Denny Hamlin completes career Winston Million at Charlotte

Spread the love

Denny Hamlin backed off the gas and entered Turn 3 at Charlotte Motor Speedway early on the first overtime attempt, because he figured most of the drivers ahead would “miss the corner.”

“Typically when guys drive in too deep they’re going to wash up the track,” he said. “I needed to make sure I got off the corner really low and with a good run.”

Hamlin overtook Austin Dillon exiting Turn 4 to take the lead, as the field wrecked to his right. He didn’t take the checkered flag before the incident, however. So NASCAR re-stacked the field and tried again.

Teammate Kyle Busch edged him at the line to start the final lap, but just as he did to start the race, Hamlin powered by him in Turn 1 and led him across the finish line to win the 63rd running of the Coca-Cola 600.

“Yeah, it feels great,” Hamlin said. “Obviously it wasn’t looking good for about 398 laps. Considering our day, I was going to be pretty content with a fourth-place finish.”

It’s his 48th NASCAR Cup Series victory in 592 career starts. Which moves him into a tie with NASCAR Hall of Famer Herb Thomas for 16th on the all-time wins list. Furthermore, it checks off the last box for Hamlin, as he becomes the 10th driver to complete the career Winston Million.

“We managed the race,” he said. “We knew we didn’t have the fastest car, the best car by any means, but we just stayed in the race. We didn’t make any mistakes, gave ourselves an opportunity when the opportunity arose for us.”

The top-10

CONCORD, N.C. – MAY 29: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022, in Concord, North Carolina. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Zero-point-one-one-nine seconds.

That’s the margin of victory that relegated Busch to a runner-up finish. He didn’t think there was more he could’ve done to change the result.

“We didn’t have a good enough day to even be in that position,” he said. “Just a strong fight all night long by this M&M’s team. Give honor to those we remember here on Memorial Day weekend. Appreciate the opportunity and being able to do that.

We had Sergeant Thiem on here with this us weekend. Tried to come out with Victory Lane, honor them. Unfortunately one spot short.

Kevin Harvick finished a quiet night on the podium in third.

Chase Briscoe, who brought out the caution that sent the race to overtime, finished fourth and Christopher Bell rounded out the top-five.

Tyler ReddickRicky Stenhouse Jr.Michael McDowellKyle Larson and Alex Bowman rounded out the top-10.

Ross Chastain, who led a race high of 153 laps, finished 14th.

Denny Hamlin completes career Winston Million at Charlotte

Race summary

Stage 1

CONCORD, N.C. – MAY 29: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2022, in Concord, North Carolina. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Hamlin led the field to green at 6:25 p.m. He edged out 23XI Racing employee, Kurt Busch, at the line to lead the first lap. Busch returned the favor on Lap 2, while Hamlin pulled away from him on Lap 3. Teammate Kyle Busch powered by Hamlin on the bottom in Turn 1 to take the lead on Lap 11.

Shortly after the Lap 39 restart, Bubba Wallace edged out Busch at the line to lead Lap 41. Then Busch pulled away, before Daniel Suarez edged him at the line to lead Lap 46.

In a replay of his practice wreck from Saturday, Corey LaJoie cut a tire, spun and plowed the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 61. Suarez brought the field down pit road, while Chase Elliott exited with the lead.

William Byron edged him at the line to lead Lap 69, but Elliott powered by and drove on to win the first stage.

Stage 2

Embed from Getty Images

Back to green on Lap 108, Chastain powered under Elliott into Turn 3 to take the lead on Lap 112. After Wallace spun through the infield on Lap 126, Elliott exited the pits with the lead.

On Lap 146, Austin Cindric cut a left-rear tire and rear-ended the wall in Turn 3. Teammate Ryan Blaney opted not to pit and assumed the lead.

Back to green on Lap 152, Elliott fell back to fourth on the backstretch, then powered by everyone for the lead in Turn 4. Larson spun down the frontstretch chicane on Lap 166 and brought out the caution.

On the ensuing restart (171), Chastain powered by Elliott to retake the lead on Lap 172. With three laps remaining in the stage, however, Suarez overtook him for the lead and drove on to win the second stage.

Joey Logano exited pit road with the race lead.

Stage 3

Embed from Getty Images

Back to green on Lap 209, Suarez overtook Logano in Turn 2 to retake the lead on Lap 215. Chastain took it under caution, but Suarez powered by him on Lap 252 to retake it. Then a slow stop on pit road a few laps later costs him the lead, again, and Chastain exits pit road with it.

Two laps after the restart on Lap 259, Briscoe edged him at the line to take the lead, then sliped up in Turn 2 and lost momentum, handing the lead back to Chastain. Who drove on to win the third stage.

Reddick exited pit road with the race lead.

Run to the finish

Embed from Getty Images

Reddick led the first 23 laps of the final stage, before Chastain reeled in, powered down the bottom in Turn 3 to overtake him for the lead on Lap 324. Larson powered by him to take it on Lap 355.

This set up the run to the finish.

Denny Hamlin completes career Winston Million at Charlotte

What else happened

Chris Buescher, Ryan Preece and Noah Gragson spun in Turn 3, independent of each other, on Lap 18.

Embed from Getty Images

Josh Bilicki spun in Turn 4, but FOX missed the incident. So I don’t know how it happened or what damage resulted from it.

Ryan Blaney triggered a multi-car wreck on Lap 192. Wallace was among them. His team told him to take it easy on old tires, which meant he didn’t meet minimum speed and NASCAR parked him, as a result.

Embed from Getty Images

Daniel Suarez got turned on the frontstretch and triggered a multi-car wreck on Lap 346. Chris Buescher’s right-front wheel dug into a drainage cover and flipped.

Denny Hamlin completes career Winston Million at Charlotte

Nuts and bolts

Embed from Getty Images

The race lasted five hours, 13 minutes and eight seconds, at an average speed of 118.703 mph. There were 31 lead changes among 13 different drivers and 18 cautions for 90 laps.

Elliott leaves Charlotte with a 34-point lead over Chastain.

TOP IMAGE: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images