Jimmie Johnson has won the 55th Annual Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the NASCAR season. Johnson who, breaks the tie with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip, with the win now has the most victories of any other driver at the 1.5 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway. Johnson has 11 victories, seven of the victories for a points’ race event and four victories for the non-points All-Star race.
Johnson led the most laps of the race with 164 of the 400 laps. He has 67 victories in 447 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, including four victories for the Coca-Cola 600, only Darrel Waltrip, who has five wins, has more wins in the 600.
“Absolutely, it’s a relief. It’s great to win,” said Johnson in victory lane, picking up his first win of the 2014 season. “I promise you, all the hype and all the concern; that was elsewhere, that wasn’t in my head. We’ve have a great race team, we had opportunity there in front of us and had stuff taken away from us. We’ve had some bad races, I’ve got to be honest about that too, but tonight we had a great race.”
“They know we’re awake. And winning, it doesn’t matter who you are,” Johnson continued. “ The 4 (Kevin Harvick) has had that momentum this year, they’ve been able to go out there and execute and show a lot of speed and win, but now that we’ve got one, we’re right there.”
With 24 laps to go, it looked like Carl Edwards would pick up the victory, thanks to a fuel mileage strategy, that gave him the lead of over 4 seconds over the field, when Alex Bowman had a blown tire two laps later which forced everyone to pit and ended Edwards’ strategy that would have given him his second win of the season.
Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Johnson, and Martin Truex Jr. stayed out on track, with Edwards winning the race off pit road. Kenseth made the pass holding Gordon, who had older tires, down on the restart and grew his lead to a little over a full second until Johnson was able to motor passed Gordon. But while Johnson was set to catch the leader, Harvick, who restarted in 10th with 18 to go, drove through the field and by 12 laps remaining Harvick was a straight-away behind Johnson.
“Man, he (Johnson) was just mowing me down. He could do that pretty much anytime he wanted to tonight,” said Kenseth. “Every time I raced by him, when he wanted he had at least 2/10ths in the back, or 3. I had clean air, everything lined up, had the lead, I just couldn’t go fast enough to hold them off.”
Harvick finished 2nd, after leading 100 laps, 1.272 second behind Johnson, Kenseth finished 3rd, with Edwards in 4th, and Jamie McMurray, last weekend’s All-Star race winner, in 5th. Brian Vickers, Gordon, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, and Brad Keselowski finish 6th to 10th respectively.
Next weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to Dover International Speedway, better known as the Monster Mile for the FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks, Sunday, June 1, with coverage of Fox beginning at 1 p.m. eastern time.