Charlotte NASCAR: Keselowski wins 600-mile race from last, Johnson disqualified

Keselowski wins at Charlotte as Johnson disqualified
Keselowski wins at Charlotte as Johnson disqualified

Brad Keselowski recovered from the back of the grid in the Charlotte 600-mile NASCAR Cup race to win, while second-placed Jimmie Johnson was disqualified post-race for a technical infringement.

A spin on lap 399 of a scheduled 400 for Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron brought out a caution, with Byron’s team-mate, long-time leader Chase Elliott, opting to pit for fresh tyres for overtime, while the likes of Keselowski, Johnson and Ryan Blaney stayed out on 45-lap old tyres.

On the final restart, Keselowski and Johnson broke away, with the former’s Ford Mustang – which was sent to the back of the pack following changes made after scrutineering before the race – looking comfortable in the lead, crossing the line 0.293 seconds clear of Johnson’s Chevrolet Camaro to score his 31st Cup win.

Johnson fell narrowly short of ending his winless run which now stands at 102 races, but was later thrown out of the results when his #48 machine’s rear alignment numbers were found to be off.

Elliott recovered to take third, having taken the lead of the race on lap 365 after fighting back from two unscheduled pitstops just after half-distance to fix spring issues on his Camaro, which dropped him from fifth to the rear of the field.

Blaney was an early mover, making up nine places in the first 10 laps of the race, which was suspended for just over an hour on lap 50 following a brief rain shower passing over the Charlotte circuit.

The Penske racer then drove a solid event to what became third, ahead of Kyle Busch, who also opted to pit with Elliott when the Byron caution came out.

The reigning Cup champion made it back to fourth, ahead of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick, who had an anonymous run to fifth in his #4 Mustang machine.

Martin Truex Jr looked like a contender to make it back-to-back wins in the Cup series’ longest event, looking comfortable when he hit the front, although he did not feature much in the race after losing two positions during pitstops on lap 348 following a Joey Gase spin.

Keselowski wins at Charlotte as Johnson disqualifiedKeselowski wins at Charlotte as Johnson disqualified
Keselowski wins at Charlotte as Johnson disqualified

Polesitter Kurt Busch was seventh for Chip Ganassi Racing, never really recovering from losing position soon after the race was resumed following the weather delay.

Xfinity series champion Tyler Reddick continued his good form with eighth, following on from a career-best seventh in the first Darlington race, while fellow rookie Christopher Bell finished ninth.

Having qualified fourth, Matt Kenseth endured a tricky afternoon, with a spin on lap 275 condemning him to the lower order and an eventual 26th-place finish, while stage three winner Joey Logano slipped to 13th for Penske, after he too decided to pit under the late Byron caution.

Alex Bowman looked serene in the lead of the race, controlling his pace expertly ahead of renowned 1.5-mile circuit driver Truex, until he started to struggle with his tyres and slow pit-work under the Gase caution cost him five places.

The #88 Hendrick driver secured victories in stages one and two, but slipped to what became 19th at the flag.

JGR’s Denny Hamlin’s race was over before it started as, at least two pieces of tungsten ballast fell out of his #11 Camry on the formation laps to the grid.

He was hauled into the pits by NASCAR officials, as the team worked to rectify the problem and restore ballast to the Toyota.

Hamlin lost eight laps in the pits and did not feature in the race, climbing to 29th at the flag, albeit still seven laps behind winner Keselowski.

If NASCAR opts to enforce the rulebook on the #11 car, Hamlin’s crew chief, car chief and head engineer will be suspended for four races, meaning they will not be able to return until Homestead on 14 June.

Byron will start from pole for the second Charlotte race on Wednesday as the top 20 finishers will be reversed.

Results

Pos

Driver

Team

Gap

1

Brad Keselowski

Team Penske

4h29m55.s

2

Chase Elliott

Hendrick Motorsports

0.674s

3

Ryan Blaney

Team Penske

1.218s

4

Kyle Busch

Joe Gibbs Racing

1.465s

5

Kevin Harvick

Stewart-Haas Racing

1.625s

6

Martin Truex Jr.

Joe Gibbs Racing

1.817s

7

Kurt Busch

Chip Ganassi Racing

1.823s

8

Tyler Reddick

Richard Childress Racing

1.894s

9

Christopher Bell

Leavine Family Racing

2.272s

10

Chris Buescher

Roush Fenway Racing

2.402s

11

Erik Jones

Joe Gibbs Racing

2.403s

12

Cole Custer

Stewart-Haas Racing

2.821s

13

Joey Logano

Team Penske

3.023s

14

Austin Dillon

Richard Childress Racing

3.217s

15

Aric Almirola

Stewart-Haas Racing

3.492s

16

John Hunter Nemechek

Front Row Motorsports

3.558s

17

Matt DiBenedetto

Wood Brothers Racing

3.869s

18

Michael McDowell

Front Row Motorsports

3.908s

19

Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports

3.939s

20

William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports

1 Lap

21

Ross Chastain

Spire Motorsports

2 Laps

22

Ryan Preece

JTG Daugherty Racing

2 Laps

23

Corey LaJoie

Go FAS Racing

2 Laps

24

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

JTG Daugherty Racing

3 Laps

25

Ty Dillon

Germain Racing

4 Laps

26

Matt Kenseth

Chip Ganassi Racing

4 Laps

27

Ryan Newman

Roush Fenway Racing

5 Laps

28

Daniel Suarez

Gaunt Brothers Racing

6 Laps

29

Denny Hamlin

Joe Gibbs Racing

7 Laps

30

Brennan Poole

Premium Motorsports

7 Laps

31

Gray Gaulding

Rick Ware Racing

8 Laps

32

B.J. McLeod

BJ McLeod Motorsports

12 Laps

33

Garrett Smithley

Rick Ware Racing

14 Laps

34

Timmy Hill

MBM Motorsports

15 Laps

35

Quin Houff

StarCom Racing

15 Laps

36

Joey Gase

Petty Ware Racing

20 Laps

37

J.J. Yeley

Tommy Baldwin Racing

Accident damage

38

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Richard Petty Motorsports

Vibration

39

Clint Bowyer

Stewart-Haas Racing

Accident

40

Jimmie Johnson

Hendrick Motorsports

0.293s

Get unlimited access to the world’s best motorsport journalism with Autosport Plus