Denny Hamlin holds off Kyle Busch to win wild NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in overtime


Denny Hamlin holds off Kyle Busch to win wild NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 in overtime

CONCORD, NC — This was the one race Denny Hamlin dreamed of.

Hamlin finally got the win he’d coveted for the past 17 years by holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in overtime Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the longest – and perhaps wildest – Coca-Cola 600 in to win the story.

“It’s so special. This is the last big race that’s not on my resume,” said Hamlin, who has won the Daytona 500 and Southern 500 three times each, the All-Star race and 48 times in the Cup Series Has . “We weren’t very good all day, but we found ourselves in the right place at the right time.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs said he knew this was an important win for Hamlin.

“To be riding so hard and so long with Denny and to be here and knowing how important this race is right here in our backyard is just a big deal,” said Gibbs.

NASCAR’s longest and most grueling race lasted more than five hours and covered 619 miles. There were 18 warning flags and 16 drivers did not finish. The race included a 12-car accident and an accident in which Chris Buescher’s car rolled over five times before stopping upside down.

Defending race champion Kyle Larson battled adversity throughout the night and incurred two pit penalties, a fire in his box and in the back of his car, and a spin. But he had a golden opportunity to win when he took the lead with 46 laps to go.

But with two laps to go, Chase Briscoe tried to pass Larson and crashed, bringing out the yellow warning flag and sending the race into overtime.

Larson had the inside lane for the restart in overtime, but Austin Dillon got a nudge from the second row and was soon running four wide along with Larson, Hamlin and Ross Chastain.

A multi-car accident followed in which Larson Dillon pinched and both cars spun.

“I loosened up a bit and tried to hold it in place,” Dillon said. “It didn’t quite work out there. I had to do what I had to do to win the race as we are in points. We had a chance to bring another 600 home there.”

The fall ended Larson’s chance to become the event’s first repeat winner since Jimmie Johnson won three straight from 2003-05. Larson was ninth.

It also set Hamlin up for victory.

At the next restart, Hamlin took the lead and held off Busch for the win. Kevin Harvick was third and Briscoe fourth.

“Given how my day went, I would have been happy with fourth place,” said Hamlin.

There was a huge wreck on Lap 192 when Ryan Blaney, winner of last weekend’s All-Star race, landed too low on the apron at the end of the track and reversed the track. That set off a chain reaction that caught up with 12 cars and sent some of NASCAR’s top stars – including Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, William Byron and Chase Elliott – behind the wall forever.

Elliott led 93 laps before the crash and looked like the car to beat.

“It’s chaos out there,” Byron said. “You can’t drive the car sideways a bit or you’re broken. So if someone drives a little sideways, we all crash. Either other people get eliminated or they turn into the infield. Just chaos.”

Kurt Busch said, “I think I hit about 15 different things.”

Blaney said the wreck happened when he fell too deep.

“Gosh, I hate it,” Blaney said. “You feel pretty stupid for that. I hate that it tore up our car and a handful of others. … I just didn’t know where I was and just made a mistake.”

The wrecks weren’t over when Buescher’s No. 17 Ford rolled over five times before landing on its roof following a collision on the front stretch with Daniel Suarez. Buescher had to wait for track officials to turn his car back over before he could get out of the car.

He said it was more painful than his previous rollover at Talladega.

“I appreciate that they helped me and put it back, so thanks to everyone working to make sure it doesn’t bounce back,” Buescher said. “It was nice to get out. The blood rushes to your head a bit. I guess I could have pulled the straps and fallen straight to the ground, but I figured I’d just wait.”

Elliott won stage one while TrackHouse Racing teammates Suarez and Chastain won stages two and three, respectively.

The race also included Tanner Andrews, a tire changer for Joey Logano’s pit crew, who had his right foot cut off by polesitter Hamlin in the pit lane.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to the St. Louis area next Sunday.

You May Also Like