The Sprint Cup Series has been in Charlotte, North Carolina for the past two weeks now. Last week was the Sprint All-Star race that Kasey Kahne ended up winning, and this weekend was the Coca-Cola 600.
Kyle Busch started from the pole position with Kasey Kahne alongside in second. Busch took off on the start of the race and led the first 35 laps of the race until Brian Vickers took command.
Vickers would lead until lap 47, when Jimmie Johnson passed him for the top spot. Johnson would lead until the first round of green flag pit stops occurred around lap 50.
After the pit stops sequenced through, Johnson was back out in front of the field. Shortly after the pit stops were made, the first caution flag of the race flew on lap 57 for Robby Gordon bouncing off the wall in turn three.
The leaders would take advantage of the caution by coming down pit road for a splash of fuel. Johnson would end up as the first car off pit road and lead the field on the restart.
Shortly after the race restarted, Kurt Busch would show some muscle by taking the lead from Johnson on lap 67. Kurt would remain the leader until the second round of green flag stops occurred around lap 110. After the pit stops cycled through, Vickers was once again the leader.
Vickers' lead was short-lived though, as Kurt Busch took the lead back a couple of laps later. The race would stay green for awhile, with Vickers taking the lead back on lap 137. Vickers remained the leader until the caution flag flew on lap 161 for Kurt Busch pounding the wall off turn four due to a flat tire.
The leaders would all pit again, with Vickers coming out first again off pit road.
Vickers still led the race until lap 181, when Johnson passed him for the lead. A few laps later Vickers lost a tire in turn one, sending him hard into the wall and his tire straight into the hood of David Gilliland's car. The tire then rolled into the infield, causing no further injury.
Vickers had led 61 laps in the race before losing his tire. The leaders would all pit again, with Earnhardt, Jr. taking the lead for the first time in the race.
Earnhardt, Jr. would keep the lead until lap 206 when Kasey Kahne passed him for the leader's spot. Kahne would still be the leader when the sixth caution flag of the race waved for debris. The leaders all came down pit road, with Elliott Sadler coming out in the lead.
Sadler would lead for a good 15 laps before Earnhardt, Jr. passed him back for the lead. Earnhardt would continue to lead as the seventh caution flag of the race came out for JJ Yeley bouncing off the wall in turn two.
The leaders would all hit pit road again, with Ryan Newman coming out first. Newman's lead would be short-lived though, because he had missed his pit box and had to come around again to make his stop. This would give the lead back to Kyle Busch for the first time since the start of the race.
Kyle Busch continued to lead until Earnhardt, Jr. passed him with 141 laps remaining in the race. Unfortunately, the caution flag would wave on lap 296 due to Earnhardt cutting down a tire while leading in turn three.
Earnhardt would get back to pit road to get his damage repaired, and would continue the race, joining the field on the lead lap. The leaders would pit again, with Tony Stewart coming out as the leader for the first time in the race.
Stewart continued as the leader until Kahne passed him with 89 laps to go. The caution flag would wave shortly after for Patrick Carpentier's spin in turn two. The leaders would pit, with Johnson leading off pit road.
Johnson remained the leader of the race with just 54 laps to go. Johnson was then passed for the lead by Kyle Busch, and ended up blowing his engine just a few laps later. Johnson would end up finishing in the 38th position.
Kahne would then take the lead away from Kyle Busch with 39 laps to go. Kahne had run away from the field until he ran into lap traffic, allowing Tony Stewart to catch up to him. Stewart would eventually pass Kahne for the lead with just 17 laps remaining when Kahne had to make a green flag pit stop for fuel.
Laps later Stewart had to make his green flag stop for fuel, handing the lead over to Jeff Burton. Burton, Hamlin, and Blaney would all lead laps until pit stops cycled back through, with Stewart out in front.
Stewart took the lead back with eight laps remaining and, unfortunately for him, he cut down a tire with just two laps left, handing the lead over to Kahne. Kahne would lead the final two laps of the race and get his first victory in 53 Sprint Cup starts.
The top 10 finishers were Kahne, Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton, Kenseth, Sadler, Edwards, and Reutimann.
Other notables include Bobby Labonte in 11th, Kurt Busch in 16th, Stewart in 18th, and Denny Hamlin in the 24th position.
The top five in point standings are Kyle Busch, Burton, Earnhardt, Hamlin, and Bowyer.
I would just like to give a shout out to Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for both finishing in the top five because they were back in the 20s with under 50 laps to go in the race. They both decided to stretch their fuel mileage and they ended up finishing in fourth and fifth position, respectively.
That was heads-up thinking by their crew chiefs. Great call.
Charlotte is now in the history books and we can all look forward to a great weekend of racing action at "The Monster Mile" in Dover.
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