Denny Hamlin Ends Up A Surprise Winner In Coca-Cola 600

This was the weekend that racing enthusiasts salivate over. First it was the Indy 500 with a huge crowd to watch a spectacular race won by Marcus Ericsson. Ericsson is an F1 transfer that never saw the podium in his career.

He had only 2 wins so far in his short Indy career but Chip Ganassi was looking to stock the race in an effort to end a decade-long Indy 500 drought.

Just like the 600, the 500 saw a late crash that that made the final laps for the winner ever sweeter.

After Denny Hamlin won the pole for the 600, he only finished in the Top 10 in Stages 1 and 3 and never really looked like what you would call a race winner. But like the King said, do the best you can to put yourself in a position to win. And Hamlin certainly did that.

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When the rest of the leaders decide to wreck out of the race, that left the pieces to pick up for everyone else.

With this being one of the best 600s I think I have ever seen, you have to wonder if the new car is a perfect match for tracks like Charlotte. And you also have to love the fact that we have more drivers contending for wins than we have seen in recent years.

But that’s why we race, right? It doesn’t matter that Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon all looked like probable winners, It’s not the Coca-Cola 200 or 300 or heck, even 400. It’s the 600. Man and machine have to make it through the longest race of the season to be crowned the winner.

But all those drivers surely could have won if the racing gods had not interfered and that, to me, is what is super exciting about this season. And you add to it the durability of this car, except for wheels falling off, and you have a win-win season shaping up. I enjoy seeing these young drivers leading the races and some even winning. The fact that Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and MTJ are not always in the top 10 leaders or finishers is exciting. But the name of the game in NASCAR is how you close the deal and the 600 put Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick 1-2-3. They survived when others didn’t. That is often the mark of a veteran team.

But you have to hand it to Kyle Larson, Briscoe, Suarez, Reddick and Chastain – they sure are making this season exciting to watch.

Good on ya, mate

  • Denny Hamlin (P1) was the beneficiary of a lot of attrition. He and Ross Chastain are only two-time winners this year.
  • Kyle Busch (P2) fought Denny for the win in the closing laps.
  • Kevin Harvick (P3) kind of came out of nowhere for third.
  • Chase Briscoe (P4) sure goes for the win when he is up in the front.
  • Christopher Bell (P5) keeps hanging around and may get a win this season if he can coax a bit more speed out of his car. Maybe this weekend?
  • Tyler Reddick (P6) has been a thrill to watch this season.
  • Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (P7) is either starting to figure things out or he has been really lucky as of late.
  • Michael McDowell (P8) got a rare Top 10.
  • Kyle Larson (P10) fought off speeding penalties, pit penalties and the wall. He could have won this race in spite of all that.
  • Harrison Burton (P11) hung on for a decent finish.
  • Ross Chastain (P15) looked like a surefire winner – so close and led a race high 153 laps.

So you had a bad day

  • Joey Logano (P20) looked like he had a car that could hang with the leaders but wrecked out.
  • Austin Dillon (P22) was there right to the end when they went 4-wide and that never turns out well.
  • Daniel Suarez (P25) looked really strong until he ran out of experience. This time next year he doesn’t make that move.
  • Chris Buescher (P26) did a barrel roll in the Suarez mix up. Thankfully he is OK.
  • Bubba Wallace (P28) actually ran well until he was wrecked.
  • Ryan Blaney (P29) needed some more situational awareness.
  • Kurt Busch (P31) was one of the early exits and one of 17 in the garage at the end.
  • Chase Elliott (P33) won Stage 1 and then didn’t make it to Stage 3.

Next up: World Wide Technology Raceway

Where?? Well, it’s the former Gateway track in Madison, Illinois and it looks a lot like Darlington. Needless to say, Cup cars haven’t been racing at WWTR so if anyone has experience, it will be Camping World Truck drivers and Xfinity drivers. You have to look at Kyle Busch as a veteran driver with plenty of Xfinity and Truck series experience. But there are plenty of young drivers with more recent experience in both Truck and Xfinity so we may see them take to the track sooner than many of the veterans.

In any case, I am looking forward to an exciting race with a lot of unknowns. I haven’t seen the entry list for the Truck race at WWTR, but I wonder if it will be full of Cup drivers….

Leave your thoughts and comments below, and check out my other columns by clicking here.  Thanks for reading.

(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images/NASCAR Media)

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