When crashes, engine failures and cables clear, Harvick claims 2nd Coke 600
The Scoop: NASCAR's longest race is 600 miles for a reason. A great deal of the night's carnage took place in those last 100 laps, as several wrecks on restarts took out lead lap cars. Kasey Kahne stayed in front of that mess to lead most laps in the race (161). Crew chief Kenny Francis kept Kahne out on the last caution and the rest of the field behind him pitted for at least two fresh tires, leaving the No. 5 a sitting duck. Kevin Harvick passed Kahne on those two fresh feel goods and held off last year's Coca-Cola 600 winner to claim his 2nd 600 win in three years. Kurt Busch led eight laps and finished 3rd, but very well could have won. Busch's No. 78 lost power during a lap 327 red flag while he was the leader. A wrecker pushed him to pits for the Furniture Row team to change his battery. Kurt's brother Kyle was the class of the field early in the event, leading 65 laps. A support cable for FOX's suspended camera on the front straightaway fell and damaged Busch's and several others' cars. NASCAR red flagged the race and allowed those teams to fix the damage. The fallen nylon cord also injured 10 fans, three of whom crews transported to the hospital for evaluation. Busch's No. 18 replaced the M&M's Toyota's right-front fender and kept the lead, but a failed motor sunk the team to 38th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost his engine at the same time, placing 39th. Oil from Earnhardt Jr.'s engine caused Greg Biffle, Travis Kvapil, and Dave Blaney to crash. Matt Kenseth seemed to be the driver to beat after Busch, but miscommunication between he and crew chief Jason Ratcliff left him out on the track and off sequence when other leaders pitted. That eventually lost them track position and put them in middle of Jimmie Johnson's late race spin. They finished two laps down and damaged in 15th. Many other big names also had problems in the race, including Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, Mark Martin, and Brad Keselowski, whose crash ended a streak of 47 races running at the finish.
140 Characters or Less: Harvick closes 2nd Coke 600 in Bud car. Kahne loses another race late. Busch bros. snake bit. New meaning for cable's broke. Pray 4 troops.
Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Kasey Kahne - Kahne did everything right as a driver and was poised to win his 2nd-straight and 4th-career Coca-Cola 600. Being the leader on a late caution where tires matter some, but aren't mandatory, leaves you a sitting duck. If Kahne had pitted, some of those lead lap cars would have stayed out and he would have finished even worse.
North Korean Missile Dud: Brad Keselowski - He barely cracked the top 20 the whole race, after being quite fast at Charlotte in October. He got wrecked and finished 36th. His team is in free for all in the standings, having fallen to 10th after being as high as 2nd. With zero wins and a season a third of the way done, the 2012 champ has to be sweating Chase chances just a bit.
Never Fear, Underdogs Are Here: Stewart-Haas Racing - The performance of Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick has caused the NASCAR media to throw dirt on SHR. But the team turned the corner at Charlotte, with Stewart clawing his way to finish 7th, Ryan Newman 6th, and Patrick drove from the back to 21st, before her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. caused her to wreck. SHR is a big team, but they were not expected to run as well as they did at Charlotte.
You Can Come Back, But You Can't Stay Here: Joey Logano - His remarkable Charlotte stats continue. This didn't look likely when he started 31st and was 27th well into the race. But he drove his way to the front and finished 5th. He has six top 10s in nine career Cup starts at CMS.
Wheel of Misfortune: Anyone named "Busch" - Both could have won the All-Star AND the 600, neither did. Kurt's exchanges on the No. 78 team radio after his car lost power were worth hearing, for sure.
Head-Scratcher Crown: NASCAR and FOX - First, just how did that cable break? FOX will investigate. FOX was also late in acknowledging that fans were injured by the cable. Word of injured fans buzzed around Twitter for a while before the network acknowledged it. And NASCAR certainly was benevolent to let teams fix their cars during that red flag, but that negates years of a different application of the rule in the same conditions. For those that argue the damage was far beyond the teams' control, they're right. But Trevor Bayne had no control over the trash on his grille that pitted him under green early in the race. Jeff Gordon had no control over the Martinsville track surface coming apart and damaging his car in 2004 - NASCAR did not let him fix the car then. A big rub on the sport is the wishy-washiness of the rules (take the random debris cautions that did and didn't fall at certain times). Sunday was a prime example of that.
Ghost Driver: Jamie McMurray - He drove his way into the All-Star Race last week and finished solidly in the top 10. But his No. 1 Chevy didn't make much noise in the Coca-Cola 600 (though he ran in the back of the top 10 for a while) and FOX didn't cover which wreck or problem put him four laps down and 19th at the race's end. McMurray is a two-time Charlotte winner, by the way.
Georgia On My Mind: David Ragan started 35th and ran there until contenders started falling by the way side. He finished 25th, but six laps down. In the Nationwide race, Kyle Busch killed the whole field and won. Georgia drivers finished poorly in that race: Kyle Fowler was several laps down with Go Green Racing, Reed Sorenson had brake problems in his return to the No. 40 for TMG, and John Wes Townley wrecked.