Harvick has perfect timing to take the 600 victory in Charlotte

The final battle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ Coca-Cola 600 marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway came down to wire between Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne. Kurt Busch was third.

Kevin Harvick got by the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne, and drove his No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on to the win on Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kahne wound up finishing second, and Kurt Busch overcame a battery issue in the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet to finish third.

"We won it on fuel mileage last time," Harvick said. "We just went out and won it this time."

When the yellow flag waved for the 11th and final time in the 400-lap race, Kahne was shown as the leader. He stayed out during the caution, thinking at least a few of the other front runners would do the same. They didn't, though, as Kahne was the only one on the lead lap who didn't head down pit road for at least two new tires.

Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

"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.

The Joe Gibbs Racing trio of Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Toyota, Kyle Busch in the No. 18 and Denny Hamlin in the No. 11, along with Kahne, dominated much of the race, often occupying the first four positions. Kyle Busch's race was ended by a blown engine on lap 259.

Kenseth continued to run up front after Kyle Busch's retirement from the race, but as Kahne would do later in the race, Kenseth stayed out while everyone else pitted under caution. Kenseth stayed out during the caution that came out on lap 259, but unlike Kahne, 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.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

The yellow flag waved 11 times throughout the 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 of the race 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 and the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Marcos Ambrose, 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 the No. 53 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Aric Almirola, the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Mark Martin, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, the No. JTG-Daugherty Racing Toyota of Bobby Labonte, the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and the No. 13 Germain Racing Ford of Casey Mears.

When the race went from red back to yellow, Kurt Busch's car was without power, and as a result, he had to get to pit road for a battery change. He was, however, able to remain on the lead lap.

Kurt Busch, Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
Kurt Busch, Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

"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."

The No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson, which ran near the front early in the race, was also involved in a late-race caution. Johnson spun out with 68 laps to go to bring out the 10th caution of the race. 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. The No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman, the No. 14 SHR Chevrolet of Tony Stewart, the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer, the No. 56 MWR Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., and Ambrose.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Race reports
Tags chevrolet, ford, toyota, busch, charlotte, harvick, nascar sprint cup, childress, kahne, rcr, 600

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