Brad Keselowski held off Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott to score his first Coca-Cola 600 victory Sunday night (May 24) at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
From the lead, Elliott pitted under the final caution period before NASCAR overtime. Keselowski and Johnson stayed out, inheriting the Top-2 positions.
Keselowski picked up his first NASCAR Cup Series win of 2020 and the 31st of his career.
“I know the race ran really late, but Memorial Day is about a lot more than racing, but we’re glad to be able to do cool things like racing because of the freedom provided by those willing to make the sacrifices,” Keselowski said.
Johnson crossed the line second, but his racecar failed post-race inspection, resulting in a 40th-place finish.
Elliott was leading the race when teammate William Byron spun out with two laps remaining in the scheduled distance.
Pitting under caution, Elliott restarted overtime in 11th place. He was able to claw back for his highest finish of the season in second.
“Just trying to make the best decision you can and those guys are going to do the opposite of whatever we do,” Elliott said. “That’s just part of it. You make decisions and live with them.”
Ryan Blaney earned his first Top-5 finish since the season-opening Daytona 500 with his third-place effort.
“I thought our car was pretty competitive, probably not the best car out there, but definitely a top-five car all night,” Blaney said. “It was a good call to stay out there at the end, I thought. We restarted fourth and gave us a chance.”
Defending series champion Kyle Busch finished inside the Top-5 in fourth. It was his second consecutive Top-5 effort.
“We were lucky to steal a fifth place finish out of it today and we’ll have to go back to work and figure out some things to make our stuff better for when we come back on Wednesday and get back after it,” Busch said.
“I certainly want to give a huge shout out and a huge thanks to all the men and women who have served for our country here on Memorial Day weekend, we appreciate you.”
Kevin Harvick, the current points leader, rounded out the Top-5. He is the only driver to place inside the Top-10 in each of the first seven points-awarding races this season.
Dating back to October of last year, Harvick has finished inside the Top-10 in the last 12 races.
THROUGH THE FIELD
Martin Truex Jr. — last year’s winner — along with Kurt Busch, the polesitter, finished sixth and seventh respectively.
Rookies Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell finished eighth and ninth respectively. Chris Buscher rounded out the Top-10.
Joey Logano, winner of Stage 3, finished 13th.
Alex Bowman, who won the first two stages and led the most laps (164), finished 19th.
“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.”
Johnson was credited with a last-place finish. The seven-time series champion has not won in 102 starts, the longest losing streak of his career.
Keselowski is now tied with fellow past champion Kurt Busch for 26th all-time on the series’ wins list.
The next five drivers ahead of Busch and Keselowski are Dale Jarrett (32), Fireball Roberts (33), Bobby Isaac (37), Matt Kenseth (39) and Denny Hamlin (39).
The next race for the Cup Series is scheduled for Wednesday, May 28; the Alsco Uniforms 500k at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.