Kurt Busch made the best of his time at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch took the lead for the first time just 11 laps into the race and led a race-high 252 laps on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. The win comes on the heels of...
Kurt Busch made the best of his time at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch took the lead for the first time just 11 laps into the race and led a race-high 252 laps on his way to winning the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. The win comes on the heels of Busch's all-star race win here a week ago.
"It's unbelievable how much this is a team effort," said Busch, who needed a terrific pit stop during a late-race caution to hold the lead. "I get the spoiled job of driving an awesome Miller Lite Dodge like this was. This is just a great team and a great mood right now. Everybody just pulls the rope in the same direction."
Busch said that he had a terrific handling car at the start of the race in the daylight and it got better as the track got cooler into the night.
"The car was good in the day so I was scared all race long that we were going to dominate the first part and then lose it towards the end," said Busch, who became the seventh driver to win the all-star race and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same year. "(Jamie) McMurray kept us honest. When things go your way, things continue to click."
Car owners Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske spent most of Sunday battling it out on racetracks nearly 600 miles apart.
Earlier in the day, Ganassi became the first owner in motorsports history to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season when Dario Franchitti claimed the checkered flag at Indy. Penske pilot Helio Castroneves finished ninth after battling for the lead most of the day.
McMurray won the Daytona 500 in February and did his best to give his owner another Memorial Day weekend win.
"We had a great car," McMurray said. "It was disappointing but from where I was last year to the runs we've had this year - it's a really good time to be part of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing."
McMurray battled with Busch throughout the late stages of the race and was closing fast in the final 10 laps of the race. McMurray narrowed the lead to less than a second but couldn't get to Busch's rear bumper.
"Roger - this one's for you," Busch said in Victory Lane. "I thought about that Ganassi car behind us and he wasn't going to get by us."
Ganassi made his way from Indiana to Charlotte and got to the track midway through the Sprint Cup race.
"It was a great race - Jamie did a great job," Ganassi said. "You can't take anything away from him but my old buddy Penske beat me tonight."
Kyle Busch battled with his older brother for the lead in the second half of the race but slipped back to a third place finish. Jeff Burton confronted Busch with some harsh words on pit road after the race. Busch and Burton made contact on a late restart and Burton held Busch accountable after he got out of his race car.
"He said I didn't race him very nicely," Busch said. "He said I ran into him but I don't know what I could have done to make that work without touching him. We were three-side and I held it as tight as I could. This was an awesome night for this team. We were really off (early)."
Mark Martin started 11th but came on strong late in the race to grab a fourth place finish while David Reutimann started sixth and spent practically the entire race in the top five. He fittingly finished fifth.
Pole-sitter Ryan Newman led the first 11 laps before giving way to Busch. Newman finished ninth and moved up to 12th in the standings.
The race marked the half-way point to the Chase for the Championship cut-off and Kyle Busch closed the gap from leader Kevin Harvick to just 29 points. Harvick finished 11th.
Defending series champ Jimmie Johnson, a six-time winner here, had a difficult day. He nearly wrecked when his car was loose in the first half of the race and then crashed on lap 273 to end his race and bring out the fifth of eight cautions on the day.