CONCORD, N.C. — It was the longest wait for the longest race, and it ended on a very long day. And it marked the end of a long winless streak.
Ryan Blaney sprinted away from William Byron in the closing laps of Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and ended a 59-race winless streak.
Byron finished second and was followed by Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.
Blaney pushed through several late-race restarts and held on to finally write finish to a frustrating losing string.
“You start to feel like you can’t win any more when you don’t win for a while,” an emotional Blaney said after the race.
Following the lead of his Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden, who won Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 and went into the stands to celebrate with fans, Blaney ran into the CMS frontstretch grandstands after grabbing the checkered flag.
Contender Kyle Larson lost control of his car on a restart with 26 laps to go, starting a crash that also involved Joey Logano, Ty Gibbs and Christopher Bell.
The race was postponed by rain Sunday and was delayed by showers Monday. Rain had soaked the track most of the weekend, postponing the Cup and Xfinity Series races and cancelling Saturday night’s Cup practice and qualifying. Monday’s forecast was better, but the weather refused to cooperate. Rain interrupted the Xfinity race, which started at 11 a.m., and another shower stopped the Cup race during the second stage.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, which advertises itself as “America’s Home for Racing,” had become America’s home for raining.
A mid-race collision between Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin left their cars seriously damaged and their feelings hurt. They were racing in close quarters on lap 186 when extended contact between the two cars sent Hamlin hard into the wall, resulting in major front-end damage. Elliott’s car sustained serious rear damage.
Hamlin said Elliott had a “tantrum” and that he should be suspended for the next race for what Hamlin called “a right rear hook.” Elliott denied intentionally wrecking Hamlin.
A few laps earlier, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski crashed.
The third-stage win went to Blaney. Following were Reddick, Truex, Byron and Ty Gibbs.
Chris Buescher won the second stage, leading Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Joey Logano and Gibbs.
Byron won the first stage, leading a three-way battle with Christopher Bell and Blaney on the 100th lap. Bell was second, Blaney third, Reddick fourth and Truex Jr. fifth.
A crash involving Bubba Wallace and Aric Almirola resulted in the drivers having a tense red-flag discussion. Almirola shoved Wallace before the altercation was broken up.
Stage 1 winner: William Byron
Stage 2 winner: Chris Buescher
Stage 3 winner: Ryan Blaney
Who had a good race: Ryan Blaney had the day’s fastest car and held off a following herd over the final miles. … William Byron was strong throughout the race but couldn’t challenge Blaney at the end.
Who had a bad race: Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson had a tough day in his third race of the year. He lost control of his car in Turn 2 74 laps into the race and slapped the outside wall. He lost a lap in the pits and ultimately finished last. … Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had top-10 cars but both left the race after a controversial collision near the halfway point.
Next: The series moves on to World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois for a June 4 race at 3:30 p.m. ET.