Brad Keselowski took his first Coca-Cola 600 win Sunday night, surviving a late-race restart with just two to go to take victory in the longest NASCAR Cup Series race of the season.
Keselowski’s No. 2 team decided to stay out on old tires when the caution flag came out for the No. 24 of William Byron with just two laps remaining. Chase Elliott, who was leading when the yellow came, decided to do the opposite of Keselowski and take a set of fresh rubber for the two-lap overtime shootout on Lap 404.
This shuffled Elliott back to 11th for the restart, but he had managed to work his way back up to third by the final lap. Unfortunately for Elliott, this is where his No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 would stay, with the 24-year old unable to reel in the second place car of Jimmie Johnson. Johnson was later disqualified after his No. 48 Camaro ZL1 failed post-race inspection, bumping Elliott up to second.
While Elliott was upset with the outcome post-race, he didn’t blame his crew for calling him into the pits for fresh rubber, as they were simply trying to do the opposite of whatever Keselowski did to give them a shot at the win.
“You just try to make the best decision you can,” Elliott told NASCAR.com. “Those guys are just going to do the opposite of whatever we do. That’s just a part of it. You make decisions and you live with them. It wasn’t the pit call — I think being on offense is fine.”
“Like I said, those guys are going to do whatever’s the opposite of what you do.”
Elliott had passed Keselowski for first on Lap 363 and extended his lead over the next 30 or so laps, making Byron’s late-race spin, which was caused by a cut tire, a lucky turn of events for the No. 2. Keselowski noted after the race that he had lost the Coca-Cola 600 in similar fashion in the past, so he feels as though he’s gotten his comeuppance with this victory.
“I feel like I’ve thrown this race away a couple of times, and I thought we were going to lose it today,” said Keselowski. “I know we’ve lost it the way Chase lost it, and that really stinks, and today we finally won it that way.”
Check out the video embedded below for complete highlights from the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway. NASCAR will hold another race at Charlotte on Wednesday, the Alsco 500, as part of its revised post-pandemic schedule.