Charlotte Motor Speedway
Stewart Salvages Top-20 in Coke 600 at Charlotte
Engine Woes Drop Office Depot/Mobil 1 Driver Out of Top-10 in Waning Laps
At four hours, 33 minutes and 16 seconds, the 52nd annual Coca-Cola 600 lived up to its billing as the longest race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), seemed poised to grab a solid top-10 finish in the marathon event, but engine woes dropped him to a 17th-place finish.
Despite radioing to crew chief Darian Grubb that something was amiss in his engine with less than 20 laps to go, Stewart found himself in ninth place just before a green-white-checkered finish would decide the race two laps past its scheduled 400-lap distance. But when the green flag waved, Stewart’s engine sputtered, either from whatever was happening inside the engine to the fact that Stewart’s fuel tank was nearly dry or a combination of the two. Either way, Stewart was unable to take off at full song, and when Jeff Burton spun off turn one in front of Stewart, the two-time Sprint Cup champion had to jump on the brakes to avoid hitting him, losing even more spots.
Stewart quickly gathered himself and made the final tour around the 1.5-mile oval to log his 10th top-20 finish in the 12 races run thus far in 2011.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished 31st after being collected in an accident on lap 303. His crew made repairs that allowed him to return to the race and gain five positions.
Kevin Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 to score his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Charlotte.
David Ragan finished .703 of a second behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-five. Marcos Ambrose, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Regan Smith, David Reutimann and Denny Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 14 caution periods for 64 laps, with 13 drivers failing to finish.
With round 12 of 36 complete, Stewart picked up one position to rise to ninth in the Sprint Cup championship point standings. He now has 356 points and is 89 markers behind series leader Carl Edwards. Newman dropped three spots to 10th in the standings. He has 353 points and is 92 points back of Edwards.