Harvick wins Coca-Cola 600
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Kasey Kahne led the most laps - 161 -- but his late-race gamble backfired as Kevin Harvick grabbed the lead with 11 laps to go and pulled away to 1.7-second win in the wild and strange Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Kahne had a commanding lead when the yellow flag was waved for the 11th time with 16 laps to go.
Kahne elected not to pit. Harvick and the rest of the lead-lap cars all pitted for tires.
On the restart with 11 laps remaining, Harvick passed Kahne and never looked back to score his second win of the season and his second 600.
Kahne held off Kurt Busch for second with Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano completing the top five.
The second five consisted of Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr., and Marcos Ambrose.
The eighth caution flag of the night occurred when Brad Keselowski tangled with Danica Patrick as they raced three wide with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., who is dating Patrick. Keselowski took the blame for the accident saying "I cut down on Danica."
On the restart with 77 laps to go, Aric Almirola clipped Mark Martin as they raced three wide with Jeff Gordon on the outside. That triggered a huge crash that forced NASCAR to red flag the race a third time. Almirola, Martin, Gordon, Stenhouse and Bobby Labonte were all involved in this incident.
While the cars were stopped as track officials cleared up the track, leader Kurt Busch told his crew that "he had no power." But NASCAR allows the cars to be pushed if they do not start after a red flag and Busch was able to get his car re-fired. But he was forced to come to pit road turning the lead over to Kevin Harvick.
During the fifth yellow flag, leader Matt Kenseth did not pit. But all of the other lead-lap cars did, leaving Kenseth in a precarious position. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff took the blame for the miscue when he told his driver, "I didn't think everyone was going to pit. My fault."
Kahne took advantage of his new tires to sail by Kenseth on lap 275 and quickly pulled away from his Toyota rival as the race entered its final 100 laps.
Kenseth was forced to pit for fuel and tires on lap 301 to fall a lap down. He had led 112 laps to this point of the race.
Two laps after Kenseth pitted, the yellow flag came out for debris in turn two. He took the wave-around to get back on the lead lap.
After the second red flag of the evening, Kyle Busch showed no ill effects of being hit by a snapped cable line as he jumped out front on the restart on lap 131 and led until the next pit stop. But Kenseth was quicker on pit road, enabling him to take the lead, and Kenseth was the leader at the halfway point of the 400-lap race.
Busch's night ended on lap 257 when he suddenly slowed with a faltering engine. A lap later, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. suffered engine failure with Greg Biffle hitting the oil from Earnhardt's engine and bouncing hard off the wall. Moments later, Travis Kvapil and Dave Blaney tangled after hitting the wall.
During this yellow flag, Busch climbed out of his car and walked slowly to his hauler after leading twice for 65 laps.
The race was red-flagged on lap 125 when the fiber-cable line attached to Fox's overhead cable camera snapped. The cable line hit several cars including leader Kyle Busch.
NASCAR ordered the cars to come to pit road while its officials cleared the cable lines that had landed on the track. During this 10-minute, 40-second red flag, Busch climbed out of his car and inspected the damage to his right front fender and tire.
"Something fell apart and, of course, it fell on us," Kyle Busch told crew chief Dave Rogers. The cable literally sliced the right side of the car behind the right-front wheel.
NASCAR quickly decided to freeze the field for 15 minutes to allow Busch and several other cars to make repairs to their cars due to this "unique situation." Normally, crews are not allowed to work on their cars during a red flag.
After the cable line hit Martin's car, it wrapped itself around the brake line of Marcos Ambrose's car, snapping it in two. Ambrose was allowed to fix the problem during the second red flag.
Tony Stewart wasn't sure if the cable had damaged his car, but he told his crew, "You oughta see the mark where it went across the windshield."
Kasey Kahne had dominated the race before the first red flag, leading 84 of the first 124 laps.
Speedway officials said 10 fans were injured when a "nylon rope" from the cable camera fell. Seven fans were treated for minor cuts and scrapes at the track care center and released. Three people were transported to an area hospital for further evaluation.
The track put out a statement from Fox Sports later in the race that said, "the camera system consists of three ropes - a drive rope which moves the camera back and forth and two guide ropes on either side. The drive rope failed near the turn one connection and fell to the track. The camera itself did not come down because the guide ropes acted as designed. A full investigation is planned and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely. Our immediate concern is with the injured fans."