Race Breakdown

Unprecedented!  Another race.  Another round of unprecedented events.  

For over a year, NASCAR Nation had been anxiously awaiting the Kyle Larson’s attempt to run the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day. Unfortunately, it was Mother Nature who ruined the effort and Rick Hendrick’s decisions set off a controversy that took into June to reach resolution.

To refresh, Rain delayed the start of the Indy 500. So much so that if Larson ran the entire race, he would not make it to Charlotte in time for the start of the 600, even with the accommodations NASCAR was going to make. Faced with three options-Run the entire 500 and hope that the threatening weather delayed the start of the 600 long enough for him to make the start of the 600, Start the 500 and switch drivers at the point where Larson could still make the start of the 600, not start the 500 and go on to Charlotte for the start of the 600 or finally, run the ‘World’s Greatest Spectacle in Motor Racing” and screw the 600 – it is what it is.

Hendrick chose the last.

As Larson was logging laps around the Brickyard on his way to a P18 finish and Rookie of the Year Awards, the field rolled off at CMS for the longest race of the year. Justin Allgaier piloting the Larson-less #5 dropped to the rear and was keeping the seat warm and the fenders on until the usual wheelman showed up from his gig up north.

Teammate William Byron beat Ty Gibbs to the line to win Stage One. Christopher Bell flexed his muscle to take Stage 2. In the meantime, Allgaier was giving the #5 a ride climbing from 37th up through the field to a solid Top 15, just waiting for Larson to arrive and finish the deal.  

Unfortunately, it never happened. Lightening and then rain moved into the area bringing the race to a halt just before Larson arrived. High humidity was blamed for slow track drying, and NASCAR called the race before it could be restarted.  

Christopher Bell, who had been a dominate force all night leading 90 of the 249 laps run was up front when the race was called, and he was declared the winner. It was his 2ndwin of the season and 8th Career Cup win, tying him for 89th with Kyle Petty. Bell ranks 10th on the Active, Full Time Cup Win List and 4th in the GEN 7 Win List.

Kyle Larson never got in the car.  Since he didn’t start the race he earned no points and dropped from the Regular Season Points lead to P3. More importantly, since he didn’t start the race, we would not be able to compete for the Championship, which requires competitors to attempt to start every race of the season.  So, unless NASCAR granted him a waiver, his Championship hopes were toast. 

 Kyle Larson, driver of the #5, looks on during a weather delay in the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26, 2024 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

What followed was a tempest of controversy – should be get the waiver or not… yada, yada, yada… click, click, click…  When the ether all settled, Kyle Larson was granted a waiver and was back in the Playoffs much to the satisfaction of his fans and followers.

Justin Allgaier got a very respectable P13 for his efforts.

Lost in it all was C Bell’s impressive win that saw him lead 90 of the 249 laps, win two Stages, was passed the fewest times of the cars running at the end, tied his teammate Byron for high Racing Lead Changes (2), saw his jump two places in the RLC Standings and collect his second win of the season.

Lead Change Breakdown

Here is a statistical breakdown of the changes we saw at Charlotte:

Bell and Byron each had two RLCs, while Elliott picked up a solo.  Although Denny Hamlin made no Racing Lead Changes in the last two races, he continues to lead the RLC Standings by a hefty margin. 

Charlotte’s 5 RLCs ranks 5th in the RLC Track Ranking.  Talladega had the most with 49 and Richmond had a single.

Passing Breakdown

Here is a breakdown of the remainder of passes throughout the race.  Like ten of the fourteen races this season, the bulk of the passing was found in the P16-P37 positions or the back of the field.

White Flag Thoughts

Here’s some thoughts coming down to the Checkered Flag…

Congratulations to Christopher Bell on his Memorial Day weekend win.

Tip of the hat to all the fans who stayed with the broadcast in hopes it would restart. Show of hands-how many thought Larson would win had the race restarted and run the remaining distance? That’s what I thought.

You fans who weathered the storms and hung in there, just knowing it was going to restart… You ROCK!

Not going to spend any time on the Larson Waiver discussion other than to say there is a lot about this that doesn’t make sense to this fan. Seems to be a whole lot more to the story that just hasn’t surfaced yet.  Anyway, it is what it is.

Having witnessed John Andretti and Tony Stewart’s attempts at the Double, I remember the excitement (and yes drama) surrounding it. I don’t recall any accommodations made on the 600 side – it was up to those drivers to be there come kickoff time. That just added to it and made it an even more impressive accomplishment. The 2024 could not be faulted for the effort, unfortunately the weather just made it one letdown after another until the final decision to call the 600 because of humidity took the final breath of air out of the sails.

This day, the longest day in Motor Sports with F1 in Monaco, Indy and then the 600 is always a haul under the best of conditions. The conditions this time were far from the best, which made it one I’d just soon forget.

The great thing though there is another race.  On to Gateway!   

Thunder On… and Stay Safe!

David Nance

Photo Credit (cover):  David Jensen/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.