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Coca-Cola 600 sets (extra) stage for playoff push

10 June 2017

He has totaled 26 Cup Series wins since then, a grand total of zero having come at one of racing's most famous tracks.

Martin Truex Jr. drives his vehicle into Turn 1 during qualifying for Sunday's NASCAR Cup series auto race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Thursday, May 25, 2017.

A seemingly agitated Busch, cupping his face in his hands after sitting down, entered the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway Center shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Kyle Larson, who entered the race as the points leader, received heavy damage after blowing a right-front tyre on lap 291 and colliding with the wall.

It's only the second time a Ford won the pole in the last 16 Cup races at Charlotte.

It was the first win for the No. 3 vehicle in NASCAR Cup Series since Dale Earnhardt Sr. won on October 15, 2000, at Talladega.

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Despite questions from Earnhardt fans about whether or not Richard Childress - Dillon's grandfather - should ever bring the vehicle back to the track, he was justified on Sunday.

Dillon passed an out-of-gas Jimmie Johnson two laps from the end for his first Cup victory. It turns out there was nothing wrong with Larson's vehicle, but the crew didn't get it on the platform right away. He also is a four-time victor of this very event.

Childress said the moment didn't sink in until he looked up at the board after the race.

Especially with how Dillon accomplished it. Crew chief Justin Alexander decided that while much of the field would pit with about 35 to go, Dillon would stay out and gamble he'd have enough fuel to make it. After running out of fuel, Johnson tumbled to 17.

After the subsequent restart on Lap 28, the rest of the first 100-lap stage ran caution-free, with Kyle Busch passing Truex on Lap 90 and pulling away to secure the playoff point accorded the stage victor.

"It hasn't sunk in".

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"Those guys are performing, so they're going to talk about them", Dillon said. "We're in the chase, baby".

Busch took the race lead from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Hamlin, and Truex moved into second on the restart at the beginning of the fourth and final 100-lap stage.

Austin Dillon took the lead on the backstretch and his first career as win Johnson limped around on fumes to a 17th-place finish. Harvick retook the lead by getting off pit road first during the first caution of the race on lap 20. Still, after scoring points in the first two stages and leading three times for 35 circuits, Johnson was still pleased with his vehicle. "So that's a little tough to swallow", he said.

There was fire followed by rain in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Johnson limped home to finish in 17th.

"Can you believe this? the Coke 600, Austin Dillon, the 3", Childress said. Just as in all the other regular-season races, points will be awarded to the top 10 drivers at the end of each stage and the victor of each stage will be awarded a playoff point, with the regular five playoff points and all drivers earning regular-season points at the end of the race. I just got loose and then I hit it and it ruined our day.

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