Harvick Wins Coke 600 As Jr. Runs Dry
Kevin Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, inheriting the lead when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas on the final turn Saturday night.
Kyle Busch spins through the frontstretch grass, damaging his No. 18 Toyota after leading earlier in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt Jr., who was seeking to end a 104-race winless streak, coasted to a seventh after running out of fuel on Lap 402 — two laps past the scheduled distance because of a green-white-checkered overtime finish.
"You drove a great race, man," No. 88 Chevrolet crew chief Steve Letarte told Earnhardt on the team radio. "We needed 500 more feet."
Radioed Earnhardt to his crew: "Yeah, be proud man. You all do good. I'm really happy to be with you guys. You all have made me a hell of a driver. We're going to get us one."
David Ragan finished second, followed by Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and A.J. Allmendinger
Marcos Ambrose, Earnhardt, Regan Smith, David Reutimann and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top 10.
The longest race on the NASCAR schedule began in relatively tame fashion with only one caution (for debris in Turn 1) during the first 99 laps.
But a spin by Bobby Labonte on Lap 100 begat a spate of caution flags that changed the complexion of a race in which more than half the field had fallen a lap down three-quarters of the way from the checkered flag.
The yellow flew 11 times in the next 250 laps, including three multicar accidents. The cautions allowed several cars to get laps back through the free pass and wave arounds and left more than 20 cars on the lead lap entering the final 100 miles of the only 600-mile event in Sprint Cup.
As a result, not many contenders were eliminated early aside from Jamie McMurray, whose star-crossed season continued on Lap 181 when the engine in his No. 1 Chevrolet expired while leading. After winning the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and the night race at Charlotte a year ago, McMurray still hasn't finished in the top five this year.
"The car ran really well all night and it ran really well on the restart," he said. "It wasn't hot. The oil temp wasn't hot. Something broke big in the motor.
"We've run really bad all year. So I would rather run well and have something happen. We had something completely different in our car this weekend. The engineering department worked really hard on Friday because we struggled really the first 10 races, and they just happened to hit on something on Friday. That gives us a lot of hope for the remainder of the season. … I was just excited to have a (contending) car again."