A continuously updated blog from the days events.
(10:32 p.m.) And Kasey Kahne wins the Coca-Cola 600. He is sixth driver to win the All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. Fans voted him into the All-Star Race last week and he won the $1 million purse. Now he’s taking victory laps on the track. Tony Stewart was in the lead up until the final two laps, when his front right tire popped and he headed into Pit Road. Kahne took the lead and never looked back. He broke a 52-winless streak.
Kahne’s teammate, Elliott Sadler, came up to him, poured some Coke down his back and gave him a hug.
The top five behind Kahne: 2nd: Greg Biffle; 3rd: Kyle Busch; 4th: Jeff Gordon; 5th: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In the point standings, Kyle Busch is in the lead, with 1,860 point, with Jeff Burton 94 points behind and Dale Jr. 139 points behind.
It took 4 hours and 24 minutes to run the Coca-Cola 600—a marathon race. But an exciting one anyway. Now on to Dover.
(10:15 p.m.) 10 laps to go—here we go. The final laps.
(10:12 p.m.) The cars are taking Pit Road for the final fuel stop. Kasey Kahne goes in first, followed by Kyle Petty and Mark Martin. Kahne is back on track—Tony Stewart is in the lead.
(10:02 p.m.) Kasey Kahne took the lead from Kyle Busch and is still ahead with 30 laps to go. This is the beginning on the end here and we’ll have one last pit stop for fuel and tires to finish out the race. Patrick Carpentier in in Pit Road with engine problems.
(9:55 p.m.) And the race is taking its toll. Jimmie Johnson dropped back to 4th and is done for the night. It looks like he has dropped a cylinder. Kyle Busch has taken the lead with 44 laps to go.
(9:47 p.m.) Jimmie Johnson takes the lead after the restart, with Tony Stewart in second place.
(9:45 p.m.) The operative word of this race is endurance. There is no longer race in all of NASCAR than the Coca-Cola 600. It is the driver that has the best machine, but also the most endurance that will win the race in the end. We’ve seen a lot of problems with cars tonight—including Kyle Busch’s battery troubles, Dale Jr. rear tire and Brian Vickers throwing a tire into the infield. Even Juan Pablo Montoya took a 100-mph skid through the infield grass earlier in the race.
We’re still in caution and ready to go into restart.
(9:40 p.m) Dale Jr. troubles continue as he is back in Pit Road for repairs. For a short time this evening, Dale Jr. had the lead, then had problems with his right rear tire, skidded the wall and took a hit in the rear by J.J.Yeley. Now he’s back on the track and restarted with 66 laps left. Dale Jr. is 20th.
And we’re back to caution—the 11 th of the night.
(9:30 p.m.) Kasey Kahne is now in the lead. He is trying be the sixth driver to win the Sprint All-Star Race and the Coca-Cola 600. The last driver to do that was Jimmie Johnson. But we have about 80 laps to go and anything—as we have seen—can happen.
(9:20 p.m.) Back on the green flag, Tony Stewart and Kasey Kahne lead the field.
(9:17 p.m.) And we’re back in the caution.
(9:04 p.m.) As quickly as he took the lead, Dale Earnhardt Jr. loses blowing a tire and hitting the wall. The wreck puts Earnhardt near the back of the pack. Announcers said the damage is minimal and believe he’ll be able to regain position later in the race.
(8:54 p.m.) Dale Earnhardt Jr. takes the lead and the crowd takes to their feet. For the first time in the previous 275 laps, Earnhardt holds first place.
The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevy is a fan favorite at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. After securing the first place position, the crowd stood up and applauded.
(8:40 p.m.) Brian Vickers, driver of the No. 83 Red. Bull Toyota said his crew has figured out what caused his car to wreck. Vickers back right tire broke off and careened into the infield hitting a camper. (There were no injuries).
“We knew we had a problem the last two run and we had the left-rear wheel work loose toward the end of the run, but it stayed in,” Vickers said. “At the beginning of the run it started vibrating a little bit. The first time it happened [it] was very gradual and the last time it was very, very sudden.”
Vickers said it is frustrating to be out of the race, especially since he was taken out of the Coca-Cola 600 last year.
Vickers added that NASCAR took the wheel that flew into the infield for inspection, but said his race team would send some souvenirs to the family that lost the wheel. The early exit means a 42 place finish for Vickers.
(8:30 p.m.) A lot of people ask what it’s like to be a reporter at an event like this. Currently, I’m sitting in the air conditioned Time Warner Media Center in the infield of Lowe’s Motor Speedway. About 50 reporters from across the country are sitting in the room watching in the race on monitors over our heads. Each one has their own little ritual, especially during wrecks.
“Oh! No, no, no, no, no! Watch out!” one woman will scream every time a car begins to slide or two cars make contact. Each caution, she yells. We currently in our six caution.
Others take a more dour approach, and critique the driver for what he should have done to avoid the wreck.
Every few minutes someone from the track brings over a press release that contains stats, figures or quotes from drivers who were recently knocked out of the race.
Track officials have given us food, they’ve given us access to drivers, and some of the reporters got Teddy bears.
I was not one of those lucky few.
(8:15 p.m.) Robby Gordon’s, driver of the No. 7 Jim Beam Dodge, issued a statement about his engine issues earlier that made him leave the race.
“It looks like we dropped a valve in the motor,” Gordon said.
Gordon’s early exit forced the driver to take a 43 place finish.
“It’s going to hurt us in the points standings bit time. It’s disappointing because I really like how our Jim Beam Dodge was running most of the race … so it’s disappointing to have a race car so good and out of the race this early.”
(8:00 p.m.) NASCAR officials took away the tire. No souvenir.
(7:44 p.m.) After some technical difficulties, we’ve got the blog back up and running. A tire that tore off of the 83 Red Bull Car bounced its way into the infield and hit a camper. No one was injured from the wreck, NASCAR officials just reported. At least someone got a great souvenir.
(4:57 p.m.) Sometimes called “Humpy Wars” several soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division showcased their assault capabilities for fans at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Using the front stretch as a makeshift battleground, several soldiers crawled across the grass, firing blanks an imaginary enemies. Three large cannons destroyed what looked like a fake house on the front stretch as the finale.
Several helicopters flew below the upper deck of the grandstands to start the event.
Several fans call this event, which is held every year at the Coca-Cola 600, “Humpy Wars,” due to outgoing President and General Manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway flare for theatrics. Each year the Coca-Cola 600 is held on Memorial Day weekend and speedway officials said the display is to honor America’s military servicemen and women.
(3:45 p.m.) Humpy Wheeler spoke only briefly at his final driver’s meeting Sunday afternoon. NASCAR officials took time at the beginning of the meeting before introducing the special guests and going on driver rules to thank Wheeler for his 32 years of service as President and General Manager of Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
Wheeler thanked the drivers for their support and kept up a sense of humility.
“No one has ever bought a ticket to this racetrack to see something I was doing,” he said. “They come here for you and I can’t thank you enough.”
Special guests to the Coca-Cola 600 are University of South Carolina Football Coach Steve Spurrier, U.S. Senator from North Carolina Elizabeth Dole, several military officials and soldiers and many Coca-Cola executives.
(3:00 p.m.) Traffic to the speedway is at it’s worse as fans begin to fill the grandstands and walk around the booths set up outside. All entrance ways, N.C. 29, Interstate-85, Bruton Smith Boulevard, and Morehead Road are stopped for miles. Anyone who wants to avoid this traffic should take N.C. 49.