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Looking back at the Coca-Cola 600

By Jim Utter


Kevin Harvick used an appropriate phrase in describing his win in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, saying he and his team ‘survived.’ With 11 cautions, three red-flags (none for weather) and nylon rope from a Fox Network camera falling on the track and fans in the grandstands, there probably is no better explanation. Sunday’s race was yet another of a long-line of unusual events that have taken place during races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, which have included a pedestrian bridge falling, a sinkhole and tires going into the grandstands during an IndyCar event. Kudos to NASCAR to being able to find a workable solution when confronted with a difficult situation with part of a Fox Network camera doing damage to several cars on Lap 122. NASCAR allowed each team 15 minutes in their pit stalls to work on their cars, giving everyone amble time to make the necessary repairs. The race continued and some of those involved ended up getting into other incidents but no one seemed any worse for wear from the camera rope problem. There is no question the Indianapolis 500 is surrounded with much pageantry and longstanding traditions, but listening to Taps and the bagpipes playing ‘Amazing Grace” each Memorial Day weekend at Charlotte is just as special.


Improvement for SHR: Stewart-Haas Racing has had its share of problems this season but was able to place two of its three cars in the Top 10 Sunday night with Ryan Newman finishing sixth and Tony Stewart seventh. Danica Patrick was involved in a wreck and ended up 29th.

“We took two tires under (the last) caution and couldn't quite get back to where we were,” Newman said. “That is a great come back after going a lap down early, and considering where we were one week ago here for the All-Star Race.”

Greg Zipadelli’s SHR’s competition director, said the organization saw “big improvements” this weekend at Charlotte.

Hamlin continues progress: Denny Hamlin, who started from the pole, finished fourth – his second consecutive top-five finish since returning from a back injury.

After missing four races, Hamlin is now 24th in points. He’s gained seven spots in the past two races and needs to reach the Top 20 to have a shot at one of two wild card entries in the Chase.

“We just hung around the top-five, but the pit crew did an awesome job,” Hamlin said. “Luckily, we got the pole and really made up some positions on pit road, so hats off to the pit crew.”

Ambrose rallies back: Marcos Ambrose at one point had part of the Fox Network camera nylon rope trailing from the rear of his car and was several laps down. NASCAR got his laps back when it allowed all teams to fix their cars after the incident and return to where they were in the running order.

Even with all that, Ambrose still wound up 10th.

Asked what he thought when the nylon rope hit his car, Ambrose said: “It was like getting attacked by a giant squid. It was just flapping and I didn’t know what was going on.”

5 key moments

1 . A nylon rope, part of a Fox Network television camera, falls on the track and in the Turn 4 grandstands on Lap 122 forcing over a half-hour delay in the race. Ten fans were treated for injuries.

2 . Kyle Busch survives a run-in with the nylon rope, which tore into his car, but finally exited the race after 257 laps when his engine blew up.

3. After a cycle of green-flag pit stops, Kasey Kahne emerges the leader on Lap 382 and appears ready to cap off a dominant run with a victory.

4. Debris on the frontstretch brings out a caution on Lap 386. Khane elects to remain on the track, hoping others would as well. Instead every other car pit for fresh tires, with Kevin Harvick the first to exit pit road.

5. With two fresher tires, Harvick needs less than a lap to pass Kahne on the restart on Lap 390 and leads the final 11 laps before claiming his second 600 victory.

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