Bell prevails at rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600

motorsport27 May 2024 05:33| © Reuters
article image
Christopher Bell © Gallo Images

Christopher Bell waited through a weather delay and was declared the winner of the rain-shortened NASCAR Cup Series' Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., on Sunday night.

Bell paced the field as rain pelted the 1.5-mile speedway on Lap 249, bringing the drivers to pit road for the final time as Kyle Larson arrived from Indiana after competing in the Indianapolis 500.

Sporting the No 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, Bell was announced as the race's winner at about 11:30 p.m. ET. It was his second victory of the season and the eighth of his career.

Brad Keselowski finished second, while William Byron (third), Tyler Reddick (fourth) and Denny Hamlin (fifth) rounded out the top five. Toyotas occupied four of the top six spots on the leaderboard.

Starting in place of Larson, who finished 18th in his Indianapolis 500 debut, Justin Allgaier came in 13th and was prepared to turn the car over to Larson, but the race never restarted.

After securing the first pole of his three-year career, Ty Gibbs, in his No 54 Toyota, led the 40-car field around the 1.5-mile track until Byron took the point with 28 laps left in Stage 1's 100 circuits.

The segment featured just one caution – occurring when BJ McLeod spun – and Gibbs used the opportunity to get service and win the race off pit road over Byron. However, Byron ended up beating Gibbs for his first 2024 stage win.

With Bell leading, defending Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney made hard contact with the Turn 4 wall and suffered tire damage with 54 laps left in the second segment to put him out of contention.

Noah Gragson's wreck on the backstretch with 29 laps to go allowed Byron to grab the point, but Bell zoomed past Byron on Lap 189 and won the second stage under caution when Harrison Burton looped his No 21 Ford exiting Turn 1.

The seventh caution flew on Lap 246 for rain.

Bell, who led a race-high 90 laps, and the field hit pit road as Larson's helicopter landed on the infield helipad after a jet flight from Indianapolis, prompting a driver swap with Allgaier as the red-flag condition began.