Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Kevin Harvick is 10/1 to win Wednesday night at Charlotte

Another Race, Another Top-10 Finish

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 26, 2020) – Kevin Harvick has started seven NASCAR Cup Series races in 2020 and has one win, five top-fives and has finished in the top-10 at every one.

It took a late caution and a heck of a drive by the veteran to keep that streak alive in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was off all night and was running between 12th and 16th during much of the race.

But on lap 399, William Byron spun and brought out a caution while Harvick was running 14th. He came to pit road, where crew chief Rodney Childers called for four ties and fuel, and Harvick restarted 13th.

In two laps, Harvick moved from 13th to sixth. After the race, Jimmie Johnson’s car was disqualified, moving Harvick up to fifth.

A lot of teams would have given up, but Harvick, Childers and the 4 team have been together for seven years and expect to win. The fifth-place result is nice, but this team expects to win every race.

So Childers and Harvick will come up with a plan for Wednesday night’s 310-mile race at Charlotte. And if Harvick leads 64 laps, he will have led 10,000 laps at SHR.

He’s led 14,362 in his career and trails 10th-place Kyle Busch, who has led 17,445, and Jimmie Johnson, who is ninth with 18,862 laps led, on the all-time list.

It’s Wednesday night under the light at Charlotte. And a victory would make it even sweeter.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
 Talk about Sunday’s race.
“We just missed the handling and had to battle all night trying to make it better. We left with a top-five somehow and we will be better on Wednesday.”

Another Wednesday-night race and the fourth race in 12 days. Can you talk about that?

“For me, it’s just gonna purely be the interaction, with not being able to have the interaction with the people, and communication will just be drastically different – how much you’re around people, how close you are to people and things of that nature. I’ve started races with no practice. We went through 9/11 and had a race cancelled and had things different, but this is just so drastically different that you just have to approach it drastically different with an open mind to know that there are gonna be things – before you even get there you have to know that there are going to be things drastically different than the way it was before, and just not be frustrated with things that don’t go right, things that are different.”

Monday, May 25, 2020

Charlotte Betting Preview: 2020 Alsco Uniforms 500K

Martin Truex Jr. led 87 laps Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600.
Date: Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Venue: Charlotte Motor Speedway
Television-Time: FS1, 8:00 p.m. ET

I’m going to get addicted to these Wednesday specials NASCAR is running due to the pandemic and I don’t think I want to go back to the old and tired format spread across a weekend and I’m sure the drivers would love an extra break of two in what amounts to the longest season or any pro sports league.

Racing February to late November, running almost every weekend, is for the birds.

The cool thing about Wednesday’s Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway that is far different from Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 -- NASCAR’s longest race -- is that drivers can’t wait around for six hours for their cars to come around.

It’s a marathon, and I love it, but the urgency of a short race creates so much more intensity throughout.

The Alsco Uniforms 500 is essentially 208 laps around the 1.5-mile high-banked track, almost half the distance they ran in Sunday’s long-distance event.

“It’s definitely going to be more of a sprint race with our M&M’S Fudge Brownie Camry,” said Kyle Busch of the shorter format. “Thankfully, my guys are really, really, really good on pit road and they probably passed the most cars Sunday night on pit road – more than I did. It’s definitely beneficial when you can come down pit road 15th, 10th, eighth, seventh, whatever it is, and those guys are going to get you five or six spots. I’m not too upset about where we have to start. We certainly saw that track position was a big deal on Sunday night, so we want to work our way to the front and stay there if we can. I know I’m up for it and the guys on pit road are up for the task, too, with how well they performed on Sunday night.”

Busch ended up fourth Sunday, a far better position than the car probably deserved, but it’s part of the reason that makes Busch a two-time Cup Champion. It was his second consecutive race using the 550 horsepower race package where he finished in the top-five but didn’t lead a lap. He’s still looking for a win in 2020 after seven races and his aggressive driving style makes him one of the top candidates to win which is why he’s a co-favorite at 6/1 odds.

NASCAR Betting Analysis - Charlotte

Busch will start from the 17th position Wednesday night. The top-20 finishers from Sunday will be inverted to create the starting lineup. No practices or qualifying, either so we’ll have to rely on what we saw Sunday as the main source of information after crew chiefs surely gained some valuable race notes. They want to be fast right off the hauler and recreate when they were fastest on Sunday as a set-up. It’s all at night -- no changing conditions like Sunday -- and the race goes by super fast.

Kyle Busch is 7/1 to win 2020 Alsco 500K at Charlotte

Wednesday Night Lights

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 25, 2020) – Until last Wednesday night’s event at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, the last time the NASCAR Cup Series ran a race on a Wednesday was almost 36 years ago – the Firecracker 400 on July 4, 1984. Back then, no matter on what day July 4 fell, NASCAR’s top series raced at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. That 1984 Firecracker 400 also happened to be one of the more memorable races in NASCAR history, as Richard Petty brought home the 200th win of his Cup Series career.

While the race last week at Darlington marked the first Wednesday Cup Series race in more than three decades, the next midweek event is set for just seven days later. The series heads back to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway for Wednesday night’s Alsco Uniforms 500k as NASCAR continues to make up races lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected events of every kind, not only in the United States but all over the world.

This Wednesday night, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Fudge Brownie Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will look to improve on his most recent outing, which resulted in a fourth-place finish in Sunday night’s traditional Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Busch ran up front for most of the first portion of the race, but a pit road speeding penalty sent him to the rear of the field. However, he and the M&M’S team were able to rally back to bring home his fourth top-five finish in seven races this season. Wednesday night’s 500-kilometer race replaces the cancelled race at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway originally scheduled for June. With a second-place finish last Wednesday at Darlington and the fourth-place run Sunday night at Charlotte, Busch is hoping the Sonoma replacement race nets him his third top-five in a row and first win of the season.

Busch has managed to enjoy plenty of success at the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval. He now has 14 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in his 31 previous Cup Series starts there over the past 14-plus seasons. In addition to solid Cup Series finishes, Busch has captured eight NASCAR Xfinity Series wins at Charlotte – May 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2010, October 2008 and 2009, and both May and October 2013. He also has eight NASCAR Truck Series wins at the track – 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2019.

While he had gone to Charlotte’s victory lane at early and often in the Xfinity and Truck Series, Busch only recently broke through in the Cup Series there. His 2017 win in the non-points All-Star Race was his first Cup Series win of any kind at the track. The following year, in 2018, Busch was able to win there again, this time in the points-paying Coca-Cola 600 to add another crown jewel to his already impressive resume.

So as the Cup Series continues its busy run of eight races in less than a month, Busch and his M&M’S Fudge Brownie team hope they can break through for the first of many wins under the Wednesday night lights at Charlotte. He’ll hope to keep the momentum he’s built over the last two races as the season is finally able to kick into full gear for the summer.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Fudge Brownie Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 
With track position being so important, how will you approach Wednesday night with the inversion of the top-20 grid positions?

“It’s definitely going to be more of a sprint race with our M&M’S Fudge Brownie Camry. Thankfully, my guys are really, really, really good on pit road and they probably passed the most cars Sunday night on pit road – more than I did. It’s definitely beneficial when you can come down pit road 15th, 10th, eighth, seventh, whatever it is, and those guys are going to get you five or six spots. I’m not too upset about where we have to start. We certainly saw that track position was a big deal on Sunday night, so we want to work our way to the front and stay there if we can. I know I’m up for it and the guys on pit road are up for the task, too, with how well they performed on Sunday night.”

It seemed you had some pretty big swings in handling on Sunday night. Will you go back and try and figure out why that was the case and make some changes for Wednesday night?

“The only thing I can really attribute it to is tires. That’s the only thing that makes sense. When you go and you have two runs that are really, really good and you have tires on and you don’t make any changes, and then you make one slight air pressure adjustment with the next set of tires and it goes haywire, you have to think it’s the tires. You didn’t put a wedge wrench in the thing, you didn’t change anything too crazy. Also, track position sometimes, too, is a factor. When you’re further up toward the front, the cars drive way, way better. We had the speeding penalty there and it put it toward the back and it certainly handled differently back there than up at the front of the field. When you get back in the seventh to ninth to 11th range, you are just out of control and have no grip. So I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and I will go back and talk about how to make our car better this week and we’ll see what happens.”

Do you feel you’re in race shape now that you’ve run three Cup Series races since the shutdown?

“I felt good after all of these races. We had the race last Sunday at Darlington and it was a little warmer out and I saw a couple of guys get out of the car and kind of sit next to their car and they were pretty wet and kind of hot and overheated maybe a little bit. I felt fine. Then, no issues the last couple of races, certainly a bit easier when they are at night and cooler outside. I’ve got enough cooling and things like that where I feel pretty good and ready to go.”

Driver Matchups Selections for Alsco 500K at Charlotte

Kurt Busch led the first 54 laps of the Coca-Cola 600.

Driver selections shaded in yellow

Martin TRUEX JR - 120

Martin TRUEX JR - 150
Kyle BUSCH +130

Martin TRUEX JR - 150
Alex BOWMAN +130

Chase ELLIOTT - 140
Kyle BUSCH +120

Chase ELLIOTT - 140
Alex BOWMAN +120

Kyle BUSCH - 110
Alex BOWMAN - 110

Kyle BUSCH - 130
Kevin HARVICK +110

Alex BOWMAN - 130
Kevin HARVICK +110

Joey LOGANO - 110
Denny HAMLIN - 110

Joey LOGANO - 110

Joey LOGANO - 120

Joey LOGANO - 120

Denny HAMLIN - 110

Denny HAMLIN - 120

Denny HAMLIN - 120



Jimmie JOHNSON - 110
Ryan BLANEY - 110

Erik JONES - 110
William BYRON - 110

Erik JONES - 125
Kurt BUSCH +105

William BYRON - 125
Kurt BUSCH +105

Aric ALMIROLA - 110
Matt KENSETH - 110

Tyler REDDICK - 120

Tyler REDDICK - 120

Chris BUESCHER - 120
Christopher BELL EVEN

Austin DILLON - 120

Aric Almirola is 60/1 to win at Charlotte Wednesday night

Same Track, Much Different Race at Charlotte 

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 25, 2020) – Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will head back to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Wednesday night for its second of back-to-back races at the 1.5-mile oval. 

Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team endured a difficult evening at Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. After starting in the rear from adjustments made on the car after slight contact with the wall in qualifying, the No. 10 team persevered and made its way back to the top-10 after 398 laps. On the final restart, Almirola was shuffled to the middle lane with no help and finished 16th. If it weren’t for the final caution, Almirola would have been the highest-finishing SHR driver and third-highest Ford driver. 

As the Smithfield Ford team heads back to the 1.5-mile oval, it will take some things it learned from Sunday night’s race and apply it to Wednesday night’s 208-lap race, which is nearly half of the Coca Cola 600’s. 

“Sunday was a long day,” Almirola said. “We battled loose-handling conditions, then neutral, then extremely tight conditions with those long runs and it made it so difficult to pass. We won’t have those same issues coming back here on Wednesday with the stage lengths being so much shorter, so that’s something that we’ll have to adapt to. It’s nearly half of Sunday’s race, so you’re going to see completely different strategies from teams.”

Almirola will again run a special red, white and blue patriotic paint scheme with Smithfield adorning the hood. Smithfield Foods Inc., who will sponsor Almirola’s car this weekend and at the majority of races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®,” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies.

Last weekend, Almirola ran the same patriotic paint scheme that featured United States Army SPC Seth Blevins, who paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2011 in Eastern Kunar Province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.  

“It was a big deal,” Almirola said. “I was honored to have him and his family on my car. We get to do whatever we want, whenever we want, because he paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

The 36-year-old Almirola has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Charlotte and garnered one top-five finish, three top-10s and has completed 99.4 percent of all possible laps. He also has two Charlotte starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, which both resulted in top-10 finishes.

Almirola has three top-10s this season and sits 10th in the driver standings with 208 points – 83 behind first-place SHR teammate Kevin Harvick.  

After a rollercoaster of difficulties and perseverance Sunday night,  Almirola has a simple approach to his second Charlotte race in three days.

“We’ll regroup and get ’em on Wednesday night,” he said. “We did it in Darlington.” 
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Will there be takeaways from the Coke 600 to apply to a race with almost half the laps? 

“Yes and no. We’re still racing at night, so that applies, but we won’t see those extremely long runs. The team and I have to take our notes from shorter runs similar to what we’ll see Wednesday night. It will be action-packed, and track position and perfection on pit road will be even more important because there won’t be many laps to catch up.”

What do you do to prepare yourself for four races in 11 days?

“I’ve done a lot of heat training and I stay extremely active on my bike at home. It’s something I have always seen as a boost to my career. I know I’m physically prepared when I get in that car and, at the end of the race, I feel hydrated and ready to go.”

Clint Bowyer is 60/1 to win at Charlotte Wednesday night

PEAK Shape for Wednesday Night's Charlotte 500k

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 25, 2020) – When Clint Bowyer fires his engine at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Wednesday night for the NASCAR Cup Series’ 500-kilometer race, it will mark the fourth of five races in a 14-day span since the sport returned from a 10-week hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The frenetic schedule after a long layoff  might be too much, too soon, for some drivers, but like his PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze partner, the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver isn’t about to get overheated when times are tough.

In fact Bowyer sort of likes the busy schedule.

“It’s kind of fun man,” he said. “It’s the same for everybody. I miss racing like this. It reminds me of the old days when I was racing two or three nights a week on dirt, or even when I first started my NASCAR career when I was running the Xfinity cars. With a day or two in between, it isn’t really a big deal.”

Wednesday will continue to see NASCAR operate under a comprehensive health and safety plan that permits no fans, limited crew, strict social distancing, and mandated personal protective equipment and health screenings for all just as it did for two races in Darlington last week and Sunday’s 600-mile race in Charlotte.

In that most recent race at Charlotte, Bowyer was relegated to a last-place finish after a mechanical issue sent his No. 14 Mustang hard into the wall after he ran just 96 laps. He was racing in 11th place at the time of the accident.

“That was pretty much a helpless feeling,” said Bowyer, who has struggled to get a good finish, of late, despite running well.

He was 17th and 22nd in the two races at Darlington in NASCAR’s first events since March 8 due to the pandemic. Bowyer ran in the top-six most of the race in the May 17 Darlington race before late-race problems dropped him to 17th. Last Wednesday, he won the first two stages – the first driver to do so in 2020 – and led 71 laps surpassing the 3,000 mark for career laps led. But once again, trouble very late in the race led to wall contact and a spin, resulting in a disappointing finish.

Wednesday’s race will mark the second of several primary races planned for this season for Bowyer with Old World Industries, the parent company of the PEAK and BlueDEF® brands. PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze will serve as the No. 14 team’s sponsor at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway in September.

PEAK’s legacy in motorsports spans 40 years and includes leading drivers Dale Earnhardt, Michael Waltrip and Kyle Petty. Besides Bowyer’s No. 14 team, PEAK is a partner with Haas F1 Team and its drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen, the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series, and drag racing’s winningest driver John Force.

PEAK will celebrate its first NASCAR victory on Thursday when it hosts a live viewing party to watch a replay of Petty and then-crew chief Gary Nelson’s domination of the 1990 race at Rockingham, N.C. Petty led 433 of 492 laps that afternoon. Fans can join in on PEAK’s Facebook page and YouTube channel (Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/peakauto YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/peakcarcare)  for the one-time-only viewing Thursday at 7 p.m. EDT.

There will also be a special announcement by Bowyer during the event.

There isn’t much rest planned for the days after Charlotte. The Cup Series will return to action at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Sunday, then Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 7, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on June 10 for the third Wednesday-night event since returning to racing, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on June 14, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on June 21.

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your thoughts on NASCAR leading the way for the return of sports in America?
“I was proud to be part of a sport that stepped up and figured out how to make us safe and how to handle the situation. They did a great job. Was it overkill in some areas? Yes, but you’ve got to be that way right now. You’ve got to cover everything. They checked all the boxes twice, took care of business and put cars on the track, which is what everyone wanted to see. I’m proud to be part of that. It went down well in both Darlington and in Charlotte on Sunday.”

How is the confidence after running so well since the return from the hiatus but having some back luck since?
“The way we are running, I think we can pounce on one and get one here. We just have to get rid of some of the bad luck. And, trust me, there’s not a team that will party as much as the old 14 car.”

What do you think of your PEAK Coolant & Antifreeze paint scheme?
“I think it looks great, and I have always said any paint scheme looks good in victory lane, so maybe we can put it in victory lane and make her look spectacular.”

Odds to Win 2020 Alsco Uniforms 500K at Charlotte

Chase Elliott is 5/1 to win Wednesday at Charlotte.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020 - 8:00 PM ET

Martin TRUEX JR 9/2
Chase ELLIOTT 5/1
Kyle BUSCH 7/1
Alex BOWMAN 7/1
Kevin HARVICK 10/1
Joey LOGANO 12/1
Denny HAMLIN 12/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 14/1
Ryan BLANEY 14/1
Erik JONES 16/1
William BYRON 16/1
Kurt BUSCH 25/1
Aric ALMIROLA 60/1
Matt KENSETH 60/1
Clint BOWYER 60/1
Tyler REDDICK 60/1
Ryan NEWMAN 100/1
Austin DILLON 80/1
Chris BUESCHER 300/1
Christopher BELL 300/1
Cole CUSTER 300/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 300/1
John Hunter NEMECHEK 300/1
Ryan PREECE 1000/1
Michael McDOWELL 1000/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 1000/1
Ty DILLON 1000/1
Daniel SUAREZ 5000/1
Corey LAJOIE 5000/1
Brennan POOLE 5000/1
Joey GASE 5000/1
JJ YELEY 5000/1
Timmy HILL 5000/1
Quin HOUFF 5000/1
Garrett SMITHLEY 5000/1
Reed SORENSON 5000/1
Josh BILICKI 5000/1
BJ McLEOD 5000/1

Late caution propels Brad Keselowski to victory in Coca-Cola 600

Brad Keselowski had 10/1 odds to win Sunday.
May 24, 2020
By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
A late caution set Brad Keselowski up for victory in NASCAR’s longest race—and set Chase Elliott up for a second straight crushing disappointment.
In Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, which went to overtime for the second time in its history, Keselowski surged ahead after a restart on Lap 404 and beat Jimmie Johnson to the finish line by .293 seconds to win a race that stretched to 607.5 miles, longest in NASCAR history.
Elliott led Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford by 1.6 seconds before Elliott’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, William Byron, spun with a flat tire as Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet approached the start/finish line to complete Lap 398 of a scheduled 400.
Elliott pitted under the eighth caution, as eight drivers stayed out on old tires. Restarting 11th on Lap 404, Elliott charged to third in the two-lap overtime but could go no further. On Wednesday, Elliott was running second with a chance to win at Darlington when a misjudgment by Kyle Busch sent him hard into the inside wall minutes before rain halted the race and made a winner of Denny Hamlin.
"I feel like I’ve thrown this race away a couple of times, and I thought we were going to lose it today," said Keselowski, who surrendered the lead to Elliott on Lap 363 and watched Elliott gradually pull away. "I know we’ve lost it the way Chase lost it, and that really stinks, and today we finally won it that way (by staying out).
"It’s major! It’s the Coke 600. That only leaves one major for me, the Daytona 500. We’re checking ‘em off. We may not have been the fastest car today, but, whoa, did we grind this one out. The pit crew on the yellow before the last had a blazing stop to get us up front."
Keselowski’s victory was his first NASCAR Cup Series triumph of the season, his second at Charlotte and 31st of his career. The win was Ford’s first in the Coca-Cola 600 since Mark Martin visited Victory Lane in 2002.
Elliott found himself in a thankless position after Byron’s spin. Whether crew chief Alan Gustafson brought him to pit road or not for the overtime, cars behind him were certain to do the opposite.
"That’s got to be a joke," Elliott said on his radio when the yellow came out for Byron’s spin.
"You just try to make the best decision you can," Elliott added after the race. "Those guys are just going to do the opposite of whatever we do. That’s just a part of it. You make decisions and you live with them. It wasn’t the pit call—I think being on offense is fine.
"Like I said, those guys are going to do whatever’s the opposite of what you do."
Opting to stay out, Johnson secured the runner-up position to post his best finish since winning at Dover in the 13th race of 2017. But Johnson’s first thought was for the disappointment his teammate felt.
"I feel sorry for Chase," Johnson said. "Last week—Wednesday, it was—he had such a great car, and to be leading here and have the caution come out with a couple to go, I feel bad for him.
"But I’m very proud of my team, very proud of everybody. Second’s OK, but it’s tough being this close to Victory Lane. But we’ll get there."
Rain interrupted the race on Lap 50, necessitating a red-flag period of one hour, eight minutes, 35 seconds for track drying. Starting from the pole after edging Johnson by .009 seconds during qualifying earlier in the day, Kurt Busch led the first 54 laps but lost the lead under caution for the rain and slipped back to 10th by the end of Stage 1.
Alex Bowman, on the other hand, grabbed the top spot with a two-tire stop under yellow on Lap 54 and won the first 100-lap stage under caution three laps after Clint Bowyer broke a lower control arm in the front suspension and rocketed into the outside wall in Turn 1.
The No. 14 Ford was billowing smoke when Bowyer climbed out, unharmed but frustrated.
"It knocked the wind out of me there," Bowyer acknowledged. "I mean, we’re 100 laps into a 400-lap race, and to be out already—you talk about a helpless feeling. The guys worked really hard on the (car), but it just wasn’t meant to be. 
"We’ll get ready for next Wednesday (the Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte), and we’ll be back at it. I’m going to go somewhere and take this thing (Hans device) off and find somewhere where I can find a cold beer. I’m out of here."
Bowman dominated Stage 2, leading comfortably except for a cycle of green-flag pit stops midway through the 94-lap green-flag run to the halfway point. On Lap 203, the cars stopped in line on pit road in remembrance of the fallen heroes who have become such an integral part of the Memorial Day weekend race.
After pit stops, Bowman kept his advantage and led the first 23 laps of Stage 3, but Martin Truex Jr., the runner-up in the first and second stages, got past Bowman in traffic on Lap 224 and held the point through a cycle of green-flag stops.
But Truex lost the lead in the pits under caution for Matt Kenseth’s contact with the outside wall on Lap 276, when Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott stayed out on old tires. Uncomfortable with the feel of his car after a two-tire stop, Truex restarted fourth and fell back to fifth by the end of Stage 3, which Logano held on to win, with Bowman running second.
Truex held the held early in the final stage but couldn’t get back to the front after the penultimate restart on Lap 353.
Ryan Blaney ran fourth, followed by Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Truex and Kurt Busch. Tyler Reddick ran ninth and Christopher Bell 10th, the best finish of the season for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender.
Bowman led a race-high 164 laps, followed by Truex with 87. Keselowski was out front for 21 circuits.
Wednesday night’s Darlington winner, Denny Hamlin, had a major issue before the race started. On the pace laps, a two blocks of tungsten ballast fell off the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, forcing Hamlin to the pits to have the weight replaced.
By the time Hamlin exited pit road, he was eight laps down, scored 40th. Additional post-race penalties are likely, given how serious an infraction NASCAR deems the failure to secure ballast.
NASCAR Cup Series Race - 61st Annual COCA-COLA 600
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Concord, North Carolina
Sunday, May 24, 2020
                1. (9)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 405.
                2. (2)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 405.
                3. (3)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 405.
                4. (26)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 405.
                5. (11)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 405.
                6. (22)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 405.
                7. (8)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 405.
                8. (1)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 405.
                9. (5)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 405.
                10. (15)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 405.
                11. (19)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 405.
                12. (14)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 405.
                13. (28)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 405.
                14. (7)  Joey Logano, Ford, 405.
                15. (6)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 405.
                16. (40)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 405.
                17. (25)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 405.
                18. (33)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 405.
                19. (27)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 405.
                20. (12)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 405.
                21. (10)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 404.
                22. (21)  Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, 403.
                23. (29)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 403.
                24. (24)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 403.
                25. (17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 402.
                26. (16)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 401.
                27. (4)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 401.
                28. (18)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 400.
                29. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 399.
                30. (13)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 398.
                31. (35)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 398.
                32. (31)  Gray Gaulding, Ford, 397.
                33. (36)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 393.
                34. (38)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 391.
                35. (32)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 390.
                36. (30)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 390.
                37. (39)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 385.
                38. (34)  JJ Yeley(i), Chevrolet, DVP, 251.
                39. (23)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, Vibration, 164.
                40. (20)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, Accident, 96.
Average Speed of Race Winner:  135.042 mph.
Time of Race:  4 Hrs, 29 Mins, 55 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .293 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  8 for 52 laps.
Lead Changes:  20 among 11 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   K. Busch 1-54;A. Bowman 55-159;J. Johnson 160-162;J. Nemechek # 163;R. Preece 164;R. Stenhouse Jr. 165;A. Bowman 166-223;M. Truex Jr. 224-255;B. Keselowski 256-262;M. Truex Jr. 263-277;J. Logano 278-302;A. Bowman 303;M. DiBenedetto 304-306;J. Logano 307;M. Truex Jr. 308;M. DiBenedetto 309-311;M. Truex Jr. 312-350;J. Johnson 351-353;B. Keselowski 354-362;C. Elliott 363-400;B. Keselowski 401-405.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Alex Bowman 3 times for 164 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 4 times for 87 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 54 laps; Chase Elliott 1 time for 38 laps; Joey Logano 2 times for 26 laps; Brad Keselowski 3 times for 21 laps; Matt DiBenedetto 2 times for 6 laps; Jimmie Johnson 2 times for 6 laps; Ryan Preece 1 time for 1 lap; John Hunter Nemechek # 1 time for 1 lap; Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 88,19,9,8,22,18,3,48,24,1
Stage #2 Top Ten: 88,19,18,24,9,20,22,3,12,48
Stage #3 Top Ten: 22,88,12,48,19,18,20,2,3,24