50th Coca-Cola 600: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst IMay 26, 2009

CONCORD, NC - MAY 24:  U.S. Army soldiers march during pre race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 on May 24, 2009 at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina.  (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Even though the Coca-Cola 600 is already the longest race of the season, apparently Mother Nature didn’t think it was long enough.

After being postponed on Sunday to Monday morning, the 50th Coca-Cola 600 finally began. Even though Kyle Busch dominated, he didn’t end in victory lane.

Let's check out how each athlete did in this week’s winners and losers.


David Reutimann

David Reutimann pulled off his first career win in one of the biggest races of the year.

Early in the race, they were moving forward before falling behind on the handling. They also struggled with the car as it took a gamble on pit road before the red flag on lap 228.

It's a good sign for Michael Waltrip Racing; they have been waiting for a breakthrough for this organization and, so far, 2009 has been their best year.

He was the loneliest man on the race track waiting for NASCAR to make the call.

Points: 13th

Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman won the pole and ran up front until a pit road mistake forced them to pit and tighten the lug nuts on the car. From that point on, he battled all the way back.

The car was ill-handling and it took a gamble on lap 228 to bring the car to second place.

Newman has run well the last month and has backed that up with strong top five finishes. Newman is finding his stride right now and I wouldn’t be too shocked to see him in victory lane.

Rocketman is settling nicely into the top 12.

Points: Seventh

Joey Logano

For me, Joey Logano has been my biggest surprise this season. I wasn’t surprised that he struggled early on, but in the last month, Logano has been running extremely well and that goes back to Talladega.

This weekend he ran well within the top 10 all day long and ran a smart race. He struggled with his brakes but that turned out to be the best thing for him. Logano was hoping the rain would stop so he could continue his march forward.

Logano is running so well that he could be our next first time winner.

Points: 25th

Jeff Gordon

For the first half of the race, I had already decided to put him on the “loser” list. Gordon was unhappy in his car the whole race, and he was very tight. He quickly dropped back and nearly went a lap down.

On a green flag stop, they took four tires and made an adjustment. As a result, his team began moving forward. They took two tires during a caution and restarted eighth. They stayed in the top 10 until electing to come down the pit road before the red flag on lap 228.

He ended up finishing 14th.

This team has once again shown they are able to bounce back even when the car is not handling well.

Gordon answered more questions about his back than the race car this weekend.

Points: First

Brian Vickers

Brian Vickers likes this race and the track it takes place on. He has led at least one lap here in his last three stops at Lowe's. But for Vickers, they just can’t seem to close the deal. Last year, he crashed when a loose wheel ended his day just over halfway into the race—a race in which he dominated.

Today he had a race car that was better than last years car. He had an issue on pit road and was forced to battle back. If the rain had not come, he would have challenged for the win.

Instead, Vickers had to settle for fifth.  

Vickers needs to make the chase this year. He has the talent, but he needs to close the deal.

Points: 16th

Juan Pablo Montoya

Well what can you say, it seems like the light has come on for this team. I think that the switch to Chevrolet has helped this team the most. Juan Pablo Montoya is looking to win, and he's looking to win big.

Montoya ran well all day long. He ran the longest way around and picked off cars. Montoya is another driver who needs to make the chase this year and to do that, he needs top 15 finishes.

Today he did just that by finishing eighth in a strong race car. If they had the chance, they would have contended for the win.

Montoya is missing something small. If they can figure out what that missing piece is, this team will see the results become more consistent.

Points: 14th


Kyle Busch

For Kyle Busch, all he wants to do is win. Mother Nature has not been cooperating; nor has his luck.

On Monday, Busch dominated the race and led the most laps only to have Mother Nature once again ruin what could have been. He was forced to pit while Reutimann and others stayed out.

Busch cycled out in sixth.

Busch will win again, we know that. However, the rest of the field should be relieved because he has lost just as many races as he has won this season with Monday being no different.

Points: Sixth

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick was never very good this weekend. This weekend’s race was a snapshot of how this season has gone so far. He got into some early trouble with Sam Hornish Jr., which caused him to cut a tire. Harvick hit the wall and that effectively ended his day.

He finished  41st.

Harvick is in some real trouble. He is barely running well enough to be a contender each race.

This team needs to get it together. They are running out of races and have had way too many bad races this season.

Points: 23rd

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Well, to be honest, I wasn’t surprised to see Earnhardt running so poorly. However, I was surprised at just how bad they were.

We saw Gordon struggle, but he was able to make adjustments and battle back.

Mark Martin had pit issues, but they too battled back. Jimmie Johnson ran up front but then struggled with handling too, even though he was able to stay in contention. 

All three are examples of things Earnhardt has faced all year but has not been able to overcome.

Monday was no different as he finished well off the pace and two laps down in 38th.

This team needs to get it together. There are no more excuses for not running well, especially when your teammates are facing the same handling issues and are able to adjust.

He is driving the best equipment in the sport, and finishing off the lead lap is not acceptable.

Points: 19th

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch had a good car.

He didn’t have the best car, but he quickly moved forward. They ran within the top 15 all day long until a loose wheel forced them to pit way before green flag stops would have started.

The final caution waved and trapped Busch one lap down.

He finished 37th.

Busch brought the same car they had at Atlanta, hoping for the same results. Today was not their day either. They were never able to get to the front.

Even though he fell off the lead lap, he still kept his position in the standings.

Points: Third

Lucky Dog:

Robby Gordon finished third, but his car was really a 15th-20th place car. It was nice to see this team get a good finish even if it was because of Mother Nature.

Points: 34th

Bobby Labonte has struggled recently. After a strong start to the season, they have struggled as they gambled on the final stop and finished 12th.

Points: 27th

The fans are ones I wouldn't call lucky, but they stuck it out and waited as long as they could to see a conclusion to what was a very long two days.

Final Lap:

I think in regards to the weather this weekend, NASCAR handled this the best they could. On Monday, they attempted  to race and figured if they could get to halfway they would be alright.

After numerous cautions, red flags, and weather surrounding the track, NASCAR made the right call for the fans, drivers, and crews.

You can say a lot of bad things about NASCAR and the issues this sport is facing, but they sure did a few things right on Monday.

When the caution flew, the announcement reminded me of why NASCAR has such a close relationship with the military.

I was particularly proud to be a fan of this sport; NASCAR is one of most visible sports that is hands on with the military, and today we saw that relationship at its best.

The moment of silence was deafening and a wonderful honor to those who have and are fighting for the freedoms we often take for granted. To those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for our nation so that we all can enjoy days like today, thank you.

Thank you to all our troops past, present, and future who protect our country.

That’s all for me folks...See you at Dover.


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