Ryan Blaney ends winless streak with dominating win in Coca-Cola 600
Monday’s victory marked the first for Blaney since winning at Daytona in August 2021.
CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Ryan Blaney won Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, ending his 59-race winless streak in dominating fashion.
Blaney, who started eighth, led a race-high 163 laps en route to his first victory since winning at Daytona in August 2021.
The driver of the No. 12 held off William Byron on the race’s final restart with 19 laps to go, notching his first on the Charlotte oval. He won on the ROVAL, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s infield road course, in 2018.
The win all-but locks Blaney into NASCAR’s Playoffs, which he has made every year since 2017.
Prior to Monday’s race, the 29-year-old picked up a pair of second-place finishes earlier this season, coming at Phoenix and Talladega. He also finished third at Dover.
Byron, the second-place finisher, led the second-most laps of the race, leading 92 of the 400 circuits.
Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick rounded out the top five. Kyle Busch, who started on the pole, rebounded after a spin to finish sixth. Rookie Zane Smith, driving the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports, scored his first career top 10.
NASCAR’s longest race of 2023 featured 31 lead changes and 13 different leaders, as well as 16 cautions, which were the third-most ever in the 600-mile event.
The race, which was initially slated to start Sunday evening, didn’t see the green flag until after 3 p.m. Monday due to the rain.
Showers stayed away until the middle of Stage 2 when light rainfall drew the red flag, stopping the race for about a half hour.
Less than 30 laps after restarting the race, stars Denny Hamlin and Chase Elliott crashed out after Hamlin drove Elliott into the Turn 4 wall, prompting Elliott to turn back left into the rear of Hamlin’s car, sending them both into the outside wall.
After he was released from the infield care center, Hamlin called Elliott’s driving “unacceptable” and said “he shouldn’t be racing.” The pair scored 34th and 35th in the final running order.
Monday’s incident isn’t the first time Hamlin and Elliott have gotten into it. The two infamously fought after a race at Martinsville Speedway in 2017, when Hamlin turned Elliott with less than three to go as the latter was chasing his first Cup win.
Seven-time Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson made his third start of the season in Monday’s race, and drove his way up from 37th to 24th before he spun out and made contact with the wall on lap 75. He spun a second time on lap 164 after making contact with his teammate, Noah Gragson, ending his day. The next race on Johnson’s schedule is the Chicago street race on July 2.
Cup drivers will head to the Midwest for next week’s race at the 1.25-mile oval at World Wide Technology Raceway. Team Penske’s Joey Logano is the defending winner at the track in Illinois.
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