Coca-Cola 600: Harvick charges to win at Concord
Concord, N.C. • Kevin Harvick pulled away from Kasey Kahne on a restart with 11 laps left to win the Coca-Cola 600 for the second time in three seasons, a race stopped for nearly 30 minutes Sunday night when a TV camera support rope snapped.
Kahne led 156 laps and appeared to have the strongest machine in NASCAR's longest race. But Harvick took the low line following the last of 11 cautions and slowly pulled away.
Harvick won two years ago when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas 700 feet from the finish line.
Kahne finished second, Kurt Busch third and polesitter Denny Hamlin was fourth in his second full race since returning from injury.
"To win at Charlotte it is something we had to overcome in the past," Harvick said. "We won it on gas mileage last time. This time, we just went out and won it."
Harvick's win was almost as big a surprise as it was in 2011 when the crowd anticipated Earnhardt ending what was then a long, long victory drought.
Kahne had the strongest car, quickly moving back to the front each time he fell back. He had a large lead and lots of open track when the final caution flag came out with 16 laps remaining.
But Kahne remained on the track while Harvick pitted for two fresh tires. On the restart, Harvick quickly took control and Kahne couldn't catch up.
Ryan Newman was sixth followed by Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. and Marcos Ambrose.
Kyle Busch entered as a favorite after winning the Truck Series event last week and powering to a Nationwide victory Saturday. He was in the lead, though, when the nylon guide rope snapped and ran smack over it. Busch heard a "thunk" and knew he had problems. "It did have an effect of slowing my car down and I could feel it like, 'Whoa,' " he said. "That's weird, and I don't know that anybody has ever seen that."
Busch's team got the car back in winning shape and he continued near the front. However, his race ended for good on lap 257 when his engine failed.
"Catastrophic engine failure. Seems to be that time of year," said Busch, who has yet to win a Sprint Cup event at the track he calls his favorite.
Busch did praise NASCAR for halting the race and allowing teams to repair damage, which he said was unrelated to his engine problems.
About the same time Busch's engine failed, Earnhardt's race concluded with a similar problem. Earnhardt had smoke and oil pouring out on lap 257. Greg Biffle slipped into the wall, sending him to the garage, and Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil collided.
"We didn't have a really good car," Earnhardt said. "We know why. We can go back and feel like we can rebound from this real quick."
That started of series of incidents that ended things for some of NASCAR's most popular and successful drivers.
Defending series champion Brad Keselowski and Danica Patrick saw their chances end on lap 319 when they collided on a restart. It appeared that Patrick's boyfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., forced her car up the track and she clipped Keselowski, who began his day in the Penske pits at the Indianapolis 500.
Keselowski took the blame for the wreck and apologized to Patrick, in her second Coca-Cola 600.
Storylines Moving onward at Concord
R Kevin Harvick pulls away from Kasey Kahne on a late restart for the victory. • Kahne leads 156 laps and finishes second; Kurt Busch is third.