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CONCORD, NC – Brad Keselowski extended Jimmie Johnson’s streak of bad luck to 102 races and held back the seven-time NASCAR champion in early Monday’s extension in the Coca-Cola 600.
Keselowski started in the back of the field, worked his way up the Charlotte Motor Speedway and played without pitting when caution prevented Chase Elliott from winning two rounds before the end.
Elliott hit the pits and Keselowski led a train with eight cars that fell by the wayside. He positioned himself in front of Alex Bowman on the inside line, while Johnson ̵
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Keselowski got the impetus to get some fresh air and Johnson won. Keselowski celebrated as usual by waving a huge American flag out of the window during his victory fire.
“I feel like I threw this race away a few times and I thought we would lose it today,” said Keselowski. “I lost it the way Chase lost it and it really stinks. And today we finally won it like that. “
It is the first win for Keselowski this season, his first Coca-Cola 600 win and the first win at this event for Ford since 2002.
Johnson finished second in a Chevrolet, while Elliott, who won just two laps from the finish, moved up to third place for Hendrick to take two podiums.
Elliott had a comfortable lead and rolled to victory when Hendrick Motorsport’s teammate William Byron turned with a tire problem.
“That must be a joke,” said Elliott on his radio.
Elliott was destroyed by Kyle Busch last week when he tried to race for victory on Wednesday night at the Darlington (S.C.) raceway.
The Sunday before Memorial Day is said to be a smorgasbord of motorsport that starts with Formula 1 at the Monaco Grand Prix, then with IndyCar and the 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 the F1 schedule and, like IndyCar, is still waiting for the season to start. Roger Penske, the new owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, moved the Indy 500. It is the first time since 1946 that the 500 is no longer driven on Memorial Day weekend.
NASCAR was able to advance its third cup event in seven days as part of a government-approved health plan that allowed sports to resume after a ten-week break. NASCAR ran three events in South Carolina and the Coca-Cola 600 started four consecutive days of racing in Charlotte.
A rain delay of almost 90 minutes during the first leg of the race brought the finish to Monday, but it was still fine for Penske, the owner of Keselowski’s car.
Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin had destroyed his attempt to win another crown jewel event before the race even started.
During the pace laps, a piece of tungsten flew from Hamlin’s car and Hamlin had to return to the pit lane to get the weight back into his Toyota.
Hamlin was eight laps back when he finally joined the race. The penalty for tungsten coming out of a car is a four-race ban for the crew boss according to the NASCAR rules.
Hamlin, winner at Darlington Raceway on Wednesday night, was obviously frustrated when his Joe Gibbs Racing team worked on reapplying Wolfram.
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“Let me know when it is” no return “and we can just go home,” said Hamlin.
“No,” crew chief Chris Gabehart replied. “We can’t do that.”
The tungsten in question weighs 35 pounds and costs $ 1,877 from the supplier. If it falls off a car during competition, it can cause serious damage if another vehicle hits it. The ballast is added to meet NASCAR’s minimum weight requirements. When disconnected from the car, it is an automatic four-race suspension for the crew boss.
NASCAR started the race and completed 49 laps before the rain caused caution. The cars were brought to the pit lane and put back a lap later when it was raining and the race was on the red flag. It was resumed after a rain delay of almost 80 minutes.
Kurt Busch started from pole position and was still leading when the rain started at the only event on the biggest day of the car race.
Matt DiBenedetto and Tampa’s Aric Almirola crashed in qualifying. DiBenedetto needed a replacement Ford from The Wood Brothers, and Stewart-Haas Racing repaired Almirola’s damaged Ford. Almirola turned 16th.
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Railway officials consider the 600 a lavish tribute to the military and fallen heroes, but most have been scrapped because viewers are not yet allowed to participate in NASCAR races. NASCAR President Steve Phelps told the Associated Press that he did not believe viewers would participate in races at least through Talladega on June 21. The last race published the current revised NASCAR schedule.
NASCAR has included 20 national series races on the Darlington Raceway between Talladega and its resumption on May 17.