CONCORD — In a wild five-and-a-half-hour Coca-Cola 600 that had five wrecks within the final 50 laps, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney came out on top in the rain-postponed conclusion to Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The 29-year-old snapped a 59-race winless streak for his eighth career victory on Monday night as he held off pole sitter and second-place finisher William Byron after leading a career-high 163 laps throughout the race.
Following a late restart, Blaney edged past Byron and went on to lead the final 26 laps for his first Cup Series victory since the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona in August 2021.
Following Blaney and Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace, Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Austin Dillon and Zane Smith rounded out the rest of the top ten Coca-Cola 600 finishers.
It was a monumental weekend for team owner Roger Penske, whose drivers pulled off a Memorial Day weekend sweep as Josef Newgarden won the Indianapolis 500 a day earlier.
Following his win, Newgarden jumped out of his vehicle and climbed into the crowd to celebrate with cheering fans — a symbolic gesture of appreciation and excitement that Blaney reenacted in Concord.
“I only did it because Josef did it,” Blaney told Fox Sports. “I was pretty fired up. I don’t get that excited very often, but I was super pumped. I loved how Josef did it Sunday. … I said, ‘I am going to go in the stands like Josef did and have some human contact.’”
A visibly emotional Blaney reflected on the weight that had been lifted from his shoulders after going almost two years without a win.
“You start to feel like you can’t win anymore. We hadn’t won in a while and that can get hard. I want to thank the 12 team for believing in me,” Blaney said. “Obviously, Memorial Day weekend means a lot, growing up here watching Dad [longtime Cup Series driver Dave Blaney] run this race for a long time. And it was so cool to just be a part of it, let alone win it. I was able to get the lead on the restart, and our car was so good that I could kind of bide my time a little bit and we were gonna drive off.”
The race — originally set for a start time of 6 p.m. on Sunday night — was pushed till Monday after a rain-soaked weekend in the Carolinas that also washed out practice and qualifying. For the first time in Coca-Cola 600 history, drivers began the race at 3 p.m. on Monday without even having turned a single lap of the 1.5-mile oval racetrack.
With his Coke 600 victory, Blaney moved up to second place in the Cup Series standings with 445 points as he sits just a single point behind Ross Chastain, who finished 22nd at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Byron (442), Kevin Harvick (438) and Truex (433) round out the current top five spots.
Following a three-week series of races in North Carolina, the NASCAR Cup Series will head to the World Wide Technology Raceway in St. Louis for the Enjoy Illinois 300 on June 4 at 3:30 p.m.