[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Kevin Harvick led the last 500 feet of the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway after leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel. Earnhardt Jr. just came up a little short of snapping his nearly three-year losing streak.
LAP-BY_LAP – The Coca Cola 600
GREEN FLAG as A.J. Allmendinger spins his tires before the start finish line, allowing Carl Edwards to pass him.
Lap 3 Rickey Stenhouse Jr. scrapes the wall as he battles Jeff Gordon in the turn. Lap 7 Mike Skinner is in the wall in turn three. But incidents do not slow the race with a yellow. Lap 9 Skinner heads to the garage.
Lap 10 Edwards took the lead from pole setter Keselowski on lap 7 into 8. Lap 11 early movers on the track see Jamie McMurray as the biggest mover up 9 into 26th place. Edwards leads Keselowski by almost one second.
Lap 14 we also see Juan Pablo Montoya moving up to 22nd from his start of 29th. Lap 15 Dale Earnhardt Jr. is on the move rising 6 positions into 19th, and looking strong at the moment. Lap 17 the front runners of Edwards leads Keselowski by 1.5 seconds, 3rd place Allmendinger 2.1 seconds, 4th place Jeff Burton 3 seconds and 5th place Denny Hamlin by 3.7 seconds.
Lap 22 Matt Kenseth is up 6 to 13th from his start. Slipping back in the field is Stenhouse to 18th (down 9) after Earnhardt Jr. completes a pass on him for 17th. Lap 25 your top ten drivers are Edwards, Allmendinger, Keselowski, Burton, Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, David Reutimann, David Ragan, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.
Lap 33 as Edwards continues his lead over 2nd place Allmendinger by 2 seconds, Earnhardt Jr. is now the biggest movers into 14th place (up 11 from the start) and closes in on Ryan Newman for 13th. Lap 37 drivers that have started and park look to be Skinner, J.J. Yeley, David Stremme and Joe Nemechek. An update sees Yeley back in the race.
Lap 42 pit stops begin as Jamie McMurray comes in for his service. That is followed up by Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., David Reutimann. Lap 43 twelve more drivers head into pit road. Greg Biffle is nailed for speeding.
Lap 46 3 of the 4 Hendrick drivers are in for stops, Martin pitted a lap earlier. Lap 49 stops are complete with Allmendinger leading the race.
Lap 50 your top twenty drivers are Allmendinger, Edwards, Kenseth, Hamlin, Keselowski, Johnson, Burton, Reutimann, Ragan, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Truex Jr., Montoya and Newman.
Lap 52 Edwards regains the lead.
Lap 57 add Michael McDowell to the garage list. We also hear the Kenseth is reporting a vibration in the car. On the lap down list we have Robby Gordon down two laps along with Dave Blaney. One lap down we see Mike Bliss, Landon Cassill, David Starr, Travis Kvapil, Casey Mears, Greg Biffle and Brian Vickers.
Biffle’s speeding ticket put him down a lap. Biffle is also suffering from a cool box (That keeps him cool) that is breaking down which could present an issue with heat and breathing in carbon monoxide from the engine, we’ll keep you updated.
Lap 65 in danger of falling a lap down we may see Joey Logano, Regan Smith, Bobby Labonte, Tony Stewart and Mark Martin over the next few laps.
Lap 67 Earnhardt Jr. has moved into 8th place and continues his charge forward. Lap 68 Edwards leads Allmendinger by 3.9 seconds and 3rd place Hamlin by 4.5 seconds. It looks like Allmendinger is slipping back where Hamlin may pass him shortly.
YELLOW FLAG lap 74 for debris. Logano should be the lucky dog. The first five to the track are Burton, Edwards, Hamlin, Kenseth and Johnson. Biffle’s team works on the cool box. Labonte is busted for speeding and will start in the back of the field.
GREEN FLAG lap 80 as Burton jumps in front followed by Hamlin and Edwards. Three wide between Kahne, Regan and Menard for 12th in turn four. Lap 82 battle for 6th between Allmendinger and Keselowski where Allmendinger.
Lap 83 Hamlin took the lead a lap ago then the next lap Johnson takes 2nd from him. Lap 84 Burton took two tires on the last stop and he is paying the price falling to 6th. Kenseth is 3rd, Edwards 4th, Allmendinger 5th.
Lap 88 Johnson closes in on Hamlin for the lead as Burton slides back to 9th. Lap 92 Earnhardt Jr. moves into 5th to battle Allmendinger for a minute or two and holds the pass. Lap 94 battle for 10th between McMurray and Jeff Gordon. Gordon hangs onto it. Lap 95 27 drivers remain on the lead lap with Logano on the tail end. Robby Gordon brought his car to the garage about 10 laps ago.
YELLOW FLAG lap 98 for Labonte solo spinning in turn four. Biffle is the lucky dog. We see a replay where Logano missed Labonte by inches. Labonte will be held a lap on pit road as he was trying to beat out the pace car and speeding. Out of pit road we see a few teams with two tire stops which brings Ragan into the lead for the first time today followed by Reutimann and Montoya. Hamlin and Kenseth took 4 tires. Kahne is busted for speeding.
The top twenty drivers are Ragan, Reutimann, Montoya, Hamlin, Kenseth, Marcos Ambrose, Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Allmendinger, Johnson, Burton, Menard, Harvick, McMurray, Bowyer, Gordon and Stewart.
So far we have seen 8 lead changes among 6 leaders as well as two cautions.
GREEN FLAG lap 104 as Ragan pulls away from Kenseth by a half second. Lap 107 Kenseth has reeled in Ragan for the lead. While Kenseth and his four tires power to the lead, the four tires of Earnhardt Jr. are not helping him as he drops back to 18th.
Lap 115 a bit of action between Ambrose, Reutimann and Kyle Busch for 8th place and three wide for a second or two. Ambrose shot out like a rocket from the three to get out of a bad spot. Lap 118 Kenseth runs 2.4 seconds in front of Hamlin and 3.2 seconds in front of 3rd place Edwards.
Lap 129 Kenseth is now 4 seconds in front of Hamlin. Lap 138 at this point of the race Montoya is the biggest mover from the start of the race 29th and is currently 8th (Up 21). Lap 140 we hear that Hamlin may have yet another engine failure coming on.
Lap 145 pit stops are on again. Lap 149 stops for the lead lap drivers are complete. Kenseth is back in the lead with a 7.7 second gap in front of Edwards. Hamlin continues to be 3rd and 10 seconds back followed by Ambrose 4th 11.4 seconds back, 5th place Ragan is 13.7 seconds behind.
Keselowski is 6th, Kurt Busch, Johnson, Kyle Busch and McMurray round out the top ten. McMurray is 16.6 seconds back. 11th through 20th we see Montoya, Allmendinger, Menard, Burton, Harvick, Biffle, Reutimann, Stewart, Earnhardt Jr. and Martin who is 26 seconds back.
Lap 156 twenty five drivers remain on the lead lap so you can add Stenhouse Jr., David Gilliland, Labonte, Vickers, Logano and Truex Jr. to the lap down list. Lap 160 Kurt Busch had reported a vibration from his car and heads to pit road to get it fixed and loses a lap and a half.
Lap 168 Edwards has closed the gap to Kenseth to 5.9 seconds. Hamlin in third is 7.1 seconds back.
YELLOW FLAG lap 170 for a soda can from a fan not making the trash can. Smith is the lucky dog. Some teams try two tires again as Ambrose is the first out followed by McMurray, Montoya, Kenseth and Harvick.
GREEN FLAG lap 176 and a clean start for all the drivers. Heading into turn three McMurray tries the outside around Ambrose. Ambrose was way out of shape to drop one spot and gathers it back up. Lap 178 Kenseth is 2nd. Lap 179 heading out of turn two Menards is in the middle with Hamlin on the low side and Montoya on the high side for 4th.
YELLOW FLAG lap 181 for McMurray who blows his engine. Newman is the lucky dog. Biffle heads into a closed pit road so the team can work on the cool box. We hear this is the sixth engine failure for Earnhardt / Ganassi. There were a few issues on pit road, not with penalties, but cars. Bowyer was having issues with the front camber where the team has to do some major tweaking to the setup.
Jeff Gordon is having issues with his radio antenna where it is replaced. Biffle with his issues.
GREEN FLAG lap 188 as Kenseth and Hamlin have a slow motion start. We see in turn two Mears blow a rear tire from contact from Cassill out of turn two. Pieces fly off from the left rear of the car down the back stretch.
YELLOW FLAG lap 189 for the issue. Logano is the lucky dog.
GREEN FLAG lap 193. Lap 212 sorry gang had to get the door for the pizza guy. Lap 218 Kenseth is 2.6 seconds in front of Edwards and 3.3 to 3rd place Ambrose. Lap 220 Harvick is on pit road to kick off this round of stops. Lap 222 Keselowski, Allmendinger and Montoya are in. Menards is in followed by Ambrose on lap 223. We are seeing out of sequence stops as the field split up on the previous caution. Lap 224 Kenseth is in to give Hamlin the lead.
Lap 226 Earnhardt Jr. leads a lap. Smith’s has to go back to pit road for a missed lug nut. Lap 231 Stewart leads Kurt Busch who have not pitted yet, hoping for a yellow. Lap 232 Stewart heads into pit road, but it is too early, then…
YELLOW FLAG lap 233 for Mike Bliss stalling and Kurt Busch was the last guy on the lead lap who did not pit. Several others did make it back on the lead lap though. What is interesting is how the race order will shake out. Biffle is the lucky dog.
So we will see Ambrose, Kyle Busch leading the field back to green.
There are about 15 wave around drivers this time.
GREEN FLAG lap 238 as Ambrose is in front for a minute with Kyle Busch in tow in turn three.
YELLOW FLAG lap 240 as Menard solo spins in turn one in front of half the field. Vickers is in the back of Truex Jr. to send him into the apron. Gilliland is the lucky dog.
GREEN FLAG lap 245 as Ambrose and Kyle Busch try it again this time though Busch takes the lead for the first time in turn three. Lap 247 two rows of three wide racing between Montoya, Logano and Newman then behind them it was Jeff Gordon, Reutimann and Martin from 18th on back.
Lap 250 Earnhardt Jr. almost makes contact with Johnson as he was coming from behind to take over 5th place. The top twenty drivers are Kyle Busch, Ambrose, Ragan, Hamlin, Earnhardt Jr., Johnson, Stewart, Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Allmendinger, Edwards, Biffle, Bowyer, Harvick, Kahne, Burton, Montoya, Jeff Gordon and Reutimann.
Lap 255 Kyle Busch leads Ambrose by 1 second. NASCAR calls Menard to come to pit road to fix the damage the team attempted to fix a while back. Lap 263 Ragan closes in on Ambrose for second place, both are over a second behind Kyle Busch though.
Lap 267 we are about 10 to 12 laps from green flag stops. Lap 269 Earnhardt Jr. looks to be getting back in the groove as he closes in on Hamlin for 4th. Lap 273 Ambrose heads to pit road to kick off this round of stops.
Lap 276 Earnhardt Jr., Ragan and Smith are in. Lap 277 Kyle Busch heads in followed by Keselowski, Hamlin and Johnson. Lap 278 about ten drivers head in for stops. Edwards, Biffle, Harvick are just some this time.
YELLOW FLAG lap 282 for debris as we had 13 drivers left on the lead lap. Edwards will be the lucky dog. Four drivers of Jeff Gordon, Martin, Logano and Gilliland head into pit road for stops which leaves Kyle Busch as the leader along with Ambrose, Ragan, Kenseth, Hamlin, Johnson, Earnhardt Jr. and Montoya.
The drivers are followed by Gordon, Logano, Gilliland, Stenhouse Jr. and lucky dog Edwards. We have 13 wave around drivers of Biffle, Keselowski, Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Stewart and Harvick.
GREEN FLAG lap 286 as Ragan did not get a start which bunches everyone up behind him. Hamlin just about rails Ragan from behind followed up by Earnhardt putting the squeeze play on Hamlin to put him in the middle three wide. This is followed up by almost another accident of Gilliland and Martin as Martin slid up on the track then almost hit Stenhouse.
YELLOW FLAG lap 288 as Starr has a bit of help from behind by Kahne in turn four to hit the wall, after getting out of shape. Vickers is the lucky dog.
GREEN FLAG lap 292 where Kyle Busch has a great start, Kenseth has second then Ambrose followed by Earnhardt Jr.
YELLOW FLAG lap 294 as Smith and Cassill connects out of turn four to send Cassill across the Edwards bump in the tri-oval at speed then through the rest of the grass into the end of pit wall. Mears should be the lucky dog.
We see about half the leaders head in for stops. During the caution Hamlin heads to pit road and the hood goes up. The team replaces the carburetor in record time to see if the engine issue is fixed.
GREEN FLAG lap 300 (100 to go) as Kyle Busch with Kenseth in tow grab the front, and back to…
YELLOW FLAG lap 301 as Gilliland slides into Martin in turn one to slam both into the outside wall. Gilliland’s car then is sideways in front of Newman who clips the car and he is out to the garage. Both Martin’s and Gilliland’s car are glued together to the apron.
It takes the tow truck some effort to separate the two cars, but it happens.
Another split of leaders into pit road so we see Jeff Gordon as the leader followed by Kahne, Harvick, Allmendinger, Vickers, Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski, Montoya, Biffle, Ragan, Kurt Busch, Reutimann, Burton, Bowyer, Johnson, Stewart, Mears, Kenseth, Stenhouse Jr. and Kyle Bush.
So far we have seen 30 lead changes among 19 leaders and 11 cautions so far. 25 drivers are on the lead lap.
GREEN FLAG lap 311 as first time leader Jeff Gordon gets the show going. Logano taps the outside wall of turn one. Lap 313 Stenhouse tags the outside turn four wall, which by the count is the third time for him tonight.
Lap 315 (85 to go) Gordon leads Kahne by a half second. We hear that Hamlin’s engine is running better since the change.
YELLOW FLAG lap 319 for Kyle Busch spinning out of turn four, into the tri-oval and missing the Edwards bump with miraculously not breaking off the front splitter. Big time luck for him. Gordon and Allmendinger head to pit road and 10th on back head in as well.
This leaves Kahne as the leader and Harvick to bring the field racing into turn one.
GREEN FLAG and 79 to go, even start. Heading into turn three Kahne slides in front of Harvick for the lead. Just behind them Earnhardt Jr. is almost the chrome horn for Biffle, but they settle it out where Earnhardt has third.
77 to go as there was some four wide action around Edwards around 20th. 74 to go Hamlin up to 13th. 73 to go as its three wide between Edwards, Kyle Busch and Stenhouse Jr. for 19th.
72 to go Biffle under Earnhardt Jr. to take 3rd. 70 to go Kahne is 1.6 seconds in front of Biffle who passes Harvick with ease. 69 to go Earnhardt Jr. closes in on Harvick for 3rd.
65 to go as Earnhardt runs in Harvick’s treads. Let’s give Kurt Busch a shout out as he runs 8th in front of Johnson. 64 to go Earnhardt has third.
62 to go as Ambrose is on pit road and too early, something must have been off. Kahne should need to come in soon as he has been out for a long time. 60 to go Kenseth under Johnson to take 9th. Kahne is about to pit in four laps. Some teams will be heading in about 7 to 10 laps to go.
YELLOW FLAG with 58 to go as Kyle Busch picks up damage this time as he headed out to the outside wall, bounced off of it to the apron. Ambrose dodged a bullet and will be the lucky dog.
Everyone heads in to pit road. Trouble for Johnson as the adjustment wrench did not make it out of his car and he will have to come back for that. Back to the track is Mears, Jeff Gordon, Biffle, Ragan, Keselowski, Earnhardt Jr., Kahne, Harvick, Kenseth, Bowyer, Hamlin, Kurt Busch, Burton, Vickers, Edwards, Allmendinger, Stenhouse Jr., Logano, Reutimann and Montoya.
GREEN FLAG with 52 to go as Gordon and Biffle bring the field up to speed. Keselowski is out of shape with Earnhardt Jr.’s help to take 5th. 49 to go Earnhardt Jr. under Kahne for 4th place. Kahne runs the high side while Jr. runs the apron. 48 to go Kahne holds him off for the moment.
47 to go Kahne works on Ragan for 3rd place. Ragan is not good on the outside for the moment and Earnhardt Jr. keeps the pressure on for the spot. 45 to go Biffle is 1.5 seconds in front of Kahne who passed Gordon.
43 to go Hamlin closes in on Earnhardt Jr. for 5th. 42 Ragan works on Gordon for 3rd. Kyle Busch is back on track. 41 to go as Earnhardt takes 4th from Gordon. Kyle Busch heads back to the garage. 39 to go Hamlin and Kenseth pass Gordon for 5th and 6th.
36 to go we see Earnhardt Jr. working on Ragan for 3rd. 32 to go Kahne is closing in on Biffle as they are 2 seconds in front of the field. 31 to go in the back of the leaders Stewart works on Montoya for 19th. 29 to go Kurt Busch is on Bowyers tail for 11th.
25 to go and the top ten is Biffle, Kahne, Ragan, Earnhardt Jr., Hamlin, Kenseth, Gordon, Keselowski, Harvick and Burton.
23 to go Earnhardt takes 3rd from Ragan as they passed traffic. 22 to go it looks like Earnhardt is closing the gap to Kahne for second. Many of the teams are worried about fuel, Earnhardt’s tells him to drive it away.
18 to go as Kenseth passes Ragan for 4th. Earnhardt Jr. closes in on Kahne to 1 second. And 1.5 seconds to Biffle. 16 to go as Kurt Busch continues his race against Bowyer.
15 to go Kahne is working to take the lead from Biffle. 14 to go Earnhardt is 1.2 seconds back from Biffle.
11 to go Earnhardt has gained a little, but not much, Biffle holds off Kahne for a few car lengths.
9 to go Kahne to the high side while Biffle was slowed just a tick. Earnhardt a second back.
7 to go Kenseth is heading to pit road for a splash. This could be trouble for Biffle. Kahne we are not sure of.
6 to go as Kahne looked to the outside.
YELLOW FLAG 5 to go as Johnson blows up. This could be big trouble. Everyone is shutting off their cars to save fuel. This is going to be a mileage deal, will they make it??
Under the caution Biffle heads to pit road which leaves Kahne versus Earnhardt Jr. Team Childress helps each other out as Menard pushes Burton who pushes Harvick to save fuel. Nothing against the rules as it is not the last lap of the race.
GREEN FLAG and a green-white-checkered finish. Big trouble on the restart as Kahne runs out of fuel. Keselowski and Burton hit the back of Kahne, Edwards hits Burton offset to send him to the apron. Allmendingeri picks up damage from trying to avoid the wreck.
This sparks off the driver to go any and every direction. Stewart is involved along with the cars all over but keeps from hitting Burton. The track clears out and is not blocked. Keselowski is on the back stretch with his car smoking and torn up.
No caution on the track as Earnhardt leads the field behind. Coming out of turn four to the…
WHITE FLAG and Hamlin runs about five car lengths behind Earnhardt Jr. Into turns one and two, it looks like Earnhardt will grab another fuel mileage win.
Out of turn two things look good and Hamlin is no threat but may get second.
Heading into turn three, trouble for Earnhardt Jr. as he is slowing and is out of fuel. Hamlin is out of fuel too. Can Earnhardt make it to the start finish line coasting.
Turn four at the exit Harvick comes out of nowhere and 500 feet to go Earnhardt cannot do anything but watch Harvick cruise on by to take..
CHECKERED FLAGS and his first win at Charlotte. Earnhardt is on the bottom coasting to the line but is passed by Ragan, Logano, Kurt Busch, Allmendinger and Ambrose to leave Earnhardt to settle for a 7th place finish.
The rest of the top ten was Smith, Reutimann and Hamlin.
This was a heck of a race. It lasted for four and a half hours. We saw 38 lead changes among 21 leaders and 11 cautions fell on the track.
Harvick was the biggest mover on the track with a leap of 27 positions from the start of the race of 28th.
Ragan had his best NASCAR finish of second.