Polesitter Denny Hamlin Overcomes Chaso To Win Wild Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 At Charlotte

Denny Hamlin celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday (Photo: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

May 29, 2022

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway started with Denny Hamlin out front and ended with Denny Hamlin out front.

What happened in-between defied belief. And a driver who claims to thrive in chaos proved to be a man of his word.

Hamlin won the longest race in NASCAR history—619.5 miles—in two overtimes, beating Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch to the finish line by .014 seconds.

With the victory—the second this season and the 48th of his career—Hamlin now holds trophies in all three of NASCAR’s Crown Jewel races: the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Southern 500. Kevin Harvick is the only other active driver with all three titles. 

Hamlin’s victory spoiled what could have been one of the most astonishing comebacks in racing history. Kyle Larson started from the rear in a repaired car, suffered three pit road penalties, a spin off Turn 4 and a fire in his pit stall but—miraculously—was leading the race on the next-to-last lap of regulation when Chase Briscoe spun underneath him while battling for the lead and caused the 17th caution of the night.

A wreck on the first attempt at overtime collected Larson’s No. 5 Chevrolet and scrambled the running order, leaving Hamlin in the lead on four fresh tires.

“The first half (of the race) was a struggle for all of us,” said Larson, who finished ninth. “I was especially frustrated with myself. To rebound from that and have a shot to win there late was something to be proud of. Our team fought really hard. Happy with that.

“Briscoe was really good, that long run there. Wish we would have just been a little bit better so he never would have got to me, ultimately spin.”

After the second overtime restart, Hamlin and Busch battled side-by-side until Hamlin pulled ahead on Lap 412 of 413, 13 laps beyond the scheduled distance. Busch rallied but couldn’t get back to Hamlin’s bumper. 

“It’s so special,” Hamlin said. “It’s the last big one that’s not on my résumé. It meant so much.

“Man, we weren’t very good all day. Just got ourselves in the right place at the right time. What a battle there!”

Hamlin, however, was far from the likely winner as the race unfolded. Daniel Suarez arguably had the fastest car. His Trackhouse Racing teammate, Ross Chastain, led 153 laps—more than any other driver.  

In the closing stages of regulation, it appeared for all the world that Larson and Briscoe would decide the outcome between them, until Briscoe spun as he was attempting to pass the reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion to the inside. 

But in the first attempt at overtime, Austin Dillon’s bold move on four fresh tires to Larson’s two went awry off Turn 4, damaging seven cars and setting up Hamlin’s win in the second overtime.  

That was merely the concluding chapter in a five-hour thriller.

On a night that already had seen a surfeit of breathtaking action, Suarez’s Chevrolet turned sideways on Lap 346 after contact with Briscoe’s Ford an ignited a four-car wreck that ended with Chris Buescher’s Ford barrel-rolling five times through the frontstretch infield and landing on its roof.

Buescher climbed from his car uninjured, but a strong run for the Roush Fenway Keselowski driver ended abruptly. So did a remarkable run from Suarez, who had led four times for 38 laps, only to lose spots on every pit stop, with the cars of Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin blocking his egress from pit road.

“I’m going to be a bit sore tomorrow,” Buescher said after an obligatory trip to the infield care center. “I haven’t been upside-down in a really long time.  The team did a really nice job.  We had great speed and had a chance at this thing, it just didn’t work out.”

The opening laps of the event were an omen of things to come.

How intense was the racing? Here’s a microcosm: The first lap ended in a dead heat, with Kurt Busch nosing ahead of Hamlin by less than one thousandth of a second. Racing side-by-side with Hamlin, Busch extended his lead to .004 seconds on Lap 2—roughly six inches.

A determined Hamlin regained the top spot on Lap 3, but only by .011 seconds. The opening action set the tone for the entire race, which produced 31 lead changes between 13 different drivers. 

But what happened at the front of the field was multiplied exponentially by aggressive, close-quarters racing throughout the pack.

On Lap 192—eight laps short of the halfway point—the close-quarters competition ended badly. In the second turn after a restart following the 10th caution, Ryan Blaney’s No. 12 Ford hooked the apron with the left-front tire and spun sideways. 

That misstep triggered a 13-car wreck that eliminated the contending cars of Blaney, Kurt Busch and William Byron. 

“I was tucked up tight behind the 8 (Tyler Reddick), and he was kind of lower than I thought on the frontstretch and kind of ran through the turf, and then got to (Turn) 1 and jerked right,” Blaney said after the wreck.  

“I think he was up behind the 99 (Suarez) and thinking he was going hit the apron, and I didn’t have time to kind of get right, and I just kind of hit the apron and got me loose. I hate that other cars got tore up.”  

That wreck wouldn’t be the last. By the end of the race, 17 pf the 37 cars that started the event already sat in the garage in various states of disrepair.

Kevin Harvick soldiered to a third-place finish, followed by Briscoe and Christopher Bell. Tyler Reddick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Michael McDowell, Larson and Alex Bowman completed the top 10. 

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 63rd Annual COCA-COLA 600

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Concord, North Carolina

Sunday, May 29, 2022

               1. (1)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 413.

               2. (4)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 413.

               3. (18)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 413.

               4. (15)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 413.

               5. (3)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 413.

               6. (8)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 413.

               7. (29)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 413.

               8. (10)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 413.

               9. (36)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 413.

               10. (9)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 413.

               11. (17)  Harrison Burton #, Ford, 413.

               12. (14)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 413.

               13. (28)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 413.

               14. (25)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 413.

               15. (22)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 413.

               16. (30)  Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 413.

               17. (24)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 412.

               18. (33)  Cody Ware, Ford, 412.

               19. (31)  BJ McLeod, Ford, 407.

               20. (23)  Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 405.

               21. (21)  Cole Custer, Ford, Accident, 405.

               22. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 405.

               23. (34)  Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 400.

               24. (27)  Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, Throttle, 386.

               25. (12)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, Accident, 346.

               26. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 346.

               27. (20)  Justin Haley, Chevrolet, Engine, 343.

               28. (7)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, DVP, 200.

               29. (11)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 195.

               30. (35)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 193.

               31. (2)  Kurt Busch, Toyota, Accident, 191.

               32. (5)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 191.

               33. (13)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, DVP, 188.

               34. (6)  Austin Cindric #, Ford, Accident, 145.

               35. (37)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Accident, 60.

               36. (32)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 31.

               37. (26)  Ryan Preece(i), Ford, DVP, 16.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  118.703 mph.

Time of Race:  5 Hrs, 13 Mins, 8 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.119 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  18 for 90 laps.

Lead Changes:  31 among 13 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 0;K. Busch 1-2;D. Hamlin 3-9;K. Busch 10-39;B. Wallace 40;K. Busch 41-45;D. Suarez 46-62;C. Elliott 63-66;W. Byron 67;C. Elliott 68-110;R. Chastain 111-128;C. Elliott 129-148;R. Blaney 149-150;K. Larson 151;C. Elliott 152-170;R. Chastain 171-196;D. Suarez 197-204;J. Logano 205-213;D. Suarez 214-220;R. Chastain 221-251;D. Suarez 252-255;R. Chastain 256-259;C. Briscoe 260;R. Chastain 261-303;T. Reddick 304-322;R. Chastain 323-353;K. Larson 354-395;C. Briscoe 396;K. Larson 397-404;D. Hamlin 405-411;K. Busch 412;D. Hamlin 413.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Ross Chastain 6 times for 153 laps; Chase Elliott 4 times for 86 laps; Kyle Larson 3 times for 51 laps; Daniel Suarez 4 times for 36 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 36 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 19 laps; Denny Hamlin 3 times for 15 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 9 laps; Ryan Blaney 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Briscoe 2 times for 2 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 2 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 1 lap; William Byron 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,8,20,1,23,12,47,19,48,11

Stage #2 Top Ten: 99,1,43,14,47,22,4,8,19,20

Stage #3 Top Ten: 1,14,5,8,99,22,41,17,3,11


  1. Well written article. NASCAR is turning into races where the winner is more like the lucky survivor. Some of the young guns care more about wining a race than placing well. It must be that the winner qualifies for the championship playoffs perhaps? A stupid system that has brought on this style of racing and it has changed the sport a lot. I have mixed feelings about the championship now. Not reflective of the overall finishes (points) for the entire season. A driver could race well in one race, win it and then win the championship running the minimum number of races . . . . . . NASCAR killing the golden goose slowly and surely.

  2. Well, one thing for certain, while it was a long race, it was not taxi cab. And if one might think that was the case, then they were not watching the same race i watched.
    Look, nothing is perfect. And,, a lot of people like to bash the “golden goose”. But for me, I’ll tell you what. That race had more twists and turns than the Roval road course. And again, while not perfect, I think Nascar has really done something with the next gen car. Carnage (lets face it it sells) for the casual fan that insist on it, but at the end of the day, great racing, and you had no idea how it was going to end. A boatload of entertainment value. Nascar mission accomplished. As a side note, does anyone do any better of a job honoring our veterans and war heroes? Worth watching it for that alone.
    As for Preece, I’d like to say that it’s Rick Ware boat anchors, regardless that they supposedly have support from Haas.
    For me, you can simulate all you want, but Preece way behind on curve in next gen cars. His second start in next gen, this one on a tricky mile and a halfer. It shows. It took the top guys in the series quite a bit to get a handle on these things, and they still talk about how much of a challenge they are to drive on those mile and a half tracks. Gotta have seat time no matter who you are.
    Preece isnt getting it. We’ll see.

  3. If people like wrecks go to a demo derby. The next gen cars suck. The racing is poor. Lots of follow the leader. Winning and losing in the pits. YUK! NASCAR was much better way back when TNN carried the races. Old enough to remember those days? True engineering was going on. The bad thing was the cars were not very safe.

  4. I respect your opinion pete.
    But, something had to change in the top series.
    It has. We can split hairs over whether better or worse.
    And I get it. But, one might say Nascar has taken notice, or why would they not try and do something different? Charlotte was no taxi cab, nor was it advertised to be a demo derby. Things take time.
    I will respectfully disagree on one point.
    There is a boatload of thought and engineering, testing, with input from teams and drivers, on the new next gen cars. Been following about it all for 2 yrs +. For better, or for worse. And this may not be final solution. But nascar has to be paying attention. Or the money would not be spent. Bottom line. Thats for certain.

  5. Fast Eddie says

    I have what may be an “out in left field” theory on all the spins. The old tires had sidewalls that would flex a little before losing traction, something experienced drivers could feel. Then they could correct and turn a potential spin into a slide. You don’t have that with these bigger low profile tires. Less sidewall, less flex, less warning it’s about to spin. Much lees chance for a driver to catch it with less warning and “feel” that it’s about to happen.

  6. Most of the innovation is long gone. With NASCAR going to one supplier for all the parts they are making a profit off all the teams every car. Other manufacturers are excluded. I had friends that ran a limited NASCAR schedule back in the old days. They had 6 cars. Two for the short tracks, two for the mile and a half and two for the super speedways. Most were bought (year or two old) from the regular full schedule runners. This is no longer possible as teams cannot run any old cars. Where did all the old cars go? NASCAR is for the very wealthy and not the actual racers. The truck races are for rich kids as are many of the Xfinity racers.

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