Joe Lee Johnson

Chattanooga, Tennessee

            1960 – Short-track promoter Bruton Smith’s dreams became reality on June 19, 1960, when Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile race track on the outskirts of the Queen City, hosted the inaugural Coca-Cola 600.

            Joe Lee Johnson inherited the lead with 48 laps remaining when a chunk of the track’s deteriorating asphalt surface flew up and punctured the gas tank on the lead car driven by Jack Smith.

            Once in command, Johnson never looked back as he beat Johnny Beauchamp to the checkered flag by more than four laps. Johnson banked $27,150 for his 600-mile drive in Paul McDuffie’s 1960 Chevrolet.

 

David Pearson

Spartanburg, South Carolina

            1961, 1974, 1976 – In a stunning upset, 26-year-old David Pearson led the final 129 laps and crossed the finish line in a shower of sparks as the driver from Spartanburg, South Carolina, scored his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in the 1961 Coca-Cola 600.

            Pearson nearly saw the win slip away when a tire blew on his No. 3 Pontiac during the final moments of the 600-mile grind.

            The crash-filled race was slowed by seven caution flags for 57 laps and Pearson’s margin of victory was more than two laps over Fireball Roberts.

            Pearson added Coca-Cola 600 victories in 1974 and 1976 during his Hall of Fame career.

 

Nelson Stacy

Cincinnati, Ohio

            1962 – David Pearson was cruising to a second consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victory when the engine in his Ray Fox-prepared Pontiac expired with eight laps remaining, handing the trophy and the $25,505 first-place prize to Nelson Stacy.

            Stacy and Fred Lorenzen, stablemates on the Holman Moody team, were forced to race cars set up for dirt tracks after NASCAR outlawed Ford’s new “fastback” sloped roofs, which were unveiled for the 600.

            The sanctioning body said the roof lines were not in mass production and did not conform to “stock” car racing.

            Stacy led only 13 laps but completed the race at a record speed of 125.552 mph.

 

Fred Lorenzen

Elmhurst, Illinois

            1963, 1965 – Junior Johnson’s misfortune was Fred Lorenzen’s gain during the fourth annual Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 1963.

            Johnson, the crowd favorite, had led 77 laps and was running a couple car lengths in front of Lorenzen when the right-rear tire on his Chevrolet blew four laps from the checkered flag.

            Lorenzen then had his own scare. “I was out of gas,” he said. “I was praying harder than I ever have before, and I couldn’t have been going more than 20 mph when I got the checkered flag.

            Lorenzen also won the 1965 edition of the Coca-Cola 600.

 

Jim Paschal

High Point, North Carolina

            1964, 1967 – In only his second start since returning to Petty Enterprises, Jim Pascal drove the No. 41 Plymouth to a convincing victory in the 1964 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Paschal’s first superspeedway triumph was marred by a fiery crash on lap seven that eventually took the life of Fireball Roberts. Roberts was attempting to avoid a pair of spinning cars when his Ford backed into the edge of a concrete wall and burst into flames.

            Paschal took command from Fred Lorenzen on lap 275 and led the remainder of the distance.

            He added a second Coca-Cola 600 victory in 1967.

 

Marvin Panch

Menomonie, Wisconsin

            1966 – Locked in a rules dispute with NASCAR, Ford ordered its factory drivers to boycott the seventh running of the Coca-Cola 600. Marvin Panch ignored that directive and drove Petty Enterprises’ No. 42 Plymouth to his first victory in almost a year.

            “Lee Petty offered me a ride in his car, so I just had to take it,” Panch said about his decision to race.

            The 40-year-old Panch outlasted a host of faster rivals to record the 17th victory of his NASCAR career. He inherited the point on lap 302 when leader Paul Goldsmith’s engine failed and was never threatened during the closing laps.

 

Buddy Baker

Charlotte, North Carolina

            1968, 1972, 1973 – After following the pace car for the final 36 laps, local favorite Buddy Baker won the 1968 Coca-Cola 600 when the rain-plagued NASCAR race was declared official following 382.5 of the scheduled 600 miles.

            The event was stopped twice due to heavy rain and 110 of the 255 laps were run under the caution flag due to a wet track. Officials finally ended the race at 7 p.m., six-and-a-half hours after it started.

            Driving Ray Fox’s Dodge, Baker led 92 laps.

            Baker eventually became the first three-time winner of the Coca-Cola 600 when he added back-to-back victories in 1972 and ’73.

 

LeeRoy Yarbrough

Jacksonville, Florida

            1969 – “It was almost a perfect day,” was how LeeRoy Yarbrough described his dominant drive to victory in the 1969 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Wheeling Junior Johnson’s No. 98 Mercury, Yarbrough started second and led 274 of the 400 laps. He assumed command for the final time on lap 162 and led the rest of the way. His last challenger was Richardt Petty, who ran second for much of the race before a blown engine put him behind the wall.

            Only 18 of the 44 starters finished the race, and Yarbrough was two laps ahead of second-place finisher Donnie Allison at the checkered flag.

 

Donnie Allison

Miami, Florida

            1970 – Heat and fatigue took a heavy toll on NASCAR’s longest race as LeeRoy Yarbrough, driving Banjo Matthews’ No. 27 Ford in relief of Donnie Allison, took the lead late in the race and went on to win the 1970 edition of the Coca-Cola 600.

            The floorboard insulation in Allison’s car came apart and the heat blistered his feet. He was replaced by Yarbrough during a lap 355 pit stop while running second.

            Yarbrough assumed command of the race when a clutch failure sidelined leader David Pearson on his final pit stop. He beat Cale Yarborough to the finish line by more than two laps.

 

Bobby Allison

Miami, Florida

            1971, 1981, 1984 – Two weeks after being hired to drive for the powerhouse Holman Moody organization, Bobby Allison posted a convincing victory in the 12th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Driving the No. 12 Mercury, Allison led 263 of the 400 laps. He took control for the final time on lap 227 and was never seriously challenged.

            Donnie Allison, the winner’s younger brother, finished a distant second. That effort came on the heels of an impressive sixth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 a day earlier.

            Bobby Allison also won the Coca-Cola 600 in 1981 and 1984 during his Hall of Fame career.

 

Richard Petty

Level Cross, North Carolina

            1975, 1977 – Richard Petty rebounded from nearly two laps down to lead 228 of the final 234 laps en route to victory in the 1975 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            It was Petty’s first major NASCAR victory at the 1.5-mile superspeedway after he won a 100-mile qualifying race in 1961.

            With the help of timely caution flags and a chassis adjustment, Petty was back on the lead lap by lap 113. He assumed control of the race on lap 166 and beat Cale Yarborough to the stripe by more than a lap.

            Petty added a second Coca-Cola 600 victory two years later in 1977.

 

Darrell Waltrip

Owensboro, Kentucky

            1978, 1979, 1985, 1988, 1989 – In the most hotly contested Coca-Cola 600 to date, Darrell Waltrip emerged from a six-car battle over the final three miles to win the 1978 edition of NASCAR’s longest race.

            Driving the No. 88 DiGard Racing Chevrolet, Waltrip had the lead for a restart with two laps remaining, and he pulled away as Donnie Allison and Benny Parsons tangled behind him.

            “I don’t know what happened behind me,” said Waltrip. “All I saw in the mirror was a lot of smoke.”

            The future NASCAR Hall of Famer added Coca-Cola 600 triumphs in 1979, 1985, 1988 and 1989.

 

Benny Parsons

Wilkes County, North Carolina

            1980 – Benny Parsons denied Darrell Waltrip’s bid for a third consecutive Coca-Cola 600 victory as the two veteran drivers swapped the lead eight times during the final 26 laps around Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 1980.

            Parsons pushed M.C. Anderson’s No. 27 Chevrolet into the lead with two laps remaining in the 400-lap affair and was able to fend off Waltrip’s last-lap charge.

            “It’s nice to win, and a very thrilling experience to be part of a race that close,” said the 1973 NASCAR Cup Series champion.

            After 600 miles of racing, the margin of victory was half a car length.

 

Neil Bonnett

Hueytown, Alabama

            1982, 1983 – Taking advantage of a lapped car, Neil Bonnett drove under Bill Elliott with 13 laps remaining and went on to win the 1982 Coca-Cola 600 in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford.

            With temperatures in the mid-90s, the race featured 47 lead changes as Bonnett was in front for only 67 of the 400 laps. Elliott led six times for 75 laps but was two car lengths behind Bonnett when the checkered flag was waved.

            “Bill drove a heck of race,” said Bonnett. “I was genuinely concerned whether or not I could pass him.”

            Bonnett won his second straight Coca-Cola 600 in 1983.

 

Dale Earnhardt

Kannapolis, North Carolina

            1986, 1992, 1993 – Dale Earnhardt cruised to victory in the 1986 Coca-Cola 600 after he inherited the lead with 16 laps remaining when Bill Elliott was forced to bring his fuel-thirsty Ford to pit road for an extra fuel stop.

            Off the pace for much of the race, a combination of good adjustments in the pits and sunshine brought Earnhardt’s No. 3 Chevrolet to life during the closing laps.

            “The track came to me,” Earnhardt said. “It was cloudy earlier and when the sun came out, our car started working better.”

            Earnhardt added Coca-Cola 600 victories in 1992 and 1993 during his Hall of Fame career.

 

Kyle Petty

Level Cross, North Carolina

            1987 – Kyle Petty, driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, proved to be best among the survivors as heavy attrition took its toll on the 1987 running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Petty assumed command 17 laps from the finish when leader Rusty Wallace’s engine went sour. Bill Elliott, Davey Allison, Geoff Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Bobby Allison, Brett Bodine and Alan Kulwicki were other leaders who were not around to see the checkered flag.

            Only 17 of the 42 starters were running at the finish.

            “I really didn’t want to lead this race,” Petty said, “but it seemed I was the only one left.”

 

Rusty Wallace

St. Louis, Missouri

            1990 – The narrow margin of victory didn’t tell the full story of the 1990 Coca-Cola 600 as Rusty Wallace, the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, dominated the day, leading 306 of the 400 laps.

            A late caution flag for oil on the track bunched the field and set the stage for a one-lap shootout. On the restart, Wallace got the jump on Bill Elliott and beat him to the checkered flag by .17 seconds.

            “I was getting off the corners so quick that it felt like I had rockets in the tailpipes,” Wallace said about his No. 27 Blue Max Racing Pontiac.

 

Davey Allison

Hueytown, Alabama

            1991 – A week after dominating the NASCAR All-Star Race, Davey Allison returned to Charlotte Motor Speedway and led 264 of the 400 laps en route to victory in the 1991 edition of the Coca-Cola 600.

            Allison’s fortunes were enhanced in the days leading up to the 600 when NASCAR allowed the Ford teams to raise their trunk lids an inch.

            “The Fords have been pretty unstable this year,” said Allison. “That is reflected in the number of wins we had – zero.”

            Allison’s No. 28 Robert Yates Racing Ford was 1.28 seconds ahead of Ken Schrader’s No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet after 600 miles of racing.

 

Jeff Gordon

Vallejo, California

            1994, 1997, 1998 – A bold, calculated call by crew chief Ray Evernham to change only two right-side tires on their final pit stop propelled 22-year-old Jeff Gordon to his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in the 35thrunning of the Coca-Cola 600.

            Driving Rick Hendrick’s No. 24 Chevrolet, Gordon started from the pole but led only a handful of laps before taking command of the race when Ricky Rudd pitted on lap 392 of 400.

            Rusty Wallace was the class of the field, leading 187 laps, but Gordon’s much quicker pit stop was the key to victory.

            Gordon added Coca-Cola 600 triumphs in 1997 and 1998.

 

Bobby Labonte

Corpus Christi, Texas

            1995 – The Labonte family certainly had reason to celebrate following the 1995 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway as Bobby Labonte recorded his first NASCAR Cup Series victory with older brother Terry chasing him across the finish line.

            In his first season behind the wheel of the No. 18 Chevrolet fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, Bobby Labonte assumed command of the race on lap 358 of 400 when Ken Schrader, who had led 169 laps, blew an engine and pulled into the garage.

            Once in command, Bobby Labonte never looked, beating his brother to the checkered flag by 6.28 seconds.

 

Dale Jarrett

Hickory, North Carolina

            1996 – Dale Jarrett’s Ford was the class of the field as the second-generation driver led 199 of the 400 laps on his way to victory in the 1996 edition of the Coca-Cola 600.

            “I’d like to take a lot of the credit, but a lot of people could have taken this car tonight and done well,” Jarrett said about the No. 88 Robert Yates Racing entry. “The car was just terrific.”

            Jarrett led the last 62 laps, building his lead to more than one-half lap before carefully cruising through traffic over the final 15 miles. Dale Earnhardt finished a distant second.

 

Jeff Burton

South Boston, Virginia

            1999, 2001 – Jeff Burton, who honed his skills on the short tracks of southern Virginia, held off Bobby Labonte over the closing laps to win the 40th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 1999.

            “The pit crew won that race,” said the driver of Jack Roush’s No. 99 Ford. “The 18 car (Labonte) was a little faster than we were at the end, but we got out in front of them.”

            Burton led 198 of the 400 laps, including the final 17. He was .574 seconds ahead of Labonte at the checkered flag.

            Burton notched a second Coca-Cola 600 triumph two years later in 2001.

 

Matt Kenseth

Cambridge, Wisconsin

            2000 – Matt Kenseth, a graduate of the tough Wisconsin short tracks, became the first NASCAR Cup Series rookie to win the Coca-Cola 600 when he topped the 2000 edition of the crown jewel event.

            Driving Jack Roush’s No. 17 Ford, Kenseth ran a mostly conservative race, apparently saving his equipment for a late-race charge. Following the final round of pit stops, he took the lead from Bobby Labonte on lap 375 and was never seriously challenged.

            “Man, I can’t believe how good that race car was,” Kenseth said. (Crew chief) Robbie (Reiser) and the guys did a great job.”

 

Mark Martin

Batesville, Arkansas

            2002 – Even in a 600-mile marathon, the smallest slip can be devastating. That’s the lesson rookie Jimmie Johnson learned as veteran Mark Martin capitalized on the youngster’s miscue to win the 2002 Coca-Cola 600.

            Johnson led 263 of the 400 laps but slid through the pit stall on his final stop and fell out of contention.

            Martin took the lead on lap 361 and held off Roush Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to end a 73-race win drought.

            “That is the hardest I’ve ever drove in my life and won,” said Martin. “Matt was putting the pressure on me and I wanted to win it so bad.”

 

Jimmie Johnson

El Cajon, California

            2003, 2004, 2005, 2014 – After starting at the back of the field due to an engine change, Jimmie Johnson sliced through traffic with the precision of a surgeon and won the 2003 Coca-Cola 600.

            Johnson, who also topped the NASCAR All-Star Race a week earlier, led only 34 laps but was in command when the race was stopped after 276 of the 400 laps due to rain.

            “We knew we were going to have a great race car again, but coming from the back we didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Johnson.

            It was the first of Johnson’s four Coca-Cola 600 victories.

 

Kasey Kahne

Enumclaw, Washington

            2006, 2008, 2012 – Driving the No. 9 Dodge owned by former crew chief Ray Evernham, Kasey Kahne avoided a late-race crash and went on to win the 2006 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            His close call came on lap 314 when Casey Mears lost control coming off of Turn 4 and collected Kyle Busch.

            Kahne led a total of 158 laps, including the final 30, as he beat Jimmie Johnson by 2.114 seconds. The race featured 37 lead changes.

            The driver from Enumclaw, Washington, added Coca-Cola 600 victories in 2008 and 2012 before stepping away from NASCAR racing following the 2018 season.

 

Casey Mears

Bakersfield, California

            2007 – Executing a fuel-mileage gamble orchestrated by crew chief Darian Grubb, Casey Mears stretched his final tank of gas to the absolute limit as the native of Bakersfield, California, claimed his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in the 48th running of the Coca-Cola 600.

            Driving the No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Mears inherited the lead on lap 395 when Denny Hamlin was the last of the contenders to make a green flag pit stop for a splash of gas.

            Mears slowed his pace during the closing laps but still beat J.J. Yeley to the checkered flag by more than nine seconds.

 

David Reutimann

Zephyrhills, Florida

            2009 – Second-generation driver David Reutimann scored the biggest victory of his racing career when he won the rain-plagued 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Postponed until Monday afternoon due to rain, the milestone event continued to battle weather issues through the first 300 miles.

            Reutimann, driving the No. 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, inherited the lead when his team opted not to pit during a caution period for rain on lap 221. The red flag was waved six laps later when the moisture increased.

            NASCAR officials eventually threw in the towel, and Reutimann earned the victory without leading a green flag lap.

 

Kurt Busch

Las Vegas, Nevada

            2010 – Kurt Busch finally conquered the Coca-Cola 600 as the Las Vegas native led 252 laps en route to victory in the 2010 edition of NASCAR’s longest race.

            With new crew chief Steve Addington calling the shots from atop the pit box, Busch took the lead for the final time on a lap 382 restart and the driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Dodge never looked back, beating Jamie McMurray to the checkered flag by .737 seconds.

            The victory came in Busch’s 10th Coca-Cola 600 start and it marked the first time he had finished the event among the top 10.

 

Kevin Harvick

Bakersfield, California

            2011, 2013 – The 2011 Coca-Cola 600 featured one of the most dramatic finishes in the race’s 52-year history.

            Kevin Harvick, driving Richard Childress Racing’s No. 29 Chevrolet, wasn’t a factor throughout much of the 600 miles, but the California native found himself in the right place at the right time.

            Surprisingly, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas on the backstretch while leading during the final lap of a green-white-checker finish. The fans were shocked when Earnhardt Jr. unexpectedly slowed. They were certain he was going to bring his 104-race win drought to an end.

            Harvick notched a second Coca-Cola 600 victory two years later.

 

Carl Edwards

Columbia, Missouri

            2015 – Carl Edwards played the fuel-mileage game to perfection and scored an upset victory during the 56th running of the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

            Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin dominated much of the race, leading 302 of the 400 laps. But it was a late-race fuel-mileage gamble by crew chief Darian Grubb that resulted in Edwards running the last 62 laps without pitting.

            Edwards, driving the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, led the final 21 laps and beat Greg Biffle to the checkered flag by 4.785 seconds as the top-four finishers utilized a similar fuel strategy.

 

Martin Truex Jr.

Mayetta, New Jersey

            2016, 2019 – Martin Truex Jr. blazed a record-breaking trail en route to his first Coca-Cola 600 triumph in 2016.

            The Mayetta, New Jersey, driver set multiple milestones in his romp to victory. He led a track-record 392 of 400 laps and 588 miles, more than any driver in NASCAR history, and completed the event in 3 hours, 44 minutes and 8 seconds at an average speed of 160.644 mph – both Charlotte Motor Speedway records.

            “Everybody believed in me and made the opportunity possible,” Truex said. “My guys are something special. I’ve got to thank them; it was a big day.”

            Truex added a second Coca-Cola 600 victory in 2019.

 

Austin Dillon

Welcome, North Carolina

            2017 – In a Coca-Cola 600 that extended into Monday morning at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Austin Dillon stretched his fuel mileage just enough to capture his first NASCAR Cup Series victory.

            Dillon saved enough fuel to go the distance and score the first win for Richard Childress Racing’s iconic No. 3 Chevrolet since Dale Earnhardt won in October 2000.

            The strategic move – championed by new crew chief Justin Alexander – put the fourth-year driver in position to win when Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on lap 399. Dillon was the only driver in the top five not to pit over the final 60 laps.

 

Kyle Busch

Las Vegas, Nevada

            2018 – Kyle Busch recorded his first NASCAR Cup Series points victory at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver did it in dominating and historic fashion in the Coca-Cola 600.

            Busch became the first driver in NASCAR’s modern era to win a points-paying race at every active premier series track.

            He claimed the pole and led a race-high 378 of 400 laps in winning all four stages. Busch comfortably led the final 50 laps and beat Martin Truex Jr. to the finish line by 3.823 seconds for his 16th career points-paying win at Charlotte across NASCAR's three national series.

 

Brad Keselowski

Rochester Hills, Michigan

            2020 – NASCAR's longest race came down to less than three miles as 2012 Cup Series champion Brad Keselowski needed overtime to record the first Coca-Cola 600 victory of his career.

            Hendrick Motorsports seemed to have the cars to beat. Alex Bowman led a race-high 164 laps early, and Chase Elliott seemingly had the race in hand with just two circuits remaining. But a spin by William Byron brought out the night's final caution flag and ultimately ended the team’s chance at victory.

            Opting to pit before the final restart, Elliott fell out of contention, restarting 11th and leaving Keselowski to battle Jimmie Johnson for the victory.