend.
NASCAR could go on for its third Cup event in seven days during a health plan approved by state officials that allowed the sport to resume after a 10-week break. NASCAR ran three events in South Carolina, and the Coca-Cola 600 starts four consecutive racing days at Charlotte.
A rain delay of almost 90 minutes during the first stage of the competition pushed the goals in on Monday, but it ended up perfectly well for Penske, the owner of Keselowski’s car.
Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin got his shot at winning another crown jewel event destroyed before the race even started.
A bit of tungsten flew off Hamlin’s car below the pace and Hamlin had to return to pit road to regain the weight of his Toyota.
Hamlin was eight laps when he finally joined the race. The punishment for tungsten coming from a car is a quarter of a suspension for the crew chief, according to NASCAR’s rulebook.
Hamlin, the winner on Wednesday night at Darlington Raceway, was clearly frustrated when his Joe Gibbs Racing team worked to reuse tungsten.
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“Let me know when it’s ‘no return’ and we can just go home,” Hamlin said.
“No,” replied crew chief Chris Gabehart. “We can’t do that.”
The wolf in question weighs 35 pounds and costs $ 1,787 from the supplier. If it gets off a car during the race, it can cause serious injury if another vehicle hits it. The ballast is added to meet NASCAR’s minimum weight requirements and if it is separated from the car, it is an automatic rear suspension for the crew chief.
NASCAR started the race and checked off for 49 laps before the rain got caution. The cars were taken to the pit road and covered a lap later as the rain picked up and the race was red-marked. It resumed after a rain delay of almost 80 minutes.
Kurt Busch started from the pole and was still leading when the rain started at the only event of the biggest individual day competition.
Matt DiBenedetto and Tampa’s Aric Almirola crashed into the qualifier. DiBenedetto needed a backup Ford from The Wood Brothers, and Stewart-Haas Racing fixed Almirola’s damaged Ford. Almirola ended up in 16th place.
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Track officials treat 600 as an elaborate tribute to the military and fallen heroes, but most have been scrapped because spectators are not allowed to participate in NASCAR races yet. NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Associated Press that he did not think spectators would be at competitions at least through Talladega on June 21, the last race published NASCAR’s currently revised schedule.
NASCAR has squeezed 20 national series races on the calendar between Talladega and the May 17 resume at Darlington Raceway.