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Harvick Makes Late Charge to Win in Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. -- Kevin Harvick won a battle of survival in the Coca-Cola 600, emerging late as his contenders fell aside to cap an eventful Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Harvick notched his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season and his second victory in stock-car racing’s longest race in the last three seasons. He led just 28 of the 400 laps to notch his 22nd win in NASCAR’s top division.

Kasey Kahne, last year’s winner of the 600, stayed on the track on old tires during the race’s last caution period, finishing second after leading 156 laps. Kurt Busch, pole-starter Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano completed the top five.
After several long green-flag runs during the early stages of the marathon race, the intensity picked up for the final quarter. Defending series champion Brad Keselowski crashed after a three-wide battle with rookie Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., sending the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford to a 36th-place finish.
The last of the night’s three red flags came out after 326 laps, just after a five-car melee involving Jeff Gordon, Aric Almirola, Mark Martin, Stenhouse and Bobby Labonte.
In the 333rd lap, five-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson looped his No. 48 Chevrolet, collecting Juan Pablo Montoya, Paul Menard, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, who had one of the race’s strongest cars in the early going. Kenseth led 115 laps but had just a 15th-place finish to show for it.
The race was halted just before the quarter mark for a broken nylon rope that fell onto the 1.5-mile track’s frontstretch. Kyle Busch, leading at the time, struck the cable first, damaging his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The cars of Marcos Ambrose and Menard also suffered significant damage.
Speedway officials said that 10 fans were injured by the rope, a guide for the overhead camera. Three were transported to an area hospital for observation; seven were treated and released for minor cuts and scrapes at a track infirmary.
The race was stopped to clean up the length of cable, and under the unique circumstances, teams were given 15 minutes to make repairs and change tiresunder another red-flag period.
Busch’s crew replaced the right-front fender with a large patch and he continued tolead after green-flag racing resumed. Ambrose’s crew replaced a severed brake line, and NASCAR officials allowed the Aussie to return to the lead lap. Menard continued on after replacing a cut tire.
But Busch’s night went from sour to worse in the 251st of 400 laps when his car’s engine expired. After leading 65 laps, he wound up with a 38th-place finish.
“I thought we were about a fourth- or fifth-place car tonight and we’d been running first, second, third much of the evening,” Busch said. “Just catastrophic engine failure -- seems to be that time of year again.”
Just one lap later, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s engine failed in a major way, dropping fluid that swept Greg Biffle, Dave Blaney and Travis Kvapil into the third-turn wall.
“We never have those problems,” Earnhardt said after his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet limped back to the garage for a 39th-place finish. “Hendrick guys always build good stuff. We’re not worried about this down the road. We will be all right.”

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