Jimmie Makes History with Coca-Cola 600 Win
JIMMIE MAKES HISTORY WITH COCA-COLA 600 WIN -- For those wondering if Jimmie Johnson would ever win a race this season, the wait is over. Johnson ducked below Matt Kenseth with nine laps to go to earn his 67th career win Sunday in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
It was Johnson's fourth win in the Coca-Cola 600 and his seventh Sprint Cup Series points win overall at Charlotte - more than any other driver in speedway history.
The win ended a 13-race winless streak for the six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion - a streak that didn't seem to bother the driver at all, but provided plenty of fodder for the media.
"What are you all going to write about now?" Johnson asked in the media center. "I honestly wasn't concerned about it. We created this environment for ourselves. For it to be such a big deal after not winning (13) races … I'll turn it into a compliment."
A hard-charging Kevin Harvick also overtook Kenseth in the closing laps to finish second, a final result he was still less than pleased about.
"We had a fast car all night and just kind of fumbled again on pit road," Harvick said. "We got behind and got a lap down and needed a 700-mile race to get back up front."
After taking the lead from Jeff Gordon on the race's final restart with 17 to go, Kenseth shuffled back to finish third in NASCAR's longest race.
"We got a good restart and got out front; unfortunately I had no speed to hang on in front of Jimmie (Johnson) and Kevin (Harvick) and hang on to win," Kenseth said. "Overall for the weekend I thought it was a step in the right direction. I thought we were more competitive tonight. I didn't think we were quick enough to win unless everything fell exactly our way, but overall it was a step in the right direction."
Kurt Busch's attempt to run both the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 ended with a blown motor on lap 230.
"My heart is broken a little," Busch said. "I was hoping to do 1,100 miles today. I can't let what happened here dampen what happened up in Indianapolis. Today is a memory I'll have forever. It was a challenge put forth for myself. I'd love to do it again."
JIMMIE JOHNSON (Winner, No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) - "Through the years we have put a lot on this race; it's one of our majors. Six hundred miles around here is no easy task. And to deal with all of the things that are thrown at us with racing through the evening, the track changing, the mechanical changes to the car, keeping the engine alive, the tires alive. All of this is a serious team effort. To race 600 miles here and get the win, as hard as we had run tonight and the pace we had to keep up, I am certainly proud of that. There was so much great racing today, and obviously the big remembrance for the men and women who serve our country, and made the ultimate sacrifice. To have the patriotic paint scheme on the car to say 'thank you' to the families of those who have lost loved ones meant a lot to us. I'm proud to be a part of it."
CHAD KNAUS (Crew chief, No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) - "Well obviously, this is a pretty special place. To be able to win this race again is pretty special. It's really neat. We have to thank Kenny Francis and Kasey Kahne. They came over here last week and had a very fast race car. And we definitely pilfered their notes a little bit and came back with some of the ingredients in the race car. It was really fast this weekend, and it responded well to that. It was a good weekend. We were fast during the two practices on Saturday during the day, so we tried to understand what the track was going to do."
RICK HENDRICK (Car owner, No. 48 Lowe's Patriotic Chevrolet) - "Charlotte is home for us. I won my first NASCAR race here with Sr. (Dale Earnhardt) in '83 in the Nationwide Series, so it's been a special place. But to win a race when Jimmie (Johnson) and Chad (Knaus) have been so close in several situations, to get this one behind us, is great. This is a tough race to win with the adjustments you have to make. Just the endurance of the race itself. I'm just glad to get the victory and see these guys get the win."
KEVIN HARVICK (Second-place finisher, No. 4 Budweiser Folds of Honor Chevrolet) — "Just a loose wheel and spent the rest of the night trying to catch up. We had a fast car all night and just kind of fumbled again on pit road. We got behind and got a lap down. And we needed a 700-mile race to get back to where we needed to be. All in all, we're doing a good job with the car on the track. We just have to clean up on pit road. We just shot ourselves in the foot, but you knew that Jimmie (Johnson) was going to get one, you know, they have won championships through the years and were solid all weekend. They didn't make any mistakes and kept themselves up front all night and won the race. So in the end, you are going to have to beat them in all ways, shapes and forms."
MATT KENSETH (Third-place finisher, No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota) - "Everything kind of fell into place with that caution. We got a good restart, got out front; unfortunately I had no speed to hang on in front of Jimmie (Johnson) and Kevin (Harvick) and hang on to win. Overall for the weekend I thought it was a step in the right direction. I thought we were more competitive tonight. I didn't think we were quick enough to win unless everything fell exactly our way, but overall it was a step in the right direction. We had a top-5 car pretty much all night, we had good stops, great adjustments, just didn't hang on to it."
JEFF GORDON (Seventh-place finisher, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) - "It was better than Saturday morning, and that's what I was thankful for. There were quite a few people that were tending to me, and I'm thankful for that. We had such a great race car. I love that call there at the end. I don't know if I could have held off Matt, but I could give him a heck of a run. I'm happy that I got through it."