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Elliott’s Suspension Overshadows Blaney’s Victory In Charlotte

CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA - MAY 29: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #12 BodyArmor Cherry Lime Ford, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29, 2023 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Ryan Blaney snapped a 59-race winless streak while Chase Elliott earned a suspension during a rain delayed Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte.

The buzz around the NASCAR Cup Series this week is all about Chase Elliott. On lap 186, NASCAR’s most popular driver turned left into Denny Hamlin sending him head-on into the wall. Hamlin was furious afterward, saying Elliott got mad and threw a tantrum after bouncing off the wall. On Tuesday, NASCAR agreed with Hamlin and suspended Chase Elliott for next weekend’s Cup Series race at Gateway.

The incident is almost a carbon copy of last year’s incident at Kansas where Bubba Wallace intentionally wrecked Kyle Larson. Wallace was also handed a one-race suspension for his actions.

While his competitors have noted times that Elliott lost his cool on track before, part of what makes Elliott so popular is his “good guy” reputation. Turning a driver head-on into the wall at over 150 mph is certainly a knock to that reputation.

Ryan Blaney Ends Winless Streak

After driving a dominant car to victory lane in Charlotte, the emotion in Ryan Blaney’s voice was evident. Blaney led seven different times for a race-high 163 laps on his way to winning one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events. In a race where several potential winning cars had issues, Blaney’s #12 car was consistently in the top five. He withstood late-race restarts and held off a speedy William Byron late to win for the first time since Daytona in the summer of 2021.

Monday’s win was also a crowning achievement for Blaney’s car owner, Roger Penske. For the first time, his race teams won the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same Memorial Day Weekend. Josef Newgarden took the checkered flag in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske in a controversial finish.

Great Finishes For Zane Smith and J.J. Yeley

NASCAR’s longest race has a history of rewarding first-timers in the Cup Series. Zane Smith is the latest rookie to find scoring his first career Top 10 finish. Smith finished 10th after staying out of trouble all day and surviving a handful of late cautions. Putting Smith in the #38 car for six races this year was an interesting decision when announced. The move effectively demoted the car’s full-time driver, Todd Gilliland, in favor of Smith, Ford’s top development driver, for those six races. Just finishing was the goal for Smith, so a Top 10 finish had him ecstatic when the race ended.

J.J. Yeley is another driver who finished higher than expected in Charlotte. Yeley finished in 16th on the lead lap for Rick Ware Racing. The 16th place finish is the highest ever for a Rick Ware Racing car on a track that isn’t a superspeedway or road course.

Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series is World Wide Technology Raceway for the Enjoy Illinois 300 this Sunday, June 4th at 3:30 p.m.

Featured Image Credit: Logan Riely/Getty Images


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