Monday, May 27, 2013

Harvick Wins the Coca-Cola 600

Written for CLNS Radio.

Kevin Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday night after using late pit strategy to get around Kasey Kahne on the final restart with 11 laps to go.

Stretter Lecka/Getty Images
Harvick only led 28 laps, while Kahne and Matt Kenseth had the dominant cars all night, combining to lead 268 of 400 laps.  It looked as if Kahne was going to run away with the victory late in the race, but a late caution  proved to be the deciding factor.  Harvick was able to get around Kahne on the final restart, and he led the final 11 laps on his way to victory.

Harvick is now a two-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600, but the last time he won was in 2011.  In that race, Harvick beat Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a fuel mileage race.  Harvick knew that this time was different.

"We just went out and won it this time," Harvick told FOX Sports.  "It was a good strategy call there, and Kahne stayed out and we were able to have a little fresher tires and get in front of him on the restart."

The race was marred by bizarre events throughout the night.  On lap 122, NASCAR threw the caution for debris.  It turned out that the debris was some cable from FOX's camera that ran along the frontstretch.  The cable had damaged multiple cars, including Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, and Marcos Ambrose.

The race was red-flagged while NASCAR cleaned up the cable from off the track.  The race was then red-flagged for another 15 minutes while teams were allowed to work on their cars if they were damaged by the cable.  

The cable also injured 10 fans who were in attendance.  7 fans were treated and released from the infield care center, while 3 fans were sent to a local hospital for further evaluation.  They were all later treated and released.

The race continued until lap 259, when Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew an engine, and Greg Biffle hit the wall after getting caught in Earnhardt's oil.  Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil also got together after sliding through Earnhardt's oil.

The next major caution came on lap 319 for a crash between Danica Patrick and Brad Keselowski.  Patrick and Keselowski were three-wide with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when he got loose in the middle of the corner.  Stenhouse got into Patrick, and she and Keselowski made hard contact with the outside wall.

The race was red-flagged again on lap 326 after a big crash that started when Mark Martin and Aric Almirola got together going through the trioval.  Martin turned Almirola into Jeff Gordon, and they both made hard contact with the outside wall.  Stenhouse and Bobby Labonte also spun through the corner.

The final caution came out with 16 laps to go, and everyone pitted except for Kahne.  When the race restarted, Kahne was no match for Harvick's fresher right-side tires.  Harvick ran away from the field, while Kahne had to hold off a tough challenge from Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Kasey Kahne
3. Kurt Busch
4. Denny Hamlin
5. Joey Logano
6. Ryan Newman
7. Tony Stewart
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Martin Truex Jr.
10. Marcos Ambrose
11. Carl Edwards
12. Jeff Burton
13. Paul Menard
14. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
15. Matt Kenseth
16. Trevor Bayne
17. Regan Smith
18. Juan Pablo Montoya
19. Jamie McMurray
20. David Gilliland
21. David Reutimann
22. Jimmie Johnson
23. Casey Mears
24. Bobby Labonte
25. David Ragan
26. Josh Wise
27. Timmy Hill
28. J.J. Yeley
29. Danica Patrick
30. Dave Blaney
31. Greg Biffle
32. David Stremme
33. Aric Almirola
34. Mark Martin
35. Jeff Gordon
36. Brad Keselowski
37. Landon Cassill
38. Kyle Busch
39. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
40. Travis Kvapil
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Michael McDowell
43. Scott Speed

Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the Monster Mile, Dover International Speedway.  The FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks can be seen at 1:00 p.m. ET, only on FOX.

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