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With late pass, Jimmie Johnson captures Coca-Cola 600

By Bob Moore
The Sports Xchange

May 25. 2014 11:08PM
Jimmie Johnson (48) celebrates in victory lane after winning the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday night. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

CONCORD, N.C. -- Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson passed Matt Kenseth with eight laps remaining in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 to earn his first win of the year and his record-setting seventh at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Jeff Gordon and Kenseth decided not to pit when the yellow flag was waved on lap 379 for the eighth time, and Kenseth quickly grabbed the lead on the restart with 16 laps to go.

Two laps later, Johnson got around Gordon. Kenseth tried to block Johnson, but Johnson gave Kenseth a little bump as he dived below Kenseth to grab the top spot.

Kevin Harvick passed Kenseth with just over a lap to go to finish second.

Carl Edwards came in fourth, followed by Jamie McMurray, Brian Vickers, Gordon, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.

Johnson led a record 163 of the 400 laps in recording the 67th win of his illustrious career.

Kenseth was the leader with a 100 laps to go, followed by Johnson, Joey Logano, Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, Gordon, Vickers, McMurray and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kevin Harvick and pole-sitter Johnson dominated the first half of the race, with Harvick leading at the midway point by 2.7 seconds over Johnson.

The secondary plot to the actual race Sunday night was the unsuccessful attempt of Kurt Busch to complete the "double" -- finishing all 1,100 miles of the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

Kurt Busch never competed in an IndyCar race before Sunday, but you would never have known that from his sixth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500.

Ninety-three minutes later, he landed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in plenty of time for the start of the NASCAR event.

Kurt Busch had to start at the back of the 43-car field after missing the driver's meeting. His hopes of running all 600 miles took a hit when he fell a lap down before the race was 50 laps old as Johnson set a torrid pace as led 72 of the first 75 laps before Harvick moved to the top spot.

Busch's long day of racing ended on lap 272 when he suffered engine failure.

"Kinda of a shame, the way we were crawling our way up," Busch said after 906 miles of racing. "Day I'll never forget.

"I gave it my all. The Haas Automation boys gave me a great car. Just blew up."

He finished in 40th place at Charlotte.

The first caution flag of the race occurred on lap 105 for debris in turn three. Kurt Busch's crew used the opportunity to get their driver back on the lead lap by using the wave-around that vaulted Busch to 19th, the last driver on the lead lap.

Kurt Busch was running 13th at the halfway mark of the 400-lap event.

Only one driver, NASCAR teammate Tony Stewart, was able to complete all 1,100 miles of the "double." Stewart accomplished the feat in 2001, finishing sixth in the 500 and third in the 600. Only four drivers have attempted the feat. John Andretti and Robby Gordon are the other two.

Before the start of the 600, Kurt Busch said, "I feel great -- the energy from running the race and the adrenalin -- I have to focus on what is happening now, and that's 600 miles. I'm really happy with the finish up there. The Andretti guys were incredible on leading me through the race. All in all, I couldn't have asked anymore."

Busch added, "I do like it enough to do it again, but I have a job to do now, like I need to ignore the 500 miles I just did."

Busch started 12th at Indianapolis and played it very conservatively early as he was running 17th at the halfway point of the 500. He moved into the top 10 with 52 laps to go.

He had a real close call with only eight laps remaining when Townsend Bell, running fifth, spun and slammed into the second-turn wall. Busch had to do low to miss Bell as he came back across the track.

Andretti teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay won the 500, with former NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya finishing fifth.

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