Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver Hamlin executed a long-haul fuel strategy plan in the final stage that meant he spent less time in pit road, as Stewart-Haas Ford’s Harvick got stuck in traffic in the crucial final run. Erik Jones made a late surge to finish third, while Chase Elliott and Aric Almirola rounded out the top five.
Kurt Busch won Stage 1, after a fierce duel with Ryan Blaney was disrupted by Jimmie Johnson, who was battling to ensure he’d get his lap back at the stage break on a strategy gamble. Blaney suffered a big slide, and was forced to settle for second.
Brad Keselowski won Stage 2, ahead of Almirola, in a two-lap shootout after a series of late yellows. The last of these for for Chris Buescher spinning and almost taking out Bubba Wallace.
The shock news from this stage was Kyle Busch crashing out with nine laps to go, wrecking on the exit of Turn 2 after contact from Blaney as they were racing hard for position and came up to lap Garrett Smithley. Following the incident, Busch declined to discuss it with reporters as his view would “come across in a bad way”.
The race was delayed by weather, as lightning in the vicinity sent the cars to pit road after a handful of laps. After a further delay for rain showers, the race restarted and ran for its full duration into the evening, despite fears that it might have to end early due to a lack of daylight.
Big wrecks for Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell took them out of the race in Stage 1 and 2 respectively.