Martin Truex Jr. won the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway Sunday. The win wasn’t an easy one, and there were questions as to whether the entire race would be run. Here’s how it all went down Sunday in Charlotte.
Racing the weather as much as each other, NASCAR moved the start time up by an hour. Denny Hamlin led the field to the green from his first pole of the season. Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
Kenseth stumbled and did not take off at the start. Hamlin had a clear lead by turn 1, Harvick took second, Bowyer third; Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott were fighting for fourth. Elliott have fourth by the second lap. Kenseth had recovered and was looking for fifth from Busch. He had the spot by lap 4 as Busch was sliding back; Kasey Kahne had sixth on lap 5.
Harvick was looking for the lead by lap 9.
Kyle Busch took fifth back from Bowyer on lap 14. Bowyer reported a vibration.
Hamlin began lapping the field on lap 18. Harvick continued to stay close.
Because of rain the night before NASCAR had called a competition caution on lap 35; that was the first caution of the day when it came out. There were 32 cars on the lead lap.
The leaders all pitted. Kyle Larson took no tires and was out first; Hamlin, Harvick, Elliott and Kyle Busch followed all with four tires. As it turned out, Larson had missed his pit stall; he dove back in the next lap handing the lead back to Hamlin. Larson restarted 31st when the green came out to start lap 41.
Hamlin jumped to the lead bringing Elliott with him for second; Elliot had the top spot by the end of the lap as Harvick followed into second; Jamie McMurray took fourth, Kenseth fifth.
The second caution came out on lap 48 when Ryan Newman spun out of turn 2 after Bowyer hit the wall, bounced off and hit Newman. Newman’s car was on fire but the flames were out by the time he rolled to a stop in turn 4. Bowyer was able to continue with damage.
The leaders stayed out as several deeper in the field pitted.
Green came out to start lap 52; Elliott blocked Hamlin and shot to the lead on the inside; Harvick was looking for the lead on the outside and had the top spot by the end of the lap. McMurray was third, Kyle Busch fourth, Hamlin settled into fifth.
Busch was looking third by lap 58. Larson had recovered and was inside the top 10 in seventh.
McMurray and Busch were side by side for third on lap 65; Larson was fifth by lap 74, and was the fastest car on the track.
As Busch and McMurray were fighting for position, Larson arrived on the scene on lap 82. The lead for Harvick was just over two seconds with 10 laps to go in the stage.
Larson took fourth on lap 84. He was looking for third on the final lap of the stage, but McMurray was able to hold him off.
Top 10 Stage 1: Harvick, Elliott, McMurray, Larson, Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Daniel Suarez, and Jimmie Johnson. The leaders pitted. McMurray was out first followed by Kyle Busch, Harvick, Larson and Kenseth.
Green came out to start lap 98; Kyle Busch and McMurry were side by side with Busch taking the lead by the end of the lap; Harvick took second and was soon looking for the lead. McMurray settled into third.
Larson took third on lap 101 and was soon looking for second. McMurray was fourth, Elliott fifth.
Elliott took fourth on lap 108; Kenseth followed into fifth.
Michael McDowell spun entering turn 1 on lap 117 and caution four came out; he hit nothing and was able to continue. The leaders pitted. Kyle Busch was out first followed by Harvick, Kenseth, Elliott and Larson.
Green came out to start lap 121. Harvick took the lead on the inside, Kenseth took third, Elliott fourth, Larson fifth. McMurray appeared to tap the wall and he slipped back.
Larson took fourth on lap 123. He took third on lap 133.
Caution five came out on lap 137 after Kyle Busch hit the wall exiting turn 3; he had damage but was able to continue. The damage was heavy and he spend a g great deal of time on pit road.
The leaders pitted. Harvick was out first followed by Kenseth, Elliott, Truex Jr. and Hamlin.
Busch was able to return prior to rejoin the field by the time green came out to start lap 141.
Harvick took the lead. Elliott was second, Kenseth third; Hamlin and Truex fought behind for spots with Truex taking fourth by the end of the lap. Larson had fifth.
Busch met the minimum speed and the five-minute clock was cleared. He was 31st one lap down.
Harvick put Kyle Busch another lap down on lap 162. Harvick’s lead over Elliott was just over two seconds.
Despite dire weather predictions, the race made it to the official point, the end of Stage 2.
Top 10 Stage 2: Harvick, Elliott, Kenseth, Truex, Kurt Busch, Hamlin, Larson, Ryan Blaney and McMurray.
Caution six came out to end the stage. The leaders pitted. Harvick was out first, Truex, Elliott, Johnson and Kenseth followed.
Green came out to start lap 186; Harvick jumped to the lead, Truex took second, Elliott, Blaney and Larson followed.
Johnson took fifth on lap 192; Larson was third, Elliott fourth.
Larson got to the bumper of Kenseth on lap 209 and got him loose taking the spot and sending Kenseth back to seventh. To five: Harvick, Truex, Larson, Elliott and Johnson.
Kyle Busch hit the wall again on lap 217 but continued. He pitted on lap 221. Truex was catching Harvick up front the lead was under a second.
Kenseth pitted on laps 224 starting a round of green flag stops. Blaney pitted on lap 226; Harvick and Truex followed. Truex beat Harvick off pit road. Johnson and Elliott pitted on lap 228.
Hamlin and Kahne stayed out for a few laps; Hamlin pitted on lap 233.
Kahne pitted on lap 234 handing the lead to Truex. The lead was just over two seconds. Larson, Elliott and Johnson were the top five.
By lap 240, Harvick was starting to cut into the lead. Larson was catching Harvick.
Larson took second on lap 244. He then began to hunt Truex.
By lap 251 Larson had caught Truex.
The seventh caution waved on lap 266 when David Ragan and Danica Patrick crashed on the backstretch. Ragan spun in turn 2 coming down and collecting Patrick; both were done.
The leaders all pitted. The stops came on the edge of the fuel window.
Larson was out first followed by Truex, Harvick, Johnson and Elliott. All the drivers were told to save fuel.
Green came out to start lap 271. Larson jumped to the lead; it was three wide behind. Harvick and Truex were soon fighting for second with Harvick taking second by the end of the lap. Johnson was fourth, Kurt Busch fifth.
Caution eight came out when Kyle Busch spun and hit the wall in turn 2 on lap 279.
The leaders pitted. Truex was out first followed by Harvick, Hamlin and Kurt Busch. Larson and Johnson both had issues; a crewmember fell during the stop for Larson, and the tire changer missed lug nuts for Johnson and the car stopped just outside the pit box. Larson came out 12th, Johnson 16th.
Green came out on lap 283; Truex took the lead, McMurray second; Harvick fought back and had second by the end of the lap; Kurt Busch was fourth Hamlin fifth.
Truex had to stay honest as Harvick was less than a second behind.
Elliott took fifth on lap 298. He took fourth on lap 306.
Larson took fifth on lap 308. Kurt Busch was third, Elliott fourth.
With 25 to go the lead was still just under a second.
Harvick slipped a bit on lap 315; the lead stretched out to just a second.
The lead was 1.3 seconds with 10 to go.
Kyle Busch hit the wall yet again and caution nine came out on lap 325. It set up a chance for someone to gamble.
The leaders pitted. Truex was out first, followed by Hamlin, Elliott, Larson and Kurt Busch; Harvick stumbled and came out sixth.
The restart came with 4 laps to go.
Truex had the lead by turn 1; Hamlin and Elliott were side by side has Truex started to check out. Behind; Kurt Busch got loose spun and clipped Larson; Larson continued with smoke as Busch came to a stop; caution 10 came out. It set up an overtime finish. The top five Truex, Hamlin, Elliott, Harvick and McMurray.
On the restart, Truex again took the lead; Elliott took second; Hamlin third, Harvick fourth, McMurray fifth.
Truex held the lead on the final lap and held it for the wine; Elliott was second followed by Harvick, Hamlin and McMurray. Suarez was sixth followed by Johnson, Blaney, Kahne and Larson.
Other playoff drivers: Kenseth was 11th, Brad Keselowski 15th, Kyle Busch 29th.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega Superspeedway for next Sunday’s Alabama 500. Live coverage will be on NBC starting at 2:00 p.m. ET.
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