The 2018 NASCAR Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as it happened

CHARLOTTE, NC - MAY 27: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M's Red White & Blue Toyota, takes the green flag to start the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch finally checked a box Sunday night.  He finally won a points-paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, something he has never done.  It was a dominating performance and here’s how it all went down Sunday in NASCAR’s longest race the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series Coca-Cola 600.

From his third Charlotte pole and his third of the season, Kyle Busch led the field to the green in the outside lane. Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Erik Jones and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.

After missing qualifying Thursday with inspection issues Kevin Harvick started at the rear of the field.  Bubba Wallace joined them for unapproved adjustments.

Exiting turn 2 Busch and Logano were side by side; by the exit of turn 4 Logano had the lead.  Jones, Hamlin and Ryan Newman followed.  Keselowski had dropped to sixth.

Newman and Hamlin re fighting for fourth by lap 4.

Busch was looking for the lead a lap later.  He had the lead by lap 6.

Jones was looking for second from Logano on lap 7 and had it exiting turn 4; Logano defended and had the spot back by turn 1. The two remained side by side; Jones finally took the spot at the start of lap 11.

Busch had stretched out his lead to 2.5 seconds.  He was starting to lap the back of the field by lap 15. Hamlin was creeping in on Logano.  Hamlin had third by lap 17.

Harvick was 17th on the same lap.

Logano was fifth by lap 19; Ryan Blaney was looking for fifth.

Kyle Larson had been charging forward and he took fifth from Logano on lap 24.

Logano was eighth by lap 27.

Last year’s winner Austin Dillon in 16th hit the wall entering turn 1 on lap 37 after losing a tire and the first caution of the day came out.

The leaders pitted for the first time.   Kyle Busch was out first followed by Hamlin, Larson, Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Jones had been blocked in and had to back up; he came out 17th.

Newman was penalized for his crew going over the wall too soon.

Harvick came out in 10th and after other’s penalties restated in 9th.

Green came out to start lap 44.

Busch again started at the top, but this time had the lead by entrance of turn 2.

Larson, Blaney and Martin Truex Jr. were the top five.  Harvick was sixth.

Jones had recovered to 9th by lap 47.

Austin Dillon pitted on lap 50 with a fire in the right rear wheel well.  He eventually went to the garage.

Kyle Busch’s lead was 1.8 seconds by lap 64. There were 29 cars on the lead lap.

Harvick took fifth on lap 67. He took fourth two laps later.

Busch’s lead was 3.3 seconds by lap 76.

Harvick blew a left front tire entering turn 3 and hit the wall hard on lap 83 the second caution of the day came out.

The leaders pitted; there were 15 laps to go I the stage.

Keselowski who had been in 12th missed his pit box and was first off pit road. He was followed by Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Blaney and Larson. All had taken four tires.

Green came out to start lap 88.  Kyle Busch shot to the lead as Keselowski went just as fast backwards.

Blaney, Jimmie Johnson, Larson and Aric Almirola were the top five.

With five to go in stage 1; Keselowski was 26th. Truex took fifth on the same lap.

Johnson and Truex were side by side for fourth with two to go in the stage.

Top 10 Stage 1: Kyle Busch, Blaney, Larson, Truex Johnson, Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Hamlin, Stenhouse, and Jones.

The third caution came out to end the stage.

The leaders pitted.  Kyle Busch was out first followed by Blaney, Hamlin Truex and Almirola.

Stage 2 started when the field got the green to start lap 108.

Busch and Blaney were side by side for most of the lap with Busch getting the lead across the start-finish line. Truex, Johnson and Larson followed.

William Byron was among a group of cars fighting just inside the top 15; he hit the wall on lap 114 and the fourth caution came out.

Having just putted the top 12 stayed out.  The first car with new tires was Jones in 13th.

The restart came to start lap 120. Busch on the outside again took the lead.  Larson and Blaney were side by side for second when just behind them Johnson spun exiting turn 4 while in fifth after a bump from Hamlin.  Further back Logano spun while racing for 14th.  Both cars actually suffered minimal damage and were able to continue; Jones had tapped Logano and he too had minor damage. As did Hamlin.  Caution five came out.  All four pitted for repairs.  Hamlin came out 244th, Johnson came out 26th, Jones 28th Logano 30th,

It was quickie yellow and green came out to start lap 122.  Busch again took the lead followed by Larson, Truex, Blaney and Almirola.

By lap 134 Busch’s lead was 2.2 seconds.

Truex took second on lap 140. Hamlin was back up to eighth, Johnson 13th.

Hamlin had rebounded to fifth by lap 150. He took fourth on lap 153.  Busch’s lead was 4 seconds.

Green flags stops started on lap 156; Larson pitted on lap 158. Truex pitted a lap later; Blaney and more followed. Kyle Busch pitted on lap 159.

Hamlin inherited the lead followed by Johnson and Jones; Logano and Kasey Kahne were the top five.   Jones pitted on lap 163; he had gotten no service just repairs during the last caution; Johnson in the same situation pitted a lap later.

Hamlin pitted on lap 165.  Logano inherited the lead as stops continued to cycle and some stayed out hoping for a caution.

With older tires Logano was being passed by those with new ones.

By lap 170 only Kahne and Logano were left as the ones with older tires.  Kyle Busch was third 2.7 seconds behind and quickly closing.

Kahne pitted on lap 173 and Busch shot past Logano was back in the lead; Truex, Larson and Blaney followed.

Truex took second on lap 174.

Blaney was reporting possible engine issues on lap 185. He had fallen to sixth.  The top five with 15 to go in Stage 2: Busch, Truex, Larson Hamlin and Bowyer.  Busch’s lead was 2.6 seconds.

Logano pitted on lap 188.

Blaney decided he was going to try and make it to the end of the stage.

Keselowski went a lap down on lap 193.  There were 16 cars on the lead lap.

Top 2 Stage 2: Kyle Busch, Truex, Larson, Hamlin, Bowyer, Almirola, Chase Elliott, Johnson, Newman, Jones.

The leaders pitted.  Kyle Busch was out first followed by Truex, Hamlin, Bowyer and Larson.

Truex was penalized for speeding.  That moved Elliott into fifth as everyone moved up a spot.

Green came out to start lap 207.  Busch retook the lead on the outside; Hamlin fell into second, Larson, Bowyer and Almirola fell in behind.

Almirola had fourth by lap 212.

Truex was back up to 15th bay lap 214.

Elliott took fifth on lap 215.

Gary Gaulding, running 33rd four laps down, spun in turn 4 on lap 226 and caution seven came out.

The leaders pitted. Busch was out first followed by Hamlin, Almirola, Larson and Bowyer.

Truex again had to start at the rear of the field for an uncontrolled tire.

Green came out to start lap 172; Busch shot to the lead bringing Larson with him on the outside. Hamlin fell into third followed by Almirola and Bowyer.

Elliott took fifth on lap 252; he soon had fourth as Jamie McMurray followed into fifth.

McMurray took fourth on lap 256.

Chris Buescher got into the wall on lap 258 and caution eight came out.

The leaders pitted.  Busch was out first followed by Hamlin, Larson, McMurray and Elliott.

Green came out to start lap 265.  Busch again shot to the lead as Hamlin and McMurray dueled for second; McMurray had the spot as the lap ended after the two made contact exiting turn 4.  Larson was fourth, Kurt Busch was fifth.

Larson spun in turn 1 on lap 272 while running fourth; he didn’t hit anything and was able to continue; caution nine came out.

Larson along with several deeper in the field pitted.

Green came out to start lap 277; Truex fought back from his penalty and restarted ninth.

Kyle Busch gain had a clear lea as brother Kurt moved into second.

Blaney’s engine let go a lap later and in a ball of fire he rolled to a stop; caution 10 came out.

Larson was the only one among the leaders to pit.

Green came to start lap 285; 15 to go in Stage 3. Kyle Busch took a clear lead, Jones who had fought his way forward took second; Kurt Busch was third McMurray fourth, Almirola fifth.

Keselowski had also rallied back and too fifth on lap 287. He took fourth a lap later.

Johnson was on a mission and won a three wide battle to go from 10th to eighth on lap 290.

Hamlin was looking for fifth from McMurray with three laps to go in Stage 3.

While Kyle Busch had a 2.5 second lead up front, the battle for stage points on the final lap of the stage.

Top 10 Stage 3: Kyle Busch, Jones, Keselowski, Kurt Busch, McMurray, Hamlin, Kahne, Truex and Newman.  There were 23 cars on the lead lap.

The leaders pitted.  Kyle Busch was out first followed by Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Hamlin and McMurray.

With issues on his pit stop, Jones came out 19th.  During the stop, Jones front tire changer had the air gun ripped out of his hands as Kahne’s car in the box in front of him snagged it; they had to get the backup.

Green came out to start lap 308; Busch again took a clear lead as Keselowski took second; Kurt Busch, Hamlin and Newman followed. Truex was sixth, Johnson close behind in seventh.

Newman, in fifth, slowed with an issue with a wheel hub and headed straight to the garage on lap 313. He had earlier reported a possible loose wheel.

Busch’s lead was 2 seconds by lap 315.

Truex had moved to fourth by lap 319, Kurt Busch had fallen to fifth. Truex took third on lap 320.

With a power move Truex took second on lap 331. Eh was 3.9 seconds behind the leader.

By lap 335 Busch had responded to the Truex move and had a lead of 4.9 seconds.  That lead was 5.4 seconds by lap 339.

Green flag stops started deep in the field on lap 345; Kurt Busch, Larson Almirola were among those who pitted.

Keselowski, McMurray, and Johnson pitted on lap 346. The top six had not pitted.

Kyle Busch had a lead of 8 seconds by lap 351.

Busch tried to pit on lap 352 and nearly spun out; he had to continue for another lap; he his pit road on lap 352.; Truex smartly followed.

Hamlin and Jones stayed out.  Hamlin and Jones pitted a lap later.

When the stops cycled through, Kyle Busch was back in the lead; Keselowski, Johnson, McMurray and Larson followed. The lead was 3.6 seconds.

Jones was penalized for an uncontrolled tire during the stops.

Truex took fifth on lap 359.

McMurray tried to defend but Truex took fourth on lap 363.

Truex was the fastest car on the track and took third on lap 365.  The lead for Busch was 3.5 seconds.

Truex took second on lap 367. The lead was just over 6 seconds with 30 laps left.

Hamlin moved back into fifth on lap 377; he took fourth a lap later.

Up front the lead was holding steady between 5-6 seconds.

Hamlin was looking for third with 19 laps to go; he had the spot on lap 383 a lap later.

With 13 laps to go the lead was just under 5 seconds as Busch was negotiating traffic; there were 12 cars on the lead lap.

The lead was 4.1 seconds with 10 to go.  There were 11 cars on the lead lap as Busch was fighting his way through the field.

The lead was 3.6 seconds with five to go and 9 cars on the lead lap.

As he took the white flag, the lead was 3.7 seconds and still 9 cars on the lead lap.

Kyle Busch won his 43rd career race and his first Cup points race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Behind Truex, Hamlin was third Keselowski was fourth and Johnson fifth.

McMurray was sixth followed by Larson, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

The Cup series heads to Long Pond PA. for next Sunday’s Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway. Live coverage will be on Fox Sports 1 with the green flag falling just after 2:00 p.m. ET.

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.