NASCAR

Charlotte NASCAR: Keselowski wins 600-mile race from last, Johnson disqualified

Brad Keselowski recovered from the back of the grid in the Charlotte 600-mile NASCAR Cup race to win, while second-placed Jimmie Johnson was disqualified post-race for a technical infringement.

A spin on lap 399 of a scheduled 400 for Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron brought out a caution, with Byron’s team-mate, long-time leader Chase Elliott, opting to pit for fresh tyres for overtime, whilst the likes of Keselowski, Johnson and Ryan Blaney stayed out on 45-lap old tyres.

On the final restart, Keselowski and Johnson broke away, with the former’s Ford Mustang – which was sent to the back of the pack following changes made after scrutineering before the race – looking comfortable in the lead, crossing the line 0.293 seconds clear of Johnson’s Chevrolet Camaro to score his 31st Cup win.

Johnson fell narrowly short of ending his winless run which now stands at 102 races, but was later thrown out of the results when his #48 machine’s rear alignment numbers were found to be off.

Elliott recovered to take third, having taken the lead of the race on lap 365 after fighting back from two unscheduled pitstops just after half-distance to fix spring issues on his Camaro, which dropped him from fifth to the rear of the field.

Ryan Blaney was an early mover, making up nine places in the first 10 laps of the race, which was suspended for just over an hour on lap 50 following a brief rain shower passing over the Charlotte circuit.

The Penske driver then drove a solid event to fourth, ahead of Kyle Busch, who also opted to pit with Elliott when the Byron caution came out.

The reigning Cup champion made it back to fifth, ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who had an anonymous run to sixth in his #4 Mustang machine.

Martin Truex Jr looked like a contender to make it back-to-back wins in the Cup series’ longest event, looking comfortable when he hit the front, although he did not feature much in the race after losing two positions during pit-stops on lap 348 following a Joey Gase spin.

Pole-sitter Kurt Busch was eighth for Chip Ganassi Racing, never really recovering from losing position soon after the race was resumed following the weather delay.

Xfinity series champion Tyler Reddick continued his good form with ninth, following on from a career-best seventh in the first Darlington race, whilst fellow rookie Christopher Bell finished 10th.

Having qualified fourth, Matt Kenseth endured a tricky afternoon, with a spin on lap 275 condemning him to the lower order and an eventual 27th-place finish, while stage three winner Joey Logano slipped to 14th for Penske, after he too decided to pit under the late Byron caution.

Alex Bowman looked serene in the lead of the race, controlling his pace expertly ahead of renowned 1.5-mile circuit driver Truex, until he started to struggle with his tyres and slow pit-work under the Gase caution cost him five places.

The #88 Hendrick driver secured victories in stages one and two, but slipped to 20th at the flag, although he will start the second Charlotte race on Wednesday from pole as the top 20 finishers will be reversed.

JGR’s Denny Hamlin’s race was over before it started as, at least two pieces of tungsten ballast fell out of his #11 Camry on the formation laps to the grid.

He was hauled into the pits by NASCAR officials, as the team worked to rectify the problem and restore ballast to the Toyota.

Hamlin lost eight laps in the pits and did not feature in the race, climbing to 30th at the flag, albeit still seven laps behind winner Keselowski.

If NASCAR opts to enforce the rulebook on the #11 car, Hamlin’s crew chief, car chief and head engineer will be suspended for four races, meaning they will not be able to return until Homestead on June 14th.

Results

Pos Driver Team Gap
1 Brad Keselowski Team Penske 4h29m55.s
2 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 0.674s
3 Ryan Blaney Team Penske 1.218s
4 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing 1.465s
5 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 1.625s
6 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 1.817s
7 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing 1.823s
8 Tyler Reddick Richard Childress Racing 1.894s
9 Christopher Bell Leavine Family Racing 2.272s
10 Chris Buescher Roush Fenway Racing 2.402s
11 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing 2.403s
12 Cole Custer Stewart-Haas Racing 2.821s
13 Joey Logano Team Penske 3.023s
14 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3.217s
15 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 3.492s
16 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports 3.558s
17 Matt DiBenedetto Wood Brothers Racing 3.869s
18 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports 3.908s
19 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 3.939s
20 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports 1 Lap
21 Ross Chastain Spire Motorsports 2 Laps
22 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing 2 Laps
23 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing 2 Laps
24 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 3 Laps
25 Ty Dillon Germain Racing 4 Laps
26 Matt Kenseth Chip Ganassi Racing 4 Laps
27 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing 5 Laps
28 Daniel Suarez Gaunt Brothers Racing 6 Laps
29 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 7 Laps
30 Brennan Poole Premium Motorsports 7 Laps
31 Gray Gaulding Rick Ware Racing 8 Laps
32 B.J. McLeod BJ McLeod Motorsports 12 Laps
33 Garrett Smithley Rick Ware Racing 14 Laps
34 Timmy Hill MBM Motorsports 15 Laps
35 Quin Houff StarCom Racing 15 Laps
36 Joey Gase Petty Ware Racing 20 Laps
37 J.J. Yeley Tommy Baldwin Racing Accident damage
38 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Vibration
39 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Accident
40 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports 0.293s

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