Kevin Harvick got by Kasey Kahne and continued on his mission to prove that he’s no lame duck in his final season at Richard Childress racing by winning the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday. Kahne wound up second, and Kurt Busch overcame a battery issue to finish third.
“We won it on fuel mileage last time,” Harvick said. “We just went out and won it this time.”
Kahne wasd the race leader when the yellow flag waved for the 11th and final time with 16 laps to go in the 400-lap race. He stayed out, thinking at least a few of the other front runners would do the same. But they didn’t, and Kahne was the only one on the lead lap who didn’t head down pit road for at least two new tires.
“The whole field pitted, so we were in a tough spot,” Kahne said. “We raced all day, and thought we were in a good position.”
Harvick took two and got off pit road to restart alongside Kahne on the front row. As soon as the race returned to green, Harvick got out front and led the rest of the way.
“It was a good strategy call there,” Harvick said of taking two tires while Kahne stayed out.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, along with Kahne, dominated much of the race, often occupying the first four positions. But Busch’s race was ended by a blown engine on lap 259.
Kenseth continued to run up front after Busch’s retirement from the race, but Kenseth stayed out while everyone else pitted under caution. Kenseth stayed out during the caution that came out on lap 259, but unlike Kahne later in the race, was able to stay out front.
But as a result of staying out, Kenseth had to pit earlier than the rest of the race field. He headed down pit road for service under green with 100 laps to go, only to see the yellow flag wave three laps later, before the other front runners made their pit stops. Kenseth took the wave around and restarted behind the other lead lap cars. He was unable to make his way back to the front and wound up sustaining damage from a wreck that brought out a later caution. He wound up finishing the race in the 15th position.
The yellow flag waved 11 times throughout the 400-lap race, mostly in the last 100 laps. While there were only five cautions in the first 300 laps of the 400 that made up the race, a rash of five cautions laced the next 35 laps. The red flag even waved twice, with neither red flag being weather-related.
The first red flag came out following a lap 122 yellow flag when a fiber rope supporting one of FOX-TV’s overhead cameras snapped, causing damage to several cars, including Kyle Busch’s No. 18, Mark Martin’s No. 55 and the Marcos Ambrose’s No. 9, among others. Considering the odd circumstance, NASCAR gave teams 15 minutes during the red flag to repair their cars. Also 10 fans in the grandstands were injured by the rope. Seven of those were treated at the track, while three were transported to a local hospital.
The other red flag was the result of a multi-car wreck that, initially, brought out the caution with 75 laps to go and collected Aric Almirola, Martin, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Casey Mears.
When the race went from red back to yellow, Kurt Busch’s car was without power, and as a resut, he had to get to pit road for a battery change. He was, however, able to remain on the lead lap.
“Still shell-shocked,” Busch said after the race. “We picked up the lead, and the battery went dead. They changed it, and we finished third.”
Jimmie Johnson, who was among the frontrunners early in the race, was also involved in a late-race caution. Johnson sput with 68 laps to go to bring out the 10th caution. It was during that incident that Kenseth sustained damage.
By the end of the race, Hamlin was the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver remaining in the top-10. He finished fourth. Joey Logano rounded out the top-five.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip Racint teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., and Ambrose.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR