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Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: Coca-Cola 600

The longest race of the season, Memorial Day weekend, a thrilling finish, a first-time winner, a driver live tweeting the race, competitors getting lost during a rain delay — what more could you ask for? The Coca-Cola 600 never disappoints, and this year’s running of NASCAR’s iconic race was no exception.

THUMBS UP to another first-time winner in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. It took 133 tries, but Austin Dillon pulled it off. All it took was a little bit of extra fuel — and some wood paneling, apparently.

(Turns out the car couldn’t pass inspection if it were actually made of wood, but the wood-printed vinyl wrap is pretty close.)

And, of course, a bonus thumbs-up to the No. 3 crew for joining in on their driver’s trademark victory celebration of, well, sliding stomach-first across the grass, thus creating the greatest GIF of the 2017 season so far.

THUMBS DOWN to stormy weather during the race. Everybody knows rain is bad, but when it adds two hours to the longest race of the year, it creates problems — like rookie drivers getting lost, for instance. Gray Gaulding, making his first 600 start, was nowhere to be found once drivers were called back to their cars after the Air Titans dried the track.

Gaulding eventually found his way back to the grid, along with Timmy Hill, who had also gone missing. Close call. A swift thumbs down to rain … although, the post-storm rainbow was admittedly cool.

THUMBS UP to the paint schemes of the Coca-Cola 600. The 600 always brings out the best designs of the season. Let’s take a moment to appreciate a few of these.

… the No. 2’s paint didnโ€™t last for too long, but it looked pretty good for the first 19 laps.

Speaking of …

THUMBS DOWN to engines that fall apart. Sure, the Coca-Cola 600 is the longest race on the schedule, putting drivers and their machines to their ultimate test, but it must be a disappointment for something to go mechanically wrong before the first stage flag waves.

Think about it — you’re ready to race your heart out for 400 laps, go from day to night, figure out how well the “sticky groove” helps your speed, make enemies out of your neighbors on pit road …

… only for something mechanical to fail in the opening laps of the race, like what happened to Jeffrey Earnhardt’s car just minutes after the green flag.

Debris from the No. 33’s rear end (no, not that kind — gross) littered the track after the parts failure, putting a hole in the nose of Chase Elliott’s car, which ended up in the path of a Brad Keselowski, ending all three drivers’ nights.

Things that break prematurely are the worst. Major thumbs down.

THUMBS UP, on the other hand, to Brad Keselowski for joining fans on social media after crashing out of the race early.

From heading to Facebook Live to posting innuendo-laden Tweets (courtesy of his sponsor, Miller Lite), the conversation became quite interesting.

Keselowski deserves some credit for being a good sport — and his time on Facebook Live and Twitter probably made some people wish he’d crash out early more often, for one reason or another.

THE BIGGEST THUMBS UP OF THE WEEK goes to the overall presence of pride on this Memorial Day weekend. From the patriotic paint schemes to special Goodyear tires to the names of fallen heroes prominently printed on drivers’ windshields, the tradition of honoring those who gave it all makes the Coca-Cola 600 one of the most unique and special race weekends of the season.

Those who gave everything so that we have the freedom to watch racing, make questionable Tweets, and slide across the infield grass deserve more than just a thumbs up.