By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The second stage, like the first stage, of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway got off to a quick start.
Kyle Busch pitted from the lead between Stages 1 and 2. Martin Truex, Jr. regained the lead in his No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota Camry after the pit stops.
When the race restarted, Truex pulled away from Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson and his No. 42 Target Chevrolet SS finally cracked the top five after starting 39th.
Kevin Harvick pitted just over 20 laps into Stage 2 with a loose wheel on his No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion. He lost a lap during the unscheduled pit stop.
On lap 142, Matt DiBenedetto cut a right front tire and hit the outside wall in turns one and two. DiBenedetto’s No. 32 Cosmo Motors Ford Fusion grinded to a halt, bringing out the caution. Harvick was the lucky dog during that caution.
Lightning and rain forced the race to be red-flagged with 57 laps left in Stage 2. The red flag lasted one hour and 40 minutes. Joey Logano pitted twice under the ensuing yellow due to a loose wheel.
The race restart on lap 153 with Truex walking away from Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Ryan Blaney. However, Truex was not on his own for long as Johnson slowly tracked him back down.
The caution waved on lap 174 when Danica Patrick lost a tire in turns three and four. Somehow Patrick kept her No. 10 Code 3 Associates Ford Fusion out of the wall.
During the round of pit stops, Blaney broke an axle on his No. 21 Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire and Auto Center Ford Fusion, forcing him to head to the garage to make repairs.
Paul Menard’s Richard Childress Racing team elected to take an alternate strategy and stayed on track while everyone else pitted. Both Truex and Johnson made quick work of Menard as he slipped back through the field.
Truex pulled away and was the first to take the green and white checkered flag, 0.352 seconds ahead of Johnson. Truex gained 10 Driver Championship Points and one Playoff Point. Kenseth was third with Kyle Busch fourth and Kurt Busch fifth. Jamie McMurray, Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Kyle Larson, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the Top 10 in Stage 2.