Coca-Cola 600: Surprising, Not Surprising

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMay 25, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 25:  David Reutimann, driver of the #00 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 25, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Reutimann won the Coca-Cola 600 due to a rain out on lap 227.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Nearly 24 hours after the race was originally scheduled to begin, a winner was crowned for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Sure, it wasn't who anyone would have picked to win, and it may be a win by default, but in NASCAR a win is a win, and David Reutimann picked up his first career Sprint Cup victory.

Here are a few things surprising and not surprising from Sunday—I mean Monday's race.


Surprising: David Reutimann wins, inches back near Chase contention

Face it, this kid refuses to go away and continues to prove the naysayers (myself included) wrong.

He has become "The Franchise" of Michael Waltrip Racing, and is making the entire team more attractive to other drivers.

The win not only gives Waltrip his first victory as an owner, but makes Reutimann the sixth different driver to collect his first win in NASCAR's longest race of the season.

Let's just hope he doesn't pull a Casey Mears and not win again!

Reutimann currently sits just six points behind 12th-place Mark Martin.

Not Surprising: Brian Vickers had the car to beat

If the race had gone the distance, I believe it would have come down to Vickers and Kyle Busch battling it out for the checkered flag.

Busch had his car set up to run extremely well on the short runs (25-35 laps), while Vickers' No. 83 Toyota was lightning fast as other cars were falling off.

Vickers led 33 laps and has got to be the driver who has led the most laps in the Coca-Cola 600 without ever winning it.

If the race had gone green, another organization could have been celebrating its first trip to Victory Lane.

Surprising: NASCAR waited so long to call the race

The rains kept coming and the fans kept leaving, yet NASCAR put forth a valiant effort to make the Coca-Cola 600 longer than the Coca-Cola 340.5.

Sure, NASCAR could have taken the easy way out as soon as the rain fell and the race was past halfway and called it then.

But they spent countless amounts of jet fuel and personnel time to try and get the track ready for racing.

They've been known to call the races a little early—Daytona comes to mind—and they proved this time they were going to do everything possible to get the race in.

In the end, however, it simply didn't happen.


Not Surprising: Scott Speed inched back towards top 35

Speed brought his No. 82 Red Bull Toyota home in 18th place Monday evening, and moved back within 46 points of a guaranteed starting spot.

The No. 34 Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevy driven by Tony Raines limped home with a 39th-place finish and appears to be losing its grip on that golden spot.

If Speed can keep from missing another race, he could have his No. 82 Toyota back inside the top 35 in a week or two.


Surprising: Richard Childress Racing continues to struggle

The addition of another team usually is beneficial to the entire organization as a whole, but it appears to be detrimental to RCR.

All four of the RCR Chevys finished outside of the top 20, with Burton leading the way at 25th. Casey Mears (33rd) and Clint Bowyer (36th) both struggled all day, while Kevin Harvick (41st) had a tire issue early that kept him from competing.

Burton remains the only RCR driver in Chase contention at eighth, while previous front-runner Bowyer continues to slip further back in the points.

With the poor finish, Bowyer fell another four spots in the standings to 17th, now 109 points behind 12th-place Mark Martin.

Mears is 22nd in the points, while Harvick fell another two spots to 23rd. All three RCR teams made the Chase last year, but it appears it might be a one-man show with the No. 31 being the only team comfortable in Chase contention.

Not Surprising: Dale Earnhardt Jr. struggles...again

Team owner Rick Hendrick has got to make changes to the No. 88 team, and he needs to do it immediately to get this team back on track.

Excuse after excuse has been thrown around by media and workers at HMS as to why this team has struggled this year, but one thing is clear: changes need to be made.

Whether it's crew chief Tony Eury Jr., the fact that they are running old setups, or the idea that Earnhardt simply doesn't care about racing, I don't know, but something is amiss with the No. 88 AMP Energy team and it's obvious.

When three-of-four teams are winning races and competing weekly and the other is lagging behind, there's an obvious problem.


Up next, the boys head to Dover, where Kyle Busch looks to defend his race title. Coverage starts at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday as FOX ends its coverage of NASCAR for the season.