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May 30, 2022 1:16 am

Denny Hamlin wins first Coca-Cola 600 in double OT thriller

Denny Hamlin beat teammate Kyle Busch in a race to the checkers in the second overtime session Sunday night to win the 63rd running of NASCAR’s longest race, the Coca-Cola 600 Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Lined up beside his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate in Busch, the two raced door-to-door into Turn 1 on the last lap, but Hamlin slid his No. 11 Toyota in deeper, forcing Busch’s No. 18 to back off.

Hamlin beat Busch by .14 seconds to the line for his 48th career win, tying him with Herb Thomas for 16th on NASCAR’s all-time win list. It was his first career win at Charlotte.

“It’s so special. It’s the last big one that’s not on my resume. It meant so much,” said Hamlin, who won for the second time this season. “We weren’t very good all day, just in the right place at the right time. What a battle there.”

By claiming the Memorial Day weekend classic, Hamlin became just the second active driver to win all three of NASCAR’s crown jewel races – the Daytona 500 (he’s a three-time winner), the Southern 500 in Darlington and the Coca-Cola 600. Kevin Harvick has also accomplished the feat.

Harvick, Chase Briscoe and Christopher Bell completed the top five, following Hamlin and Busch.

“We didn’t have a good enough day to be in that position,” said Busch. “A strong fight all night by the M&M’s team. Unfortunately, we were one spot short.”

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Chase Elliott and William Byron charged to the front past Hamlin, the polesitter. Elliott then claimed the first of the of the four 100-lap stages.

Daniel Suarez beat Ross Chastain to record his second stage-win of 2022.

To start the race’s second half, Chastain soon moved out front and beat Briscoe by just under two seconds to claim the stage points for the third time in his career – all this season.

The race’s most spectacular wreck occurred with 54 laps left when Chris Buescher’s No. 17 Ford slid sideways after contact with Suarez’s No. 99 and caught the frontstretch grass, then it flipped four times and came to rest upside down.

“It was a little painful,” Buescher said. “I guess the tire just ripped off and sent us flipping.”

During the red-flag period, Buescher climbed out of his damaged machine under his own power.

Kyle Larson took the lead from Chastain with 46 laps to go and held off Briscoe, who spun with two laps to go, to set up the first overtime session.

As Austin Dillon moved to the lead in overtime, he was clipped by Larson, triggering a big wreck that left Hamlin, Chastain, Kyle Busch and Harvick as the top four in the second session.

–Field Level Media

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