Trackhouse Racing co-owner Justin Marks missed the start of Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but for a good reason. He was winning the Trans-Am Memorial Day Classic at Lime Rock Park.
After having engine issues and breaking a rotor prior to the start of the event, Marks’ Camaro dominated the TA race, finishing nearly 10 seconds ahead of runner-up and series points leader Chris Dyson. Matthew Brabham finished third.
Marks’ victory snapped Dyson Racing’s five-race win streak. It also ended Dyson’s three-race win streak at Lime Rock Park.
“Winning feels good,” Marks said. “You know, we were on pole the first two races, so it’s been a good start to the year, but we weren’t able to translate either of those into wins. It’s so good to get the win today.
"My crew had to work a lot harder than they signed up for this weekend, having to replace a motor after first practice and a rotor after qualifying. It’s nice to reward those guys with a win. It was tricky; both of the CD Racing cars were fast and I had to really use lapped traffic to try to get by them. I think in a straight-up dog fight it would have been tricky to get around them. I’m so proud of my team and all these guys, and I’m so glad to be here in Victory Circle at Lime Rock.”
Meanwhile, Thomas Merrill won the TA2 race, Nathan Byrd the XGT class and Michael Saia the GT class race.
23XI Racing Makes History … But
Bubba Wallace’s and Tyler Reddick’s fourth- and fifth-place finishes in Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked the first time both 23XI Racing drivers have placed in the top five in a points paying race.
However, the two experienced drastically different events before the checkered flag waved.
“This was probably the dirtiest race we’ve ever had as far as us executing,” Wallace said.
There was an uncontrolled tire on pit road, Wallace’s Toyota was knocked off the jack by Michael McDowell’s Ford during a pit stop, and Wallace was shoved by Aric Almirola when confronted on pit road during a rain delay. Wallace chalked the confrontation up to “passion” and said he wasn’t surprised at Almirola’s reaction.
Almirola said he confronted Wallace because he felt he ran him all over the race track and when he passed him he “shot me the bird.”
“I just went by and asked him why you shot me the bird,” said Almirola, who finished 25th. “I felt like I gave him a lot of room and a lot of respect, and he started mouthing off and saying a lot of bad things and cussing at me after he shot me the bird, so I just wasn’t gonna take that.”
Almirola believes it’s over because he “got his point across” to Wallace.
Despite the issues, Wallace now has four top-five finishes, including three straight, this season. He also finished second in the NASCAR All-Star race.
“We’re hitting our stride,” Wallace said. “You can’t get complacent. The thing I love about racing is you get to show up and it’s a new opportunity, a fresh set of downs and you go out and compete.”
The race was going well for Reddick before he spun off turn four and then later collided with Kevin Harvick on lap 358 and sent Harvick spinning through the frontstretch apron. He said when he hit the wall with his Toyota, he “watched the life fade away” from his race car.
“Our car was really, really strong, so fifth place just doesn’t cut it,” said Reddick, who led once for 28 laps. “The car had a tremendous amount of speed and handling pretty much from the drop of the green flag. We were just one spot short it seemed like most of the day from being where we needed to be.”
Bowman 12th, But Hurting
Alex Bowman, competing in his first race since breaking his back in a Sprint Car race, recorded a 12th-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway but he didn’t feel well afterwards.
“It doesn’t feel very good at the moment,” Bowman said about his back after climbing from his car, “but (it’s) about what I was expecting. There was no pain in the car, really, but now that I’m out, I feel it a little bit.”
Bowman said when qualifying for the race was rained out it resulted in a poor pit selection for his team.
“We got stuck on pit road,” Bowman said. “Every stop, we came in like 10th, but lost spots coming out. But that wasn’t only my guys, it was just pit stall selection.”
Johnson’s Third Race This Season a Bleak One
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson won four Coca-Cola 600 races during his 20 years with Hendrick Motorsports, but none of that old magic existed in Monday’s rain-delayed event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Johnson, who had to start last in the race due to rain washing out qualifying, completed only 115 of the race’s 400 laps. He had advanced to 22nd before spinning on lap 75, causing the second of 16 caution flags. He continued even though he was several laps down in his third NASCAR Cup race this season, but a backstretch collision with Noah Gragson sidelined Johnson with 37 laps remaining before the race’s halfway mark.
“I just didn’t know we were put in that three-wide situation,” Johnson said. “There were a bunch of us cars that were wrecked and just trying to limp it home. Unfortunately, I ended up in a situation I wasn’t aware of and got turned around.”
Johnson finished 37th, last, in the race.