CONCORD, N.C. – Brad Keselowski kept Roger Penske’s strong Sunday going with another convincing stage victory during the second stage of the 60th annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Keselowski used fresh tires to power from 11th to first on a seven-lap sprint to the stage break, taking the top spot away from Alex Bowman on lap 199 and running out to a four car-length win in the stage.
The 2012 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has now won both stages so far in Sunday night’s race, leading 73 of the first 200 laps on NASCAR’s longest night.
Bowman, who has finished second in the last three Cup Series races, finished second to Keselowski and hopes to break his bridesmaid curse with a victory at the checkered flag that really counts later on.
“We started off pretty bad tonight; we were way too tight,” Bowman admitted. “Greg and the guys have made some really good adjustments to make it better, though, and we’re closer to where we need to be. Right now, we’re a bit free in and a little tight off, but we’re much better and I think we have a shot.”
Kyle Busch crossed the stripe in third, followed by Chase Elliott and polesitter William Byron, giving Hendrick Motorsports three of the top five positions in the stage.
Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson completed the points-scoring drivers inside the top 10 at the second stage break of the night.
Three cautions, all for tire failures, dotted the second stage. Chris Buescher hit the wall in turn four on lap 127, Denny Hamlin tagged the barrier in turn two at lap 161 and Ryan Preece made contact in turn one with 12 laps to go before the second stage break of the night.
Following the caution flag being displayed, the field was brought down pit road and parked on pit road – just before the start/finish line – on lap 201 for a 30-second moment of remembrance in honor of Memorial Day and the armed service members who have given their lives in service to the United States.