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Thursday, December 8, 2022
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Denny Hamlin Emerges From ‘Stock Car Racing’s Longest Night’ Victorious, Claims Second Win of 2022

Denny Hamlin captured the victory in what was a long-winded race from Charlotte Motor Speedway. PC: Charlotte Motor Speedway | Twitter

I guess they call it “Stock Car Racing’s Longest Night” for a reason.

Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway probably needs its own adjective to explain everything that went on, as the crown jewel produced an incredible and chaotic show for the fans, from start to finish.

The 600-mile contest, which multiple drivers expected to be one of the longest Coke 600s in recent memory, certainly lived up to that hype, becoming only the fourth of its kind to cross over the five-hour mark, in large part due to a whopping 18 cautions.

When the dust settled, it was Denny Hamlin who secured his second NASCAR Cup Series victory of 2022, after a strategy call saw the Joe Gibbs Racing driver elect to take four tires under the race’s penultimate caution, which set up the first of two NASCAR Overtimes.

Though that caution, for a spin in turn two by Chase Briscoe, brought a fantastic battle for the lead between two dirt racers to a screaming halt, as the Stewart-Haas Racing driver had reeled Kyle Larson in from 1.5 seconds behind, over the last 30 laps.

Video: Chase Briscoe Spins With Two Laps to Go, Battling Larson For Win

 

That caution totally changed the completion of the race’s final stage, as drivers were forced to come down pit road to bolt on their final set of sticker tires, for a two-lap shootout for one of the biggest victories on the schedule.

Furthermore, the race still wasn’t in control of polesitter Denny Hamlin, as multiple drivers chose to take two tires, while Hamlin, Austin Dillon, and Kyle Busch elected to take four, something that would pay dividends immediately.

That was until they wrecked battling for the race lead in NASCAR Overtime, which would re-rack the field for a second attempt at a two-lap dash, this time with Hamlin out front.

Kyle Busch would finish in the runner-up position, an amazing feat considering the two-time Cup champion brought out a caution in the race’s first 50 laps, while also having issues with his car in the second half of the race, forcing an unscheduled stop.

Kevin Harvick, despite running outside the top-20 for much of the evening, ended up finishing in third place, with Chase Briscoe – yes, the same guy who spun with three to go — and Christopher Bell rounding out the top-five.

Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Michael McDowell, Kyle Larson, and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-10 in an absolutely insane Coca-Cola 600, with Harrison Burton sitting outside the top-10 to collect a career-best result.

Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series event also featured four separate multi-car accidents, which largely contributed to the dwindling of the field in the closing laps, to the point where only 20 cars were running at the end of 413 laps.

The biggest accident of the evening – in terms of the number of cars — collected a whopping 13 drivers, when Ryan Blaney hit the apron and bounced up the track into the path of the entire pack, taking out fast cars like Bubba Wallace, Kurt Busch, and William Byron.

Video: 13 Cars Ensnarled in Lap 192 Big One During Coca-Cola 600

Not to be outdone, Chris Buescher went for a spectacular ride with just over 50 laps to go in Sunday’s event, flipping wildly down the frontstretch at the 1.5-mile facility. Buescher’s RFK Racing entry would have to be rolled over with help from the safety crew.

Finally exiting the Coca-Cola 600, Chase Elliott leads Ross Chastain in NASCAR Cup Series standings by 34 points, with Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, and Martin Truex Jr. rounding out the top five.

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigleyhttp://tobychristie.com
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at TobyChristie.com

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