Extra Caffeine: Kurt Busch Wins The Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR's Longest Race

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Coca-Cola 600 Race Results, Updated Sprint Cup Point Standings

Here are the race results for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600:

  1. Kurt Busch
  2. Jamie McMurray
  3. Kyle Busch
  4. Mark Martin
  5. David Reutimann
  6. Jeff Gordon
  7. Clint Bowyer
  8. Paul Menard
  9. Ryan Newman
  10. Matt Kenseth
  11. Kevin Harvick
  12. Kasey Kahne
  13. Joey Logano
  14. AJ Allmendinger
  15. Tony Stewart
  16. Carl Edwards
  17. Sam Hornish Jr.
  18. Denny Hamlin
  19. Regan Smith
  20. Brad Keselowski
  21. Elliott Sadler
  22. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  23. Martin Truex Jr.
  24. David Ragan
  25. Jeff Burton
  26. David Gilliland
  27. Bill Elliott
  28. Travis Kvapil
  29. Casey Mears
  30. Scott Speed
  31. Bobby Labonte
  32. Greg Biffle
  33. Robby Gordon
  34. J.J. Yeley
  35. Kevin Conway
  36. Marcos Ambrose
  37. Jimmie Johnson
  38. Juan Pablo Montoya
  39. Joe Nemechek
  40. Todd Bodine
  41. Johnny Sauter
  42. Michael McDowell
  43. Dave Blaney

Updated Sprint Cup point standings:

  1. Kevin Harvick
  2. Kyle Busch (-29)
  3. Matt Kenseth (-117)
  4. Jeff Gordon (-138)
  5. Denny Hamlin (-166)
  6. Kurt Busch (-172)
  7. Jimmie Johnson (+151 to Chase)
  8. Jeff Burton (+114 to Chase)
  9. Greg Biffle (+105 to Chase)
  10. Mark Martin (+92 to Chase)
  11. Carl Edwards (+59 to Chase)
  12. Ryan Newman (+4 to Chase)
  13. Clint Bowyer (-4 from Chase)
  14. Martin Truex Jr. (-14)
  15. Jamie McMurray (-26)
  16. Tony Stewart (-27)
  17. Dale Earnhardt Jr (-54)
  18. Joey Logano (-86)
  19. David Reutimann (-125)
  20. Juan Pablo Montoya (-176)
  21. Kasey Kahne
  22. Paul Menard
  23. AJ Allmendinger
  24. David Ragan
  25. Brad Keselowski
  26. Scott Speed
  27. Brian Vickers
  28. Elliott Sadler
  29. Sam Hornish Jr.
  30. Marcos Ambrose
  31. Regan Smith
  32. Travis Kvapil
  33. Bobby Labonte
  34. Robby Gordon
  35. David Gilliland
  36. Kevin Conway
  37. Mike Bliss
  38. Joe Nemechek
  39. Max Papis
  40. David Stremme
Biggest Gainers: Kurt Busch (+3), Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger, Joe Nemechek (+2). Biggest Losers: Jimmie Johnson (-3), Greg Biffle, Martin Truex Jr., Tony Stewart, David Ragan, Marcos Ambrose (-2).

Owner Points: Robby Gordon fell out of the top 35 in owner points and will have to qualify on speed at Pocono. Front Row Motorsports' No. 37 (David Gilliland) jumped two spots to 34th, leaving FRM's No. 38 (Travis Kvapil) on the bubble, 15 points ahead of Gordon.
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Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch Clash Following Coca-Cola 600

For the second straight week, Kyle Busch was in the spotlight following a racing incident at Charlotte that left other drivers questioning his understanding of racing etiquette.

First it was teammate Denny Hamlin in the All-Star Race, who wondered why Busch was so upset with him. Sunday night, it was Jeff Burton, who confronted Busch on pit road after some late-race contact.

Late in the Coke 600, Busch, Burton and Clint Bowyer had gone three-wide, and Burton had a tire cut down by contact with Busch.

Unfortunately for Burton, who had a car that could challenge for the win, the flat tire forced him to pit and turned a likely top-five finish into 25th.

The sequence of events left the veteran furious with Busch, and Burton let him know about it on pit road after the race.

"Kyle made it three-wide on the restart because the guys on the bottom didn't have tires and he was trying to make something happen, which I don't have a problem with," Burton said. "So he runs into me and cuts my left-rear tire, then I have a problem with it. He's real aggressive. That's cool. But when he starts affecting me with his aggressiveness, I just will not put up with it. I've been around here long enough. I just will not tolerate it."

On Thursday, Burton had defended Busch's style and said he enjoyed racing with the aggressive driver.

"I like racing with Kyle; I really do," Burton said then. "I know he's going to be aggressive and I know he's going to come at me, but I'm good with that."

But Sunday night, his tune was slightly different.

This time, Burton said he likes racing with Busch, but refuses to be "the victim of his aggressiveness."

"I don't really have any trouble with Kyle," Burton said. "We all make mistakes, but when you see somebody as aggressive as he is, when he makes a mistake around you, it makes you mad."

Of their conversation on pit road, Burton said: "First he said he didn't hit me. Then he said he got put there, then he said he had to go. He didn't mean to do it, OK. He was trying to defend himself and what he was saying wasn't making sense. That's OK, he was upset because I was yelling at him. He didn't mean to do it, but he's real aggressive and I don't mind that. But like I said, when it affects me, then I have a problem."

Busch seemed disappointed that Burton was upset with him and observed the "nice respect stuff that he talked about earlier this week is out the window."

"I have no idea what transpired there," Busch said. "...After the race, he was just real mad at me. He said I didn't race him with enough respect, he's not going to show me any.

"I said, 'Look, man, last restart of the race. You have to go, make some bold moves. It wasn't me that made it three-wide, it was your teammate (Clint Bowyer). Have a chat with him.'"

Said Burton: "It's all cool making it three-wide, but if you can't make it three-wide without running into somebody, then you shouldn't do it."

Asked what Busch could have done differently, Burton had a simple answer.

"Not run into me," he said. "That's what he could have done different."

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Why Was Kasey Kahne Never A Factor In Coke 600?

Charlotte has historically been Kasey Kahne's best track, with three of his 11 career wins coming at the home track for most NASCAR teams.

And Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 looked promising for Kahne, as he was strong in every practice and qualified fourth.

But once the green flag dropped, the No. 9 car was never a factor. Kahne never cracked the top 10 for the last 320 laps of the race and finished 12th.

So what gives?

"I was confused too," he said. "I thought we were going to be really good. We were just out of the racetrack, front and rear, the whole race. We could never get it right, fighting back and forth. Just never got it right. I was surprised."

Kahne said the team tried "everything we could" to adjust the car, but nothing seemed to get the car how it needed to be.

"This type of a track, it's all about the splitter and getting it down but not too hard," he said. "We were just off a little bit there, probably. We'll just keep working on it."

Kahne remained 21st in points, 183 outside a Chase spot.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. Reflects On 22nd-Place Finish

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading the Coca-Cola 600 with less than 40 laps to go, but it was all an illusion.

Crew chief Lance McGrew wanted Earnhardt Jr. to stay out until absolutely necessary in order to catch what he hoped would be a timely caution, possibly allowing the team to steal a top five.

But the caution never came and Earnhardt Jr., instead forced to pit under green, finished 22nd.

It was another disappointing result for a team that had seemingly overcome bad luck midway through the race (pieces of trash stuck to the grille and caused the water temperature to rise, making Earnhardt Jr. pit and lose a lap). The strategy, though, simply didn't work out.

"I wanted to pit earlier so we didn't go a lap down like we did," Earnhardt Jr. said. "That seemed like the thing to do. We were gambling – he (McGrew) was wanting to gamble – but it didn't work out for us. If it'd have worked, it would have (gotten a solid finish). But we weren't lucky."

Earnhardt Jr. said the team "worked hard as hell" throughout the race, but said it was a "long-ass race to be sliding around out there like that."

It was the No. 88's fourth consecutive finish outside the top 15, a stretch which has dropped Earnhardt Jr. to 17th in points. He sits 54 points outside the Chase.

"We got her handling pretty good there, just never had no good track position," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Got it driving good, made a lot of changes. Some worked, some hurt us, some helped us. Our strategy at the end just didn't work for what Lance had in mind.

"We really didn't finish worse than we were going to."

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Chat Recap: Kurt Busch Sweeps Charlotte Speedweeks, Wins Coke 600

Kurt Busch has won the Coca-Cola 600, sweeping the Charlotte Speedweeks.

Just one week after winning the million-dollar prize in the All-Star Race, Busch drove to victory by leading 252 of the 400 laps for his 22nd career win.

It was Busch's first-ever victory at Charlotte, and it denied Chip Ganassi, runnerup Jamie McMurray's car owner, what would have been a historic double: Winning both major Memorial Day Weekend races in one day.

Earlier Sunday, Ganassi won the Indianapolis 500 with driver Dario Franchitti.

Kyle Busch finished third, closing to within 29 points of leader Kevin Harvick, who was 11th.

Click below to read all the comments from fans who chatted as the race unfolded.

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Ryan Newman Wins Coke 600 Pole; Starting Lineup Here

"Rocket" Ryan Newman still has some fuel left in his qualifying tank.

After what he called the most courageous lap he's ever run at Charlotte Motor Speedway – charging into the corner on the high line at around 200 mph – Newman won the 46th pole of his career, tying him for 10th on the all-time list with Hall of Famer Junior Johnson.

It was Newman's ninth career pole at Charlotte, and his lap of 187.546 mph was only four-hundredths of a second faster than Kurt Busch's second-place run.

Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top five.

Four drivers failed to qualify for the race: Reed Sorenson, Max Papis, David Stremme and Mike Bliss.

Here's the starting lineup for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600:

  1. Ryan Newman
  2. Kurt Busch
  3. Martin Truex Jr.
  4. Kasey Kahne
  5. Jimmie Johnson
  6. David Reutimann
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Joey Logano
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Clint Bowyer
  11. Mark Martin
  12. Jeff Burton
  13. Casey Mears
  14. Sam Hornish Jr.
  15. Jeff Gordon
  16. Matt Kenseth
  17. Dave Blaney
  18. AJ Allmendinger
  19. Joe Nemechek
  20. Juan Pablo Montoya
  21. Scott Speed
  22. Johnny Sauter
  23. Kevin Harvick
  24. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  25. Bill Elliott
  26. Tony Stewart
  27. Jamie McMurray
  28. David Gilliland
  29. Todd Bodine
  30. Michael McDowell
  31. Carl Edwards
  32. Regan Smith
  33. Paul Menard
  34. Marcos Ambrose
  35. David Ragan
  36. Robby Gordon
  37. J.J. Yeley
  38. Brad Keselowski
  39. Bobby Labonte
  40. Elliott Sadler
  41. Greg Biffle
  42. Travis Kvapil
  43. Kevin Conway
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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 'I'm Not Satisfied With Running Poorly'

There's no question Dale Earnhardt Jr. has had a few bad weeks.

A 32nd-place finish at Richmond. A night of struggles at Darlington. A "complete mess" at Dover, as Earnhardt Jr. said himself. And a disappointing finish in the Sprint All-Star Race.

But Earnhardt Jr. wants to be clear about one thing: He's not giving up.

"I'm definitely not satisfied with running poorly," he said Thursday night after qualifying. "I don't think any driver in the garage is, and I'm no different than any of those guys. I want to run better and it really beats me up pretty bad not to run good. We just find some way during the week to get yourself motivated to come back and try harder.

"We're trying really hard. It's unfortunate that we're not better. There's nobody laid down. We're all working really hard."

That hard work, Earnhardt Jr. said, leaves him optimistic that a turnaround for the No. 88 team remains close. Any day now, the sport's most popular driver said, he feels like "We can show up and it'll just be a switch."

"And there would be (success) right around the corner if we can just keep working hard," he said.

Earnhardt Jr. fans have voiced their frustration as their driver has fallen out of the top 12 after a solid start to the season, including concerns about how well Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Lance McGrew are working together.

But the driver insisted both he and his crew chief are putting forth their best efforts and added "We aren't leaving any stones unturned to try and find out where the competitiveness has gone."

"As we continue to be out-paced by our teammates, between me and Lance we've gotten more honest about what we feel like our weaknesses are and what we feel like we need to work on," he said. "When we do that, we seem to be able to at least work on those ideas and work on those problems. Whether we fix them or not, I don't know."

As for this weekend, Earnhardt Jr. said his team spent the day in qualifying trim (he qualified 24th) and can only hope the forecasted rain for Saturday holds off so that McGrew and the crew can work on the car.

"I'll have to see how the car is Saturday," the driver said. "Don't like how the car drove in the All-Star race and I'm sure Lance wants to go another route."

Overall, despite the rough patch, Earnhardt Jr. said the team has "really done more positive things than we had last year."

"We can pick that back up on Sunday, 600 miles," he said.

And for those who may question Earnhardt Jr.'s effort?

"There ain't nothing I can do about that," he said. "I'm not going to argue with them. You can't change some people's opinions about you."

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Denny Hamlin Has Strong Words For Kyle Busch Following All-Star Incident

Denny Hamlin isn't backing down from Kyle Busch one bit.

In his strongest comments about his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate to date, Hamlin said he has no desire to participate in the drama Busch "brings (upon) himself."

Hamlin said Busch "gets mad at the media for asking him questions about his blow-ups and stuff, but he does it to himself."

"I don't want to be part of it," he said. "Any drama that he wants to create or anything is on him. Anything he says on the radio is on him. Each year I think Kyle's going to grow out of it, and he just doesn't. Until he puts it all together, that's when he'll be come a champion. Right now, he just doesn't have himself together."

As for the All-Star race in which Busch felt Hamlin didn't give him enough room, the driver of the No. 11 said he wouldn't have changed anything he did on Saturday night. In fact, he said, "Nobody in my position would."

"I challenge anyone to be in that position and to change the way I drove," Hamlin said. "The thing is that he was never there (alongside the 11 car), there was never a hole for his car to fit in.

"He has a gas pedal and a brake just like I do. He could choose to check up and pass me in the next corner or put his car in the fence like what happened."

Hamlin continued by saying "I didn't wreck him" and placed blame for the incident on Busch, adding, "He just didn't let up when he probably should have."

"But moving forward, I don't expect anything different," Hamlin said. "That's why Kyle has the attention that he has, because he's fiery and everything like that.

"He has a blowup about once every two or three weeks and then it fires him up for the next two or three weeks until something happens and it simmers down and then he starts something else again. I think that's what kind of fuels him and he feeds off that. He really does."

Hamlin, though, reiterated his desire to work together with Busch and make sure anything between the drivers didn't poison the chemistry between the crews.

"I'm still going to need him," Hamlin said. "We're going to need to still work together."

Hamlin perhaps felt the need to reassert his leadership role on the team – a role he took over following the departure of Tony Stewart.

"Somebody's got to be the leader," he said. "It ain't going to be Kyle."

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Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch Discuss Abandoning Nationwide Title Hopes

Two past Nationwide Series champions who are currently second and third in points in that series will abandon their title hopes after this weekend.

Though neither ever said they planned to run the full season, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch at least toyed with the idea of going for another championship. Both drivers have participated in every Nationwide race so far.

But with the Sprint Cup Series splitting from Nationwide for a couple weeks, both said they won't try to go back and forth between two tracks.

Points leader Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Paul Menard are still apparently planning to attempt a full schedule in both series.

Harvick said running the full schedule would simply take away too much focus from his program on the Sprint Cup side.

"I told you guys from the beginning that I never had any intentions of doing them all," Harvick said. "You might as well leave that little ray of hope that everybody wanted so you guys could all keep talking about it.

"The only way to win (a Cup championship) is to be competitive and to race for it."

Harvick will have Mike Bliss in the No. 33 car for the next couple weeks and use Ron Hornaday for at least two races this summer (Road America and Indianapolis).

One problem is the timing of going from Sonoma to Road America (in Wisconsin), which will cause drivers to miss Saturday Cup practice in Northern California.

"They've made it impossible to not take away from both programs with the Road America race, and if I can't do them all, there is no reason to even worry about the whole summer stretch," Harvick said.

As for Busch, the defending series champion said he'll be "frustrated" to see someone else inside the car, but knew his priority needed to be with the Cup team.

"I'm going to miss running with those guys...but I feel it's a good thing," Busch said. "It's for the best for the Cup program and making sure we keep our focus there and trying to win that championship."

For more Nationwide Series news, be sure to check out Lee Montgomery's NNSRacing.com site.

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Kyle Busch Says He's Over Incident With Denny Hamlin, But Doesn't Sound Happy

Kyle Busch said he's put the All-Star incident with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin behind him, but his tone and subtle jabs at Hamlin on Thursday indicated he's still unhappy.

Last week, Busch felt Hamlin didn't give him enough room while racing for the lead late in the All-Star event, and though the 18 car wasn't alongside the 11 car yet, Busch was still infuriated with the lack of respect from his own teammate.

Busch said he was surprised because he expected a teammate like Hamlin or Joey Logano would give him the room, along with others who race him cleanly like his brother Kurt, Jimmie Johnson and Mark Martin.

He said he wouldn't have put the 18 car in that position if the driver was Brad Keselowski or Jeff Gordon.

And, Busch added, "If the roles were reversed, I don't think I would have done the same thing. That's just me."

At the time, he was so angry that he told his team he wanted to "kill" Hamlin. The two met after the race in Hamlin's hauler to talk things over.

And now?

"For me, I'm over the Denny Hamlin issue," Busch said. "It's done. We're moving forward."

But that doesn't mean he's happy about what happened. Busch also made comments such as:

  • "I do what's best for Joe Gibbs Racing. And that's to race teammates as teammates should race."
  • " His impression was it's the All-Star race and it's every man for himself. I wasn't under that impression."
  • "Course I was heated after the incident. It surprised me the way my teammate wanted to race me."
  • "I feel like we can move on and work together. A little disatisfied with his quote about how I would have done the same thing, because you can't put words in a person's mouth. I don't feel like I would have done the same thing."

When a reporter mentioned a previous incident between the drivers, Busch said that was another example of "how Denny Hamlin is as a teammate." Reporters were left to infer that Busch believes he is a better teammate than Hamlin is, because as Busch emphasized, "I race with respect."

"I've had my bad points, but since learning from Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, I've been better," Busch said. "I don't think I typically run myself into the fence."

As far as saying he wanted to "kill" Hamlin? Busch said no one should take his comments literally.

"Do I regret saying what I said over the radio? Absolutely not," he said. "That's who I am. That's heat of the moment. ... (Kill him) with what? With my great looks?"

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Six Hundred Marathon Miles: Live-Blogging NASCAR's Longest Race

I'll be honest: The Coca-Cola 600 is one of my favorite races of the year.

I know, it doesn't make sense. The 600 can often be miles and miles and miles of endless single-file racing as the cars tick off the laps and day turns into night.

And especially for someone who prefers shorter races, it sounds crazy that I love the 600.

But I do. Here's why: It's the one race that you know – just know – is going to take a long time. So there's no urgency when watching it. You can sit back, relax and watch everything unfold.

It's a marathon, not a sprint. Knowing that somehow makes it easier to just watch and enjoy.

On Memorial Day Weekend, that's a good thing. And this year, you can watch it unfold along with the rest of us in the race-day chat.

We'll all find out at the same time who becomes the latest driver to add his name to the prestigious list of past winners.

"The Coke 600 comes into everybody's conversation," Jeff Burton said. "You hear Daytona, you hear Indy, you hear the Coke 600. ... It's pretty far up there (in prestige)."

Keep checking back here for updates, analysis and the live chat.

Here's the weekend schedule:

 

  • Thursday, 3:30 p.m. – Sprint Cup practice (90 minutes)
  • Thursday, 7:10 p.m. – Sprint Cup qualifying
  • Friday – No track activity
  • Saturday, 11:30 a.m. – Sprint Cup practice (45 minutes)
  • Saturday, 12:50 p.m. – Sprint Cup practice (60 minutes)
  • Saturday, 2:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series race
  • Sunday, 6 p.m. – Coca-Cola 600
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