Jimmie Johnson celebrated his first victory of the season by winning the Coca Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway last evening. Johnson not only avoided getting swept up in a 5-car crash on Lap 235, he was never pressured after blowing past Matt Kenseth 9 laps from the finish. In fact, Johnson, who earned the pole Thursday night, led the field for 165 of 400 laps during the race yesterday. Kevin Harvick, who led 100 laps, was 2nd, while Matt Kenseth finished 3rd. Rounding out the top 5 finishers were Carl Edwards 4th, and Jamie McMurray (who won the All-Star race last weekend at Charlotte) was 5th.
The aforementioned crash was apparently set in motion when Marcos Ambrose spun in front of oncoming traffic. Although she tried hard to avoid being caught up in the mess, Danica Patrick was sent crashing into the wall by Brian Scott who unable to slow down in time. While she had qualified for 4th starting position, she ended up finishing 39th (her worst showing in three runnings of the Coca Cola 600). Josh Wise also failed to slow down in time to avoid the wreck and ended up making contact with Landon Cassill’s car.
Other drivers who also failed to finish the race included Kurt Busch who barely made it to the start on time after his helicopter landed in the infield just an hour before racetime, following an 850-mile trip from Indianapolis where he had just finished 6th in the Indy 500. Unfortunately his bid to take the 600 ended when he blew his engine with 129 laps left to go. In addition, David Gilliland abruptly withdrew from contention when after he cut down a tire and hit the wall hard on lap 160.