Brad Keselowski was able to add a Coca-Cola 600 victory to his long list of racing accomplishments on a night that saw the longest NASCAR Cup Series race ever in mileage.
Keselowski achieved the feat when scored his first win of the season in an overtime finish in the annual prestigious race at Charlotte Motor Speedway that was extended to 405 laps.
“It’s been a great 10-year career I’ve had so far and I hate it took me 10 years to get this one,” Keselowski said. “I feel like I’ve had cars and a team good enough to do it many times over and it just slipped through our hands and today it didn’t. I’m just really proud of everyone and persistence pays off.”
Keselowski reclaimed the lead for the third time in the race when he stayed out and leader Chase Elliott pitted under the final caution that set up the overtime finish.
“I feel like I’ve thrown this race away a handful of times and I felt we were gonna lose it today,” Keselowski said. “I know we’ve lost it the way Chase lost it and that really stinks, and today we finally won it that way and I’m so happy for my team.”
The win was the 31st of Keselowski’s career. He was slated to start ninth in the race, but was forced to start at the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments.
Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line 0.293 seconds behind Keselowski, but saw his second-place finish get disqualified after the No. 48 Chevrolet failed post-race inspection.
See Also: Johnson Disqualified at Charlotte
Elliott, who had passed Keselowski with 38 laps to go, came within two laps of scoring the win until his teammate William Byron cut a tire for the final caution. Elliott restarted 11th after pitting for four tires and was able to get back to third at the finish, which later resulted in a runner-up.
“You just make the best decision you can based on the information you have,” Elliott said. “When you are leading the race like that, people behind you are going to do the exact opposite of what you do.
“That was the situation we were put in.”
NASCAR.com: Watch the Closing Laps
Ryan Blaney finished third with Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick rounding out the top five. Busch, who battled back from a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 204, also pitted under the last caution.
“No, no there was never a discussion to stay out,” Busch said. “It was always going to be two or four and if we did two, which two to do. We had already made our mind up to pit.”
Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Chris Buescher completed the top 10. Bell’s finish was his first top 10 in seven Cup starts.
Truex Jr. led 87 laps and also was one to pit on under the final caution.
“We basically felt like if we couldn’t start on the front row, we were going to pit. If one more guy had pitted, we were going to stay out,” Truex Jr. said. “I feel like that was a good decision on James (Small, crew chief) part because the guy that started third finished 20th (19th).”
Alex Bowman, who was third on the final restart, led a race-high 164 laps and won the first two stages before a 19th-place finish.
“At the end there, it just went straight,” Bowman said. “Not much I could do with that and unfortunately don’t have a finish to show how strong we were today. We learned a lot and hopefully can come back strong on Wednesday.”
Joey Logano won the third stage and finished 13th after pit road speeding penalty on Lap 350.
See Also: Stage Points
Darlington winner Denny Hamlin saw his start to the 600 get off to a tough start even before the green flag was displayed. Hamlin’s Toyota dropped a ballast as the car pulled on to the track for the pace laps. He fell multiple laps down at the start so the team could fix the issue.
See Also: Ballast Falls Off Hamlin’s Car
The race featured eight cautions for 52 laps and a 1 hour, 8 minute delay for rain halfway through Stage 1.
Story updated after post-race inspection