Jimmie Johnson wins the 2014 Coca Cola 600 and Amanda Vincent has the race recap.
Sunday night was Jimmie Johnson's night, starting from pole, he led a race-high 164 laps on his way to the Coke 600 victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was his first win of the 2014 season, but his seventh-career win at Charlotte, making him the all-time wins leader at the track. He also becomes the tenth different winner in just twelve races this year.
For Jimmie Johnson, this is his 67th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory and a record seventh at Charlotte. With Johnson's latest triumph, Hendrick Motorsports has won an astonishing 221 Cup races.
Kevin Harvick finished second in the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet after leading 100 laps, as the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Matt Kenseth fell to third in the closing laps after battling for the win with less than ten laps to go.
Johnson was in command early, running up front until Harvick took the lead on lap 76. Harvick then became a dominating force, maintaining his lead until the No. 2 Team Penske Ford of Brad Keselowski stayed out during a caution on lap 164. Brad held the top spot on the restart but Harvick eventually reclaimed the lead on lap 192.
Pit strategies began to vary with the cautions that followed. As a result, drivers including the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray led laps before Johnson and Kenseth took over first and second positions for a restart after a caution around lap 275.
Johnson was on his way down pit road when the yellow flag waved. He went ahead and made his stop and was able to remain in the lead lap. When everyone else pitted under caution, Johnson then stayed out to reassume the lead. Meanwhile, Kenseth got off pit road first to restart second.
For the remainder of the race, Johnson and Kenseth were the two main characters up front, with the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon spending a short tenure in control. Gordon had Regan Smith on standby after having to sit out the Saturday afternoon practice due to back spasms that plagued him all weekend. Smith's services weren't needed in the end, as Gordon got through the entire 600-mile distance.
"It (the back issue) was better than Saturday monring, and that's what I'm thankful for," Gordon said. "There was one time I got on my brakes in turn one and it triggered something."
Keselowski and the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards planned on a fuel-mileage strategy in the late stages of the race, staying out longer when the rest of the field underwent a cycle of green-flag stops around lap 330. Everyone who pitted would still have to make one more stop, but Keselowski and Edwards opted for a different strategy that would allow them to stay out until the end. Keselowski ended up having a loose wheel however and a caution for Alex Bowman botched Edwards' plans.
Gordon, Kenseth, Johnson and the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr. stayed out during the final caution to restart the race first through fourth. Edwards became the fifth place care, but with the freshest tires under him.
When the race resumed, Kenseth jumped out front and held on to the spot until Johnson caught him with ten laps to go. The two battled hard and as Johnson pushed his way past with nine laps remaining, Kenseth ran him all the way down the track in hopes that Johnson would back off.
Harvick had restarted 10th but after an incredible run up through the pack, he came home second as Kenseth fell to third.
"A loose wheel and we got behind and it took us all night to get back up front," Harvick said.
Edwards finished fourth and All-Star Race winner McMurray rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Brian Vickers, Gordon, the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch, and finally, Brad Keselowski.
There were eight cautions during the race, with the largest incident being a crash that collected five cars when Marcos Ambrose went spinning out of the fourth corner.
Kurt Busch's pursuit of 'The Double' was cut 200 miles short when his engine expired during the Coca Cola 600. He finished sixth in his Indianapolis 500 debut earlier today so it wasn't all bad. Kurt wasn't the only SHR car with issues either. Teammate Danica Patrick suffered a similar engine failure a few laps after Kurt exited the event.
Austin Dillon was the top ROTY contender in 16th place.