Race Review: The Coca-Cola 600

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Welcome race fans to the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season. It turned out to be a whole day longer than planned. And still ended because of rain before the 600 miles were completed! I call it the Coke 340.5 because only 227 laps were completed. Rain was on the Lowes Motor Speedway the whole weekend, including Memorial Day.

12 Ryan Newman started on the pole with a speed of 188.475. 18 Kyle Busch started second. The race was scheduled for 5:00 PM on Sunday to cap off a great day of racing. But Mother Nature didn’t want the race to be the last race of the day. It rained all night and the cars never did take to the track. It was postponed to Monday, Memorial Day at noon.

09  Mike Bliss, who won the rain-shortened NASCAR Nationwide race, qualified in the top ten. As did 21 former Champion Bill Elliott. 87 Joe Nemecheck starts eleventh. 66 Dave Blaney, 71 David Gilliland, 13 Max Papis and 36 Scott Riggs also made the race. 36 Riggs will start last. Failing to qualify were: 41 J. J. Yeley, 73 Mike Garvey, 64 Todd Bodine and 06 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver David Starr.

Rain is still in the area, so everyone is discussing whether or not the race will go all 600 miles. 39 Newman elects to start from the outside pole. 39 leads from the pole. And 18 takes the lead. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has an ill-handling car and drops back.

The first caution comes out while 20 Joey Logano and 87 Nemecheck battle for position for rain, on lap 8. The sun comes back out and they go back to Green on lap 12, with several drivers electing to pit first. 29 Kevin Harvick and 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. get together, causing damage to 29. The second caution comes out for the tire of 29 coming off the car. Kevin made it to the pits, but the tire didn’t.

The restart is on lap 20. 20 Joey Logano gets by 24 Jeff Gordon. 39 and 5 Mark Martin battle for second. 9 Kasey Kahne battle for position. 2 Kurt Busch battles with 20. The third caution is the “Competition Caution”, since it rained all day and night and some this morning. NASCAR decided it would come out on lap 40. 29 pits before pit road was opened so he could make some repairs. He will start from the rear. 39 Newman had to come back in for loose lug nuts. 34 Tony Raines, substituting for John Andretti, who was in the Indy 500 on Sunday, stays out to lead.

The Green Flag comes out on lap 45. 19 Elliott Sadler, 21 Elliott, 82 Scott Speed and 14 Tony Stewart are four-wide. We go to commercial with 18 and 5 catching the leader, 48 Jimmy Johnson. 18 gets by 48 and 5 gets by 48 during the commercial. 48 is loose and falls to sixth. 96 Bobby Labonte and 24 battle for fifteenth. 96 gets by. 48 gets loose. 83 Brian Vickers gets by 2 for third.

The fourth caution is for sprinkles. 18, 99 Carl Edwards, 00 David Reutimann and 26 Jamie McMurray come out of the pits first. A tire from 5 gets loose into the infield. And the race is Red Flagged for 56 minutes and 36 seconds. 7 Robby Gordon, 55 Michael Waltrip and 36 Riggs each led  laps. 83 Vickers leads and Green Flag Pitting begins. 34 may be out of gas. 20 Logano leads, 66 Blaney also leads before pitting. When it all cycles out, 18 is back in the lead. He had a better pit than 83. 9 drives by 48 for fourth. 83 catches up to leader 18, and takes the lead.

14 gets by 99 for ninth. 48 and 9 battle for fourth. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya and 18 battle for second. 42 gets by. They battle again, but 42 won’t let 18 by. The fifth caution comes out on lap 165. It is 3:00 and time to honor the Vets with a moment of silence.  God Bless America. 6 David Ragan is the Lucky Dog and gets his lap back. They all pit and stay under caution for rain. On lap 177 they go to the pits for the Red Flag because of rain. This Red Flag lasts 20 minutes and 30 seconds.

20 and 42 battle for position, and 48 and 9 battle. 2 and 00 get together. 42 and 17 Matt Kenseth battle for sixth. 17 gets by. 14 gets by 83 for tenth. 99 gets by 9. 2 gets a vibration and pits for a loose wheel. 24 and 42 battle for seventh. And they make it to half-way. 9 gets by 48 for second. 99 gets by 48 for third. 20 gets by 48 for fourth.

9Kahne is catching 18 for the lead when the sixth caution comes out on lap 221 for rain. Before 9 could take the lead. 47 Marcos Ambrose is the Lucky Dog. 00 Reutimann stays out to lead. 39 Newman and 7 R. Gordon also stay out. 71 Gilliland  stays out to be on the tail end of the lead lap. The Red flag comes out on lap 227. And the rain just doesn’t let up. After 2 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, NASCAR declares the race is over.

00 David Reutimann wins his first race, the Coca-Cola 600. He took a gamble that it would keep on raining, and it did. Mother Nature just didn’t want to cooperate.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

Hope you enjoyed  my review.

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