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NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Source: Logan Riely / Getty

This weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway was filled with a multitude of storylines. After a smooth Friday night that saw Xfinity Series practice and qualifying go off without a hitch and both the ARCA Menards and Craftsmen Truck Series race without any issues, weather became the theme of the next two days.

Saturday was a complete washout which led to the Xfinity Series race being pushed back to Monday at Noon due to more rain that was expected to be in the area on Sunday morning. That rain in the morning lasted throughout the day, though, leading to the Cup race being pushed back to Monday afternoon at 3:00 PM and the Xfinity Series’ start time being moved up an hour.

Even Monday wasn’t easy with weather, though, as the Xfinity Series race was postponed until late night after the conclusion of the Coca-Cola 600 due to isolated rain showers after just 48 laps. The good news, though, was that around 2:00 PM, the cloud broke and set the stage for an electric Coca-Cola 600.

For a second straight year, this crown jewel event produced one of the most action-packed races of the season with sixteen caution flags and 31 lead changes. Hendrick driver William Bryon took home the Stage 1 victory, while Stage 2 went to RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher before Blaney took over in the final two stages. He finished the night leading 163 of the 400 laps, by far the most of anyone in the field on the way to his first Coca-Cola 600.

The victory snapped Blaney’s streak of 59 races without a victory, which was one of the longest such stretches in the series entering last night. The win also feels like a huge stepping stone win for the 29-year old legacy driver from Hartford Township, OH.

After the race, WCNC Charlotte sports reporter Ashley Stroehlein talked to an emotional Blaney and she stopped by with the Mac & Bone Show this morning to discuss that. “During our interview, you could just tell how much it meant to him,” Stroehlein said. “I thought he was gonna cry for a minute after he won and Ryan is not someone who typically shows a ton of emotion.”

While this was a big moment for Blaney and team owner Roger Penske, who won both the Coca-Cola 600 and the Indianapolis 500 in the same weekend, it was two more feuds on the track that stole the show.

The first incident came while under the red flag due to rain on Lap 159 between Aric Almirola and Bubba Wallace. The two had a heated exchange of words right outside of Wallace’s 23 car and eventually led to a shove from Almirola that was quickly broken up. Almirola said after the race that the conversation was originally about Wallace giving him the middle finger after racing him tight at one point earlier in the race. Almirola then said that Wallace started yelling obscenities at him, something he clearly didn’t take kindly to. Wallace said that the exchange was “just passion’ while also saying that Almirola “walks around with two faces”.

That was far from the biggest debacle that took place on Monday night, though. On lap 186, Denny Hamlin squeezed Chase Elliott up the track a bit in the exit of Turn 4 leading to the 9 car brushing the right side of the car against the wall. Almost immediately, Elliott appeared to the turn to the left and hook the right rear quarter panel of Hamlin, sending him head-on into the wall. Hamlin would climb out okay, but both drivers’ nights were done.

Once he was released from the infield care center, Hamlin spoke to the media and immediately demanded action from NASCAR in the form of a one-race suspension towards Elliott. Hamlin cited last year’s incident between Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson as the precedent for the suspension, a situation he is very familiar with as a part owner of the 23XI team that Wallace races for. Later in the evening, Hamlin tweeted out the SMT (Sports Media Technology) data from Elliott’s car at the time of the crash, saying that it showed very clearly he hooked him. Elliott claimed following his trip to the care center that he lost all control of the car after hitting the wall, something he claimed is common in this NextGen car.

NASCAR has some important decisions to make when it comes to the Elliott-Hamlin situation as the series packs up and heads for St. Louis this coming weekend as Joey Logano looks to defend last year’s victory at World Wide Technology Raceway.