By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The first stage of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway got off to a quick start. Kasey Kahne and Ty Dillon had to start the race from the rear. Kahne for a rear gear change, and Dillon for an unapproved tire change.
Kyle Busch took the lead in his No. 18 M&M’s Red, White, and Blue Toyota Camry from polesitter Kevin Harvick in turn one just after the start.
Jeffrey Earnhardt’s engine blew apart on the track on lap 21. Debris from Earnhardt’s engine ripped through Chase Elliott’s No. 24 NAPA Chevrolet SS. Elliott’s car burst into flames as it dropped oil on the frontstretch.
Brad Keselowski was left with nowhere to go as he drove into the oil and clobbered the rear of Elliott’s car, demolishing both cars. Erik Jones and Danica Patrick also hit the debris while Martin Truex, Jr., and Jimmie Johnson slid through the carnage.
Harvick’s No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion team earned him the lead on pit road under the ensuing caution. He pulled away until green flag pit stops came about with 35 laps left in Stage 1. Denny Hamlin was penalized for speeding on pit road during the green flag pit stops.
After the pit stops, Truex assumed the lead until Busch passed him on lap 92. Busch pulled away, briefly being held up by Paul Menard before cruising to win Stage 1 of the 2017 Coca-Cola 600.
Kyle Busch gained 10 Driver Points as well as one Playoff Point for his Stage 1 win. Truex finished the stage in second with Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top five. Kyle Larson, who started 39th after failing to get through the Laser Inspection Station in pre-qualifying tech was sixth. Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the Top 10 in Stage 1.