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Christopher Bell Wins Rain-Shortened Coca-Cola 600 Over Brad Keselowski

Christopher Bell wins rain shortened Coca-Cola 600 Charlotte Motor Speedway 2024

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Christopher Bell has won the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after the race was shortened to 249 laps due to weather. The race was originally scheduled for 600 miles, or 400 laps.

Bell, who led a race-high 90 laps, was the leader of the race when the red flag was displayed for precipitation and lightning, and unfortunately as the track was unable to be dried properly due to humidity from the weather in the area, and that put an early end to NASCAR’s longest race.

The Oklahoma native admits that he expected the race to be called when the rain initially hit the race track, but once the track drying equipment got on track, he felt the race would resume.

“We didn’t know if we were going to go back racing or not, but after the rain stopped, I thought for sure we were going back racing,” Bell said. “I think everybody did. So that one caught me by total surprise when they called the race.”

The official statement from NASCAR at 11:30 PM ET said, “Due to inclement weather, high humidity, and the likelihood of resuming action after 1 AM ET with the track-drying process, the race has been declared official. Christopher Bell is the winner of the 65th Coca-Cola 600.”

This is Bell’s second win of the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season as it joins his win earlier this season at Phoenix Raceway. Overall, this marks Bell’s eighth-career win in the NASCAR Cup Series ranks. Bell was excited to finally check off a Crown Jewel win on his bucket list.

“It feels so good,” Bell said in his post-race press conference. “And really, the last two Coca-Cola 600s, I’ve felt like we’ve had the potential to go to victory lane, and both times we haven’t been able to do it. So to come back in 2024, and we really have been in a slump the last couple of weeks, so to come out here and have a banner day in such a high-profile prestigious event is really big for us.”

Brad Keselowski recorded a runner-up finish in the No. 6 RFK Racing Ford Mustang Dark Horse, and he was obviously disappointed about the early end to Sunday night’s race.

“Yeah, pretty disappointing,” Keselowski remarked. “I feel like we had the car to win the race. We kind of ran down the 20 car twice, and just didn’t get to see it play out. So, yeah, it slipped through our fingers there.”

Keselowski continued, “We ran the Coke 350 today, but all-in-all, really happy with our performance. Car was really fast, pit stops were phenomenal. Just didn’t get to see it through. Bummed for our team, bummed for everybody, right? But the weather is what the weather is.”

William Byron, Tyler Reddick, and Denny Hamlin finished in positions three through five.

Ty Gibbs, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and Josh Berry rounded out the top-10 finishers in the race.

Racing in place of Kyle Larson, Justin Allgaier scored a solid 13th-place finish behind the wheel of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Allgaier, who clawed his way early in the race to stay on the lead lap, was happy once he started to get into the groove in the Next Gen car. Allgaier badly wanted to get to the top-10 before handing the car over to Larson.

“I wanted to be in the top-10,” Allgaier said. “I felt like when the rain came, I felt like we were finally on that verge of being able to break into the top-10. That’s what I really wanted. I was feeling good, everything was great, but at the end of the day, that wasn’t my job. I said earlier, if it was three [Laps] to go, and Kyle was here, we were going to swap out.”

Just before the red flag was displayed, Larson had arrived to the track from the Indianapolis 500, and with a thundering round of applause from the soldout crowd at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Larson ran to the No. 5 team’s pit area.

However, lightning struck within eight miles of the track as soon as Larson got his helmet on, and int he end, he was unable to get behind the wheel to turn an actual lap in the race. After an 18th-place finish in the rain-delayed Indy 500, following a pit road speeding penalty, and then not getting a chance to drive his NASCAR Cup Series car, Larson was very frustrated at the end of the night.

“I’m very, very thankful for the experience, obviously,” Larson said in an interview with Bob Pockrass. “Everything about the two weeks was great, until today. Just sad. Like, everything that could have went wrong today, went wrong. Hopefully get to do it again in the future, and hopefully the weather is better next time.”

While Sunday’s race came in well under the scheduled race distance, the Coca-Cola 373.5 featured a lot of solid action.

10 drivers registered a total of 21 lead changes, and there were seven cautions, the final one being for precipitation, which ultimately resulted in the end of the race.

Defending Coca-Cola 600 race winner and defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney came home 39th in the 40-car field after he slammed the wall on Lap 142. Blaney’s team was unable to repair his car in the allotted time, and the No. 12 Team Penske group retired from the event.

Noah Gragson, who has had a solid season for Stewart-Haas Racing this year, saw his night come to an end on Lap 171 after a tap from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the exit of Turn 2 sent him spinning into the inside wall on the backstretch. Gragson would retire from the race, which would mark just his second DNF of the year.

Harrison Burton and Corey LaJoie would spin in separate accidents on Lap 196 and 229, but both drivers would solider on after their incidents.

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