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NASCAR Coke 600: Christopher Bell wins rain-shortened race

During a caution for a spin by Corey LaJoie, Christopher Bell was the first off pit road and took command when the race resumed on lap 236 of the scheduled 400 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In clear air, Bell was able to extend his lead over Brad Keselowski as Byron made a three-wide move on the frontstretch – crossing into the infield grass – to move into third.

Light rain forced NASCAR to throw a caution on lap 246 and three laps later lightning in the area forced the race to a halt. With the race official since it was more than half completed, NASCAR declared Bell the winner around 11:30 p.m. EST.

"I mean, I knew there was going to be a chance (the race resumed)," Bell said. "I was literally on the couch like half-asleep and I'm already mentally prepared to go back racing. Then I see the (Fox broadcasters) come back (on TV) and I'm like, 'Wait a minute, what's going on?'
"My phone goes off and they say they called it. What a twist of emotions, man. I have never been through an emotional swing like that in my life."
Asked about how special it is to add a Coke 600 race victory to his resume, Bell said, "This is everything. Memorial Day weekend is not about racing, it's about honoring and remembering and I'm just thankful that those who have served allowed us to do what we love to do.
"It's been a heck of a trying eight weeks or so and getting the second win of the year means a lot."

NASCAR and CMS officials said track drying was on pace for a restart well after 1 a.m. EST and stated that it would be too late to complete the remainder of the race.

It’s the second win of the 2024 season for Bell, who also won earlier this year at Phoenix, and eighth of his career.

It’s been a very up-and-down season for Bell. Although locked into the playoffs with his Phoenix win, he and his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team have crashed out of three races and have five finishes of 33rd or worse.

Keselowski ended up credited with the second-place finish, Byron third, Tyler Reddick and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Completing the top-10 were pole-winner Ty Gibbs, Chase Elliott, Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman and Josh Berry.

The early halt to Sunday night’s race also prevented Kyle Larson from turning a single lap in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.

Earlier in the day, Larson competed in his first Indianapolis 500, but that rave was delayed several hours for rain. Xfinity Series regular Justin Allgaier started the 600 in Larson’s place.

Larson remained in Indy and finished 18th before departing almost immediately for the Charlotte area. He arrived at the track during the caution for rain and was prepared to get into his car after the red flag was lifted.

Stage 1

Byron grabbed the lead on a restart with seven laps to go and held off Gibbs by 0.393 seconds to take the Stage 1 win, his first stage victory of the 2024 season. Bowman was third, Bell fourth and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top five.

Stage 2

With 12 laps remaining, Bell powered around Byron for the lead and clinched the Stage 2 win when it ended under caution for a spin by Harrison Burton.

Byron was second, Bubba Wallace third, Hamlin fourth and Keselowski fifth.

While a round of green flag pit stops was ongoing, reigning series champion Ryan Blaney hit the outside wall in Turn 2 and did serious damage to the right-front of his No. 12 Penske Ford.

He made it to pit road, but his team was unable to extricate the tire from the car and he was forced to retire from the race.

Stage 3

All of the lead lap cars pit during the break between Stages 2 and 3, with Bell the first off pit road. He led the way when the race resumed on lap 207.

Most drivers elected to pit again when Corey LaJoie spun off Turn 2 to bring out a caution on lap 230. Again, Bell’s team got him off pit road with the lead.

On Lap 246, NASCAR was forced to display a caution as light rain began falling in the area of the track. Three laps later, the race was halted due to lightning within an eight-mile radius.

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