NASCAR’s longest race needed to get a bit longer Sunday before Brad Keselowski was able to win it. The 36-year-old Penske driver won the Coca-Cola 600 in overtime at Charlotte Motor Speedway, getting his first win of the season and first in one of the signature events of the Cup Series.

Keselowski found himself at the front of the pack, alongside Jimmie Johnson, on the restart for overtime, and he pulled away. The 44-year-old Johnson, in his final full-time season in the Cup Series and seeking a record-tying fifth win in the Coca-Cola 600, had to settle for second.

The race, which was delayed more than an hour midway through the opening stage, spilled into Monday morning before being decided. It was the longest in NASCAR history in terms of mileage.

Coming in third was Chase Elliott, who appeared to be cruising to victory when Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron shredded a tire on Lap 398 of the 400-lap event, bringing out a caution flag and mandating that the race go to a two-lap overtime.

Elliott’s team chose to have him pit prior to the restart, temporarily pushing him back from first to 11th for the final two laps.

Rounding out the top 10 were, in descending order: Ryan Blaney, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell.

May 24, 2020 at 11:54 PM EDT

Elliott takes lead with under 40 laps to go

Chase Elliott took the lead from Brad Keselowski with less than 40 laps left in the Coca-Cola 600.

Brad Keselowski had won a race to the lead off of a restart with 46 laps to go. Jimmie Johnson, seeking his fifth win in Charlotte in his final season as a full-time Cup Series driver, had been first out of pit road moments earlier, but he did not get the push he wanted to stay in front.

Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson was in third with 30 laps left, behind Elliott and Keselowski, driving the No. 2 Penske Ford.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 11:23 PM EDT

Truex regains lead

Martin Truex Jr. is back in the lead after he passed Matt DiBenedetto on lap 312. DiBenedetto rolled the dice on changing only two tires while other drivers on the lead lap opted for four as they pitted after Stage 3. Joey Logano, whose own two-tire gambit helped him win that stage, got loose shortly thereafter, and his major wobble pushed him back in the pack.

After 320 laps, Truex, the defending champion and a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600, led over Jimmie Johnson, seeking his fifth win in the event and first since 2014. Alex Bowman was in third, ahead of Brad Keselowski and DiBenedetto, with Logano sixth.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 11:09 PM EDT

Logano wins Stage 3

Joey Logano held the lead he took on lap 277 through lap 300, giving him the Stage 3 win. The Team Penske driver, who won races at Las Vegas and Phoenix before the novel coronavirus put the Cup Series on hold for 10 weeks, is seeking his first win in the Coca-Cola 600.

Here are the 10 point-getters from Stage 3:

1. Joey Logano

2. Alex Bowman

3. Ryan Blaney

4. Jimmie Johnson

5. Martin Truex Jr.

6. Kyle Busch

7. Erik Jones

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Austin Dillon

10. William Byron

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 11:00 PM EDT

Logano eschews new tires, takes lead from Truex

A gamble by Joey Logano paid immediate dividends, as he opted not to pit for new tires while the field raced under caution in lap 277. That allowed him to take the the lead from Martin Truex Jr., as Logano vies for his third Cup Series win of the season.

Two other drivers who stayed out while others pitted did not fare so well. Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick, without the advantage of “clean air” enjoyed by the race-leading Logano, were quickly overtaken by other cars and were in 18th and 19th place, respectively, as of lap 295.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 10:33 PM EDT

Truex takes the lead

The defending champion is back in front at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. grabbed the lead from Alex Bowman on lap 224, as he seeks his second straight victory in the Coca-Cola 600.

Truex had been stalking Bomwan, the race leader since just over halfway through Stage 1, for several spins around the oval when they encountered a slower car to lap. Joey Gase’s No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Ford got in Bowman’s way just long enough to help Truex slide down the track and bolt ahead.

Truex, representing Joe Gibbs Racing, also won NASCAR’s longest event in 2016.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT

Race pauses for moment of remembrance

At the halfway point of the Coca-Cola 600, the race was brought to a standstill just after Alex Bowman won Stage 2. Drivers lined up along pit road and teams held a moment of remembrance in honor of military members who have lost their lives.

Race organizers previously held a similar ceremony in 2009, when rainfall caused the Coca-Cola 600 to be postponed until Memorial Day.

“People kept talking about that that was so impactful,” Charlotte Motor Speedway executive Greg Walter said last week (via NBC Sports). “So we asked can we do that again? Our sport is so prone to supporting the military and so prone to understanding what the Memorial Day is all about. [We] worked with NASCAR, trying to figure out where we could do this, where [it] would be meaningful and not impact the competition greatly. The end of stage 2 was where we arrived.”

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 10:03 PM EDT

Bowman cruises to Stage 2 win

At the halfway point, this is very much Alex Bowman’s race. The Hendrick Motorsports driver, who replaced Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2018 but lost a major sponsor after last season, separated himself from second-place Martin Truex Jr. over the second 100 mile-stretch of the Coca-Cola 600, taking leads by over six seconds at some points.

Bowman was also the Stage 1 winner, as he seeks his second win of the season, following a March triumph at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Here is the top 10 from Stage 2, all of whom pick up points for their efforts:

1. Alex Bowman

2. Martin Truex Jr.

3. Kyle Busch

4. William Byron

5. Chase Elliott

6. Erik Jones

7. Joey Logano

8. Austin Dillon

9. Ryan Blaney

10. Jimmie Johnson

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 9:02 PM EDT

Bowman takes Stage 1

Alex Bowman won Stage 1 at the Coca-Cola 600, picking up 10 points as the first 100 laps were finished under caution.

Clint Bowyer hit a wall on Lap 97, bringing his car to a standstill and bringing out the race’s first caution flag for an incident. Bowyer appeared unhurt, but his night was over after his No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford blew a tire and sent him into the wall at Turn 1, with the vehicle leaving a cascade of sparks in its wake.

“It knocked the wind out of me,” Bowyer said of his accident in a mid-race interview. Speaking to Fox Sports with a mask on, Bowyer added that he was looking forward to taking off the protective equipment and grabbing a cold beer.

Following Bowman and also picking up points were:

2. Martin Truex Jr.

3. Chase Elliott

4. Tyler Reddick

5. Joey Logano

6. Kyle Busch

7. Austin Dillon

8. Jimmie Johnson

9. William Byron

10. Kurt Busch

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 8:42 PM EDT

Busch loses lead as race resumes following lengthy delay

Drivers waited over an hour for the Coca-Cola 600 to resume amid a rain delay at Charlotte Motor Speedway. At that point, halfway through the 100-mile Stage 1, it didn’t take long for Kurt Busch to fall out of the lead.

Busch, who won the race in 2010, had stayed at the front after winning pole position earlier Sunday. However, after most drivers opted to pit shortly after the restart, he fell back to fifth as Alex Bowman grabbed the lead. Just behind Bowman at the 75-lap mark were Chase Elliott, defending race champion Martin Truex Jr. and rookie Tyler Reddick. By then, Busch was in sixth, behind Joey Logano.

Bowman took only two new tires during that pit stop, enabling him to get back on the track before most of his rivals.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 8:24 PM EDT

Hamlin’s team could face suspensions, fines

As a result of having ballast fall out of Denny Hamlin’s car while the race was still on a pace lap before the initial green flag, his team could face major penalties. According to NASCAR rules (via Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass), “Loss or separation of added ballast from the vehicle will result in a four Race suspension of the crew chief, car chief, and head engineer.”

A large piece of tungsten — used to bring Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota up to a minimum weight that all cars must meet — came off his vehicle and could have caused massive damage to another car had it happened during a race lap. As it was, Hamlin was punished in the moment; his car had to remain at pit row while the problem was solved, keeping him from starting the race until eight laps were already competed.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 7:20 PM EDT

Busch keeps lead as race is delayed

With 50 laps complete at Charlotte Motor Speedway, pole sitter Kurt Busch was still in the lead when a rain delay struck. Defending Coca-Cola 600 champion Martin Truex Jr. moved up from eighth to second, helped by good work in pit row from his Joe Gibbs Racing team.

Holding his position halfway through Stage 1 was Chase Elliott in third, while four-time winner Jimmie Johnson, who started second, fell to 12th. Rookie Tyler Reddick was in fourth at the delay, and Joey Logano, who has two wins already this season, was in fifth.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 6:42 PM EDT

Hamlin falls behind right away

Denny Hamlin fell behind the pack immediately as his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota had to remain in the pit area to get its ballast fixed. Hamlin won Wednesday’s race at Darlington, but he is in trouble right off the bat at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

His team announced on Twitter that he “had tungsten come out of his side rails” and that it needed to be fixed before the car could return to the oval. By the time he left pit row to resume racing, eight laps were completed.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 6:02 PM EDT

Keselowski among five sent to the rear

Brad Keselowski was among five drivers sent to the back for the start of the Coca-Cola 600.

Keselowski, who posted the ninth-fastest time in qualifying Sunday and starts the day sixth in Cup Series points, was penalized for unapproved adjustments, as were J.J. Yeley, Aric Almirola and Timmy Hill. Almirola was already in the 40th and final position after spinning out in qualifying.

Matt DiBenedetto was forced to go to a backup car after hitting a wall during his qualifying lap.

By Des Bieler
May 24, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT

Kurt Busch wins the pole

The first win Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was notched by Kurt Busch, who took the pole. The 2010 Coca-Cola 600 winner posted a time of 181.269 mph for a lap around the 1.5-mile track, putting his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet at the front of the starting grid for the main event.

Busch edged four-time winner Jimmie Johnson, who turned in a lap time of 181.214 in what he has said will be his final Cup Series season.

Chase Elliott, Matt Kenseth, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon were next, meaning the top six starting spots went to Chevrolet drivers.

Matt DiBenedetto hit a wall coming out of Turn 4, and while he managed to qualify 33rd out of 40 drivers, he was forced to go to a backup car for the race. Aric Almirola spun out during his turn and will start at the back.

It was the 28th pole of Busch’s Cup Series career. Qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600 was held on the same day as the race to keep drivers and teams from having to come to the track more than necessary amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

By Des Bieler