The Closer Claims His Second Coca-Cola 600
CONCORD, N.C. – They don’t call Kevin Harvick the closer for nothing.
Harvick took the lead from Kasey Kahne during a restart with 11 laps left in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway and pulled away to his second victory in NASCAR’s longest race.
“I just want to say thank you to all these guys at RCR,” said Harvick. “To win at Charlotte is something that we had to overcome for a long time. We kind of had to win it on gas mileage last time, we just went and won it this time.”
Kahne appeared to have the race under control when the caution flag waved with 16 laps left for a large piece of debris on the front stretch. Kahne opted not to pit during the caution period, but Harvick and all the other lead lap cars did. Harvick got off pit road first, allowing him to restart second along Kahne.
The field returned to racing with 11 laps left and Harvick went right to work. Working the low line below Kahne, Harvick was able to take the lead at the exit of turn two. Once out front Harvick slowly pulled away, eventually beating Kahne to the checkers by 1.490 seconds.
“It was a good strategy call there,” Harvick said, referencing the final pit stop. “The 5 (Kahne) stayed out and we were able to have a little bit fresher tires and get in front of him on the restart.”
Kahne said the call to stay out while everyone else pitted effectively cost him the race.
“There were a couple guys who had just got tires so we thought they’d stay out,” said Kahne, who led a race-high 156 laps. “They were probably around 10th or 12th. So if they stay out, our tires are hot and so are there’s, we didn’t think it would be a big deal and we could get away. That didn’t happen and the whole field pitted.
“We were in a tough spot. I bet if we pit some of them don’t. I think we were just in a tough spot right there,” Kahne concluded.