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NASCAR Cup Series: Bell wins rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Logan Riely / Getty Images

Following a long wait from the drop of the red flag, NASCAR declared Christopher Bell the winner of the 2024 Coca-Cola 600 in the late hours of Sunday night. This is Bell's first win at the Charlotte oval and first Crown Jewel victory.

As it unfolded

Just after qualifying on Saturday night, Tyler Reddick and 23XI were found to be in violation of a post-inspection infringement. As a result, Reddick faced a suspended crew chief and loss in pit stall selection. Additionally, he had to start the main race from the rear of the field and serve a pass-through penalty after the first lap.

But the main pre-race story revolved around Kyle Larson. Attempting the double-header of the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600, it would be smooth sailing any other year, but the Indianapolis area faced heavy rainfall, resulting in the race not starting until hours later. Subsequently, Justin Allgaier would start the race for the #5 team until Larson got back from the event.

The first stage was rather uneventful. From pole, Ty Gibbs led decisively until the pit cycles, and even then he kept the lead. On lap 70, though, William Byron led his first laps of the race when he took the lead for himself.

Byron only kept that lead for a little bit however, as the first caution came out on lap 87. Coming off turn four, Live Fast’s BJ McLeod hit a bump and went for a spin through the frontstretch grass. He drove away unscathed.

Although Gibbs took the lead back from Byron in the pits, it wouldn’t remain that way for long, when the Daytona 500 champion swiftly took it back in turn one. This is a lead Byron kept until the end of the stage, taking his first of the season. Following behind was Gibbs and Byron’s teammate Alex Bowman.

Ty Gibbs dominated the opening portion of the race | Credit - David Jensen / Getty Images

The beginning of stage two saw the first shake-up of driver strategies. Drivers such as Ross Chastain and Noah Gragson stayed out, having taken their pit stop during the first caution for McLeod’s spin. Chastain led and stayed up front for about 20 laps, but a hard-charging Christopher Bell took the lead for himself.

Shortly after Bell took the lead on lap 130, the Indianapolis 500 ended. Subsequently, Kyle Larson began his flight back to Charlotte following a P18 finish.

Green flag pit cycles began on lap 142. The leaders remained relatively unchanged, but big drama hit the defending winner of this race, Ryan Blaney. After the tire separated itself from the axle, Blaney went into the turn four wall and had to retire from the race. However, due to the positioning of his car in the pits, race control brought out the caution 16 laps later.

The restart on lap 165 saw Martin Truex briefly take the lead after he stayed out, but William Byron quickly dispatched of the 2017 champion four laps later.

It only took until lap 171 for the next caution to come out. Coming off turn two, Noah Gragson snapped loose into the side of Ricky Stenhouse’s car. This sent the Xfinity Series winner around and into the backstretch wall. He would retire from the race. 

On the restart, Byron took the lead, but only 11 laps later, Christopher Bell took it back from him and started pulling away. Before the stage could end though, Harrison Burton went for a spin on the backstretch on lap 196. This caution brought the end of the stage with the order of Bell, Byron and Bubba Wallace.

After a brief stage break, the field took the green flag once more on lap 207. Though Byron tried to challenge Bell for the lead, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver ended up reigning supreme on the high line.

As the run progressed, Darlington winner Brad Keselowski’s car started to come alive, cutting the gap down to two-tenths by lap 228.

However, a caution followed on that lap. In the middle of turn two, Spire driver Corey Lajoie had his car come out from under him, which sent him into a spin. He suffered minimal damage. Furthermore, with weather apparently 15 minutes out, the intensity of the restart would be amped up.

On that restart, Bell and Keselowski checked out from the rest of the field – clearly better than the rest. However, Gibbs and Tyler Reddick battling for third opened the door for Byron, who made a pass in the grass coming off turn four. 

But on lap 246 – as anticipated – the caution came out for rain on the race track with Bell still in the lead. Right when this yellow came out, Kyle Larson touched down in the infield. The swap occurred when the red flag came out for lightning, but subsequently, they would be sent to the rear when a restart occurred. 

Allgaier during his first stint | Credit - David Jensen / Getty Images

But that restart would never come. Christopher Bell – only completing 253 of the 400 laps – won the Coca-Cola 600, his first Crown Jewel victory. Brad Keselowski came home second followed by William Byron in third. Tyler Reddick impressively finished fourth despite his penalties in the beginning. Rounding out the top five was Denny Hamlin.

Ty Gibbs finished sixth followed by Chase Elliott in seventh. Ross Chastain snags his fifth top ten of the season in eighth. Alex Bowman and Josh Berry rounded out the top ten.

As for Larson's car, NASCAR ended up leaving the car in the position it was prior to the red flag, meaning that Justin Allgaier wheeled to a 13th-place finish, his best since the 2015 Bristol spring race.

Catch the next bit of NASCAR action on Sunday, as the drivers head to Gateway to tackle the mile-long oval.


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