From surviving two red flags, one for a bizarre camera cable snap that injured cars on the track as well as some fans in the stands, to the second red flag for a Talladega-style pile up, Kevin Harvick survived it all to live up to his moniker as the ‘Closer’, going to Victory Lane for the second time this season.
“Well first off, I want to say I hope everybody is okay from that cable,” the driver of the No. 29 RCR Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet said. “That was quite a weird incident there.”
“Second, I want to just say thank you to all the guys at Richard Childress Racing,” Harvick continued. “To win at Charlotte is something that we had to overcome for a long time.”
Harvick credited his victory to some old fashioned pit road tire strategy, a great restart against Kasey Kahne, and getting out in front in clean air.
“Clean air was really big,” Harvick said. “Obviously with him (Kahne) being on old tires, we knew that the restart was going to be important to be able to get that clear track.”
“And it paid off.”
One of the most disappointed drivers no doubt was Kasey Kahne, who after battling flu-like symptoms prior to the race and having such a strong car, still could not hold off Harvick for the win. Instead the driver of the No. 5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet for Rick Hendrick Motorsports finished second yet again.
“Yeah, we ran second to Matt (Kenseth) at Vegas, second to Matt (Kenseth) again at Kansas and now second to Kevin (Harvick) here,” Kahne said. “We were the fastest car in all three of those.”
“We just didn’t win any of them,” Kahne continued. “I feel good about where we are and the team is doing an awesome job.”
“We just need to finish it off.”
There is no doubt that the third place finisher Kurt Busch felt a real kinship with the warriors that he supports through the Armed Forces Foundation. The driver of the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing/Sealy Chevrolet battled the cable hitting the car incident, a dead battery and keeping track position throughout the night to score the top-five finish.
“I’m still shell shocked,” Busch said. “We picked up the lead and then the battery went dead.”
“I don’t know what to think of that,” Busch continued. “We battled back.”
“The guys changed it as fast as they could and we got third,” Busch said. “We had a good car.”
“You’ve got to be perfect to win these things and I was close.”
While Chevrolet dominated the first three positions, Denny Hamlin in his No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota and Joey Logano in his No. 22 Pennzoil Shell Ford, rounded out the remainder of the top five in the finishing order for the 54th annual Coca Cola 600.
“We need solid runs like this,” Hamlin said as he continues to recover from his back injury. “I feel good.”
“We didn’t have a winning car, but we had a fourth to sixth-place car and that’s where we ended up.”
While Hamlin was feeling good, fifth place finisher Logano was tired but pleased, especially with his team and crew.
“It was a long race,” Logano said. “Starting from 31st with the Shell/Pennzoil Ford, we had our work cut out for us, especially at a track that is so hard to pass.”
“That was a long race, a really long race, but I think my guys did an awesome job coming from 31st up to fifth,” Logano continued. “I’m super proud of them.”
The weirdest part of the race, and for many the scariest, was the network broadcast camera cable breaking, strewing wiring on the track and into the stands. The most damaged car on the track was the No. 18 M&M Red-White-Blue M-Prove America Toyota of Kyle Busch.
AT least ten fans were also injured in the stands, seven treated and released at the track and three sent to hospitals for further evaluation and treatment as needed.
“I didn’t see anything,” Busch said. “I just heard a big thunk on the right-front tire and thought the tire blew out.”
“That’s how hard it felt,” Busch continued. “I felt it like, ‘Whoa’, that’s weird.”
“Maybe now we can get rid of that thing.”
The second major incident occurred later in the race but also resulted in a red flag. Drivers affected in the Talladega-like wreck included Jeff Gordon, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Bobby Labonte.
“I got under Mark (Martin) and I was down next to the grass and he clipped me in the right rear corner panel,” Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 US Air Force Ford, said. “It kind of stinks.”
“I got squeezed in there trying to run the thing three-wide,” Mark Martin, driver of the Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota, said. “And there wasn’t quite room there.”
“We were racing three-wide and that’s what’s going to happen,” Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, said. “We were going for the Lucky Dog and had to be real aggressive.”
“I hate we were back there,” Gordon continued. “We had an awesome Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.”
Almirola, Martin and Gordon finished 33rd, 34th and 35th respectively.
In spite of a battery issue, a spin late in the race, and a 22nd place finish, five-time champ Jimmie Johnson maintained his points lead, in fact 32 points ahead of Carl Edwards.
“Yeah, we were like a fifth place car,” Johnson said. “But then we got pulled around in Turns 3 and 4 and spun.”
“We did have some issues with the charging system of the car with batteries dying and things like that throughout the race, which added more excitement for us,” Johnson continued. “It was a long night with a lot of issues.”
“All that did some damage to the car and that really affected our finish from that point.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will leave home and head next to compete at the Monster Mile in Delaware.