Christopher Bell Wins Rain-Shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

nascar cup series coca cola 600
Christopher Bell Wins Rain-Shortened Coca-Cola 600Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

Being in the right place at the right time benefited Christopher Bell Sunday night as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver walked off with his second victory this season in the rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With rain fast approaching the 1.5-mile track, Bell and runner-up Brad Keselowski were locked in a duel for the lead. Bell snatched the No. 1 position from William Byron on lap 208, lost it to Keselowski on lap 231, and then regained it on lap 232.

On lap 239, Bell possessed a narrow 0.439-second advantage over Keselowski and managed to hold on to the slim margin until the seventh and final yellow flag waved on lap 246 for rain. Three more laps were completed before the race was stopped 151 laps shy of completion.


“The size of that storm was big enough that it wasn’t really confusing the radar,” said crew chief Adam Stevens. “So, I think everybody had a pretty good handle on about when it would get here.

nascar cup series coca cola 600 qualifying
Christopher Bell led a race=high 90 laps on Sunday night in Charlotte.Jared C. Tilton - Getty Images

“It does change the dynamics of the race. You can’t afford to make a long pit stop if you really need an adjustment and you can’t afford to really plug the second (gas) can in if you need the second can because you just can’t lose the track position with these shorter races. It had a different feel to it. A lot more intensity at the front of the pack. I think you saw that on the restarts and a lot more pressure on the guys on pit road.”

NASCAR attempted to dry the track after it stopped raining at about 10:30 p.m., but decided that due to the high humidity the track drying process wouldn’t allow the race to resume until after 1 a.m. Boos erupted from fans still in the grandstand when the race was called.

Keselowski, who finished second, was extremely disappointed with NASCAR’s decision.

“I felt like we had a car to win the race,” said Keselowski, who led once for one lap. “We kind of ran down the (No.) 20 (Bell) car twice and just didn’t get to see it play out. So, it kind of slipped through our fingers there.

“I think everybody knew the situation. I can’t claim ignorance to that. We were going as hard as we could. I feel like I needed another 10 laps or so to be able to make a pass, but that’s not how it played out. I’m bummed for everybody, but the weather is what the weather is.”

Bell led six times for 90 laps, making him the first top lap leader in a rain-shortened race to win the event since Joe Nemechek at Richmond in May 2003.

NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Charlotte Motor Speedway

1. (3) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 249.

2. (30) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 249.

3. (2) William Byron, Chevrolet, 249.

4. (8) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 249.

5. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 249.

6. (1) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 249.

7. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 249.

8. (7) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 249.

9. (6) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 249.

10. (13) Josh Berry #, Ford, 249.

11. (12) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 249.

12. (4) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 249.

13. (10) Justin Allgaier(i), Chevrolet, 249.

14. (28) Joey Logano, Ford, 249.

15. (15) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 249.

16. (9) Michael McDowell, Ford, 249.

17. (35) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 249.

18. (24) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 249.

19. (34) Erik Jones, Toyota, 249.

20. (17) Austin Cindric, Ford, 249.

21. (20) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 249.

22. (22) Justin Haley, Ford, 249.

23. (39) Chris Buescher, Ford, 249.

24. (14) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 249.

25. (18) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 249.

26. (31) Ryan Preece, Ford, 249.

27. (27) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 249.

28. (36) Shane Van Gisbergen(i), Chevrolet, 249.

29. (29) Jimmie Johnson, Toyota, 249.

30. (26) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 249.

31. (23) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 249.

32. (32) Harrison Burton, Ford, 249.

33. (25) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 249.

34. (33) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 249.

35. (21) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 249.

36. (38) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 247.

37. (37) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 241.

38. (19) Noah Gragson, Ford, Accident, 170.

39. (16) Ryan Blaney, Ford, Accident, 143.

40. (40) JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, Steering, 114.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 123.053 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 2 Mins, 7 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution.

Caution Flags: 7 for 46 laps.

Lead Changes: 21 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: T. Gibbs 1-42;M. McDowell 43-48;S. Van Gisbergen(i) 49-50;T. Gibbs 51-71;W. Byron 72-89;T. Gibbs 90-93;W. Byron 94-103;T. Gibbs 104-110;R. Chastain 111-120;C. Bell 121-146;J. Berry # 147-153;C. Bell 154-159;M. Truex Jr. 160-167;C. Elliott 168-169;W. Byron 170-188;C. Bell 189-201;W. Byron 202;C. Bell 203-206;W. Byron 207;C. Bell 208-230;B. Keselowski 231;C. Bell 232-249.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Christopher Bell 6 times for 90 laps; Ty Gibbs 4 times for 74 laps; William Byron 5 times for 49 laps; Ross Chastain 1 time for 10 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 8 laps; Josh Berry # 1 time for 7 laps; Michael McDowell 1 time for 6 laps; Shane Van Gisbergen(i) 1 time for 2 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 2 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 24,54,48,20,19,23,12,6,4,34

Stage #2 Top Ten: 20,24,23,11,6,48,9,4,1,45

Stage #3 Top Ten: 20,6,24,45,11,54,9,1,48,4