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NASCAR - Sprint Cup - Coca-Cola 600 Preview

From The Sports Network

 
DATE: Sunday, May 27th
SITE: Charlotte Motor Speedway (1960) -- Concord, North Carolina
TRACK: 1.5-mile oval - 1,980 feet (Frontstretch); 1,500 feet (Backstretch)
CAPACITY: 171,000 (Grandstand Seating)
ANNUAL: 53rd
TELEVISION: FOX
ANNOUNCERS: Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds
RADIO: Performance Racing Network (PRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Radio
START TIME: 6 p.m. (ET)/Green Flag: 6:19 p.m. (ET)
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Kevin Harvick
RUNNER-UP: David Ragan
POLE WINNER: Brad Keselowski (Finished 19th)
LAPS: 400
MILES: 600
QUALIFYING RECORD: Elliott Sadler, 2005 (193.216 m.p.h.)
RACE RECORD: Bobby Labonte, 1995 (151.952 m.p.h.)
TOTAL PURSE: $6,412,212 (2011 figures)
PAYOUTS: 1st Place - $406,786; 2nd Place - $244,375; 3rd Place - $194,475
 
2011 Finish
FinishDriverStartFinishDriverStart
1Kevin Harvick286Marcos Ambrose24
2David Ragan87Dale Earnhardt Jr25
3Joey Logano238Regan Smith20
4Kurt Busch269David Reutimann7
5A.J. Allmendinger210Denny Hamlin4
2011 Coca-Cola 600 Facts and Figures
AVERAGE SPEED: 132.414 m.p.h.
TIME OF RACE: 4 hours, 33 minutes, 14 seconds
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.703 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 14 for 64 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 38 among 19 drivers
POLE WINNER: Brad Keselowski (192.089 m.p.h.)
Past Coca-Cola 600 Winners (Starting Position) Car -- Speed
2011 -- Kevin Harvick (28th) -- Chevrolet -- 132.414 m.p.h.
2010 -- Kurt Busch (2nd) -- Dodge -- 144.966 m.p.h.
2009 -- David Reutimann (21st) -- Toyota -- 120.899 m.p.h.
2008 -- Kasey Kahne (2nd) -- Dodge -- 135.772 m.p.h.
2007 -- Casey Mears (16th) -- Chevrolet -- 130.222 m.p.h.
2006 -- Kasey Kahne (9th) -- Dodge -- 128.840 m.p.h.
2005 -- Jimmie Johnson (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 114.698 m.p.h.
2004 -- Jimmie Johnson (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 142.763 m.p.h.
2003 -- Jimmie Johnson (37th) -- Chevrolet -- 126.198 m.p.h.
2002 -- Mark Martin (25th) -- Ford -- 137.729 m.p.h.
2001 -- Jeff Burton (18th) -- Ford -- 138.107 m.p.h.
2000 -- Matt Kenseth (21st) -- Ford -- 142.640 m.p.h.
1999 -- Jeff Burton (2nd) -- Ford -- 151.367 m.p.h.
1998 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 136.424 m.p.h.
1997 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 136.745 m.p.h.
1996 -- Dale Jarrett (15th) -- Ford -- 147.581 m.p.h.
1995 -- Bobby Labonte (2nd) -- Chevrolet -- 151.952 m.p.h. (race record)
1994 -- Jeff Gordon (1st) -- Chevrolet -- 139.445 m.p.h.
1993 -- Dale Earnhardt (14th) -- Chevrolet -- 145.504 m.p.h.
1992 -- Dale Earnhardt (13th) -- Chevrolet -- 132.980 m.p.h.
1991 -- Davey Allison (10th) -- Ford -- 138.951 m.p.h.
1990 -- Rusty Wallace (9th) -- Pontiac -- 137.650 m.p.h.
1989 -- Darrell Waltrip (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 144.077 m.p.h.
1988 -- Darrell Waltrip (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 124.460 m.p.h.
1987 -- Kyle Petty (7th) -- Ford -- 131.483 m.p.h.
1986 -- Dale Earnhardt (3rd) -- Chevrolet -- 140.406 m.p.h.
1985 -- Darrell Waltrip (4th) -- Chevrolet -- 141.807 m.p.h.
1984 -- Bobby Allison (16th) -- Buick -- 129.233 m.p.h.
1983 -- Neil Bonnett (5th) -- Chevrolet -- 140.707 m.p.h.
1982 -- Neil Bonnett (13th) -- Ford -- 130.058 m.p.h.
1981 -- Bobby Allison (7th) -- Buick -- 129.326 m.p.h.
1980 -- Benny Parsons (6th) -- Chevrolet -- 119.265 m.p.h.
1979 -- Darrell Waltrip (3rd) -- Chevrolet -- 136.674 m.p.h.
1978 -- Darrell Waltrip (17th) -- Chevrolet -- 138.355 m.p.h.
1977 -- Richard Petty (2nd) -- Dodge -- 137.676 m.p.h.
1976 -- David Pearson (1st) -- Mercury -- 137.352 m.p.h.
1975 -- Richard Petty (3rd) -- Dodge -- 145.327 m.p.h.
1974 -- David Pearson (1st) -- Mercury -- 135.720 m.p.h.
1973 -- Buddy Baker (1st) -- Dodge -- 134.890 m.p.h.
1972 -- Buddy Baker (6th) -- Dodge -- 142.255 m.p.h.
1971 -- Bobby Allison (2nd) -- Mercury -- 140.422 m.p.h.
1970 -- Donnie Allison (9th) -- Ford -- 129.680 m.p.h.
1969 -- LeeRoy Yarborough (2nd) -- Mercury -- 134.361 m.p.h.
1968 -- Buddy Baker (12th) -- Dodge -- 104.207 m.p.h.
1967 -- Jim Paschal (10th) -- Plymouth -- 135.832 m.p.h.
1966 -- Marvin Panch (7th) -- Plymouth -- 135.042 m.p.h.
1965 -- Fred Lorenzen (1st) -- Ford -- 121.772 m.p.h.
1964 -- Jim Paschal (12th) -- Plymouth -- 125.772 m.p.h.
1963 -- Fred Lorenzen (2nd) -- Ford -- 132.418 m.p.h.
1962 -- Nelson Stacy (18tg) -- Ford -- 125.552 m.p.h.
1961 -- David Pearson (3rd) -- Pontiac -- 111.633 m.p.h.
1960 -- Joe Lee Johnson (20th) -- Chevrolet -- 107.735 m.p.h.
 
NOTE: Formerly called World 600 (1960-85).
 
Past Coca-Cola 600 Pole Winners (Finish)
2011 -- Brad Keselowski -- 19th
2010 -- Ryan Newman -- 9th
2009 -- Ryan Newman -- 2nd
2008 -- Kyle Busch -- 3rd
2007 -- Ryan Newman -- 39th
2006 -- Scott Riggs -- 13th
2005 -- Ryan Newman -- 5th
2004 -- Jimmie Johnson -- 1st
2003 -- Ryan Newman -- 5th
2002 -- Jimmie Johnson -- 7th
2001 -- Ryan Newman -- 43rd
2000 -- Dale Earnhardt Jr -- 4th
1999 -- Bobby Labonte -- 2nd
1998 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
1997 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
1996 -- Jeff Gordon -- 4th
1995 -- Jeff Gordon -- 33rd
1994 -- Jeff Gordon -- 1st
1993 -- Ken Schrader -- 4th
1992 -- Bill Elliott -- 14th
1991 -- Mark Martin -- 23rd
1990 -- Ken Schrader -- 11th
1989 -- Alan Kulwicki -- 23rd
1988 -- Davey Allison -- 5th
1987 -- Bill Elliott -- 23rd
1986 -- Geoffrey Bodine -- 31st
1985 -- Bill Elliott -- 18th
1984 -- Harry Gant -- 4th
1983 -- Buddy Baker -- 7th
1982 -- David Pearson -- 21st
1981 -- Neil Bonnett -- 29th
1980 -- Cale Yarborough -- 17th
1979 -- Neil Bonnett -- 25th
1978 -- David Pearson -- 5th
1977 -- David Pearson -- 2nd
1976 -- David Pearson -- 1st
1975 -- David Pearson -- 3rd
1974 -- David Pearson -- 1st
1973 -- Buddy Baker -- 1st
1972 -- Bobby Allison -- 2nd
1971 -- Charlie Glotzbach -- 28th
1970 -- Bobby Isaac -- 7th
1969 -- Donnie Allison -- 2nd
1968 -- Donnie Allison -- 2nd
1967 -- Cale Yarborough -- 41st
1966 -- Richard Petty -- 22nd
1965 -- Fred Lorenzen -- 1st
1964 -- Jimmy Pardue -- 24th
1963 -- Junior Johnson -- 2nd
1962 -- Fireball Roberts -- 9th
1961 -- Fred Lorenzen -- 5th
1960 -- Fireball Roberts -- 35th
Last Race Results
RACE: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (May 19th)
SITE: Charlotte Motor Speedway -- Concord, North Carolina
MILES: 135
LAPS: 90
WINNER: Jimmie Johnson
RUNNER-UP: Brad Keselowski
THIRD: Matt Kenseth
FOURTH: Kyle Busch
FIFTH: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
POLE WINNER: Kyle Busch (Finished 4th)
TIME OF RACE: 1 hour, 28 minutes
AVERAGE SPEED: 92.045 m.p.h.
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.841 second
CAUTION FLAGS: 6 for 10 laps
LEAD CHANGES: 7 among 7 drivers
LAP LEADERS: Kyle. Busch 1-14; J. Johnson 15-20; D. Hamlin 21-36; M. Kenseth
37-40; B. Keselowski 41-60; Kurt Busch 61-62; D. Earnhardt Jr.
63-80; J. Johnson 81-90.
Coca-Cola 600 Entry List
CarDriver, HometownCar/Name
1Jamie McMurray (Joplin, MO)Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops
2Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills, MI)Dodge/Miller Lite
5Kasey Kahne (Enumclaw, WA)Chevrolet/Quaker State
9Marcos Ambrose (Launceston, Australia)Ford/DeWalt
10Danica Patrick (Roscoe, IL)Chevrolet/GoDaddy.com
11Denny Hamlin (Chesterfield, VA)Toyota/FedEx Ground
13Casey Mears (Bakersfield, CA)Ford/GEICO
14Tony Stewart (Columbus, IN)Chevrolet/Office Depot/Mobil 1
15Clint Bowyer (Emporia, KS)Toyota/5-Hour Energy
16Greg Biffle (Vancouver, WA)Ford/Fastenal
17Matt Kenseth (Cambridge, WI)Ford/Fastenal
18Kyle Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Toyota/M&M's Red-White-Blue
19Mike Bliss (Milwaukie, OR)Toyota/Humphrey Smith Racing
20Joey Logano (Middletown, CT)Toyota/Dollar General
21Trevor Bayne (Knoxville, TN)Ford/Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire
22A.J. Allmendinger (Los Gatos, CA)Dodge/Shell/Pennzoil
23Scott Riggs (Bahama, NC)Chevrolet/North Texas Pipe
24Jeff Gordon (Vallejo, CA)Chevrolet/Drive to End Hunger
26Josh Wise (Riverside, CA)Ford/MDS Transport
27Paul Menard (Eau Claire, WI)Chevrolet/Menards/Serta
29 *Kevin Harvick (Bakersfield, CA)Chevrolet/Budweiser
30David Stremme (South Bend, IN)Toyota/Inception Motorsports
31Jeff Burton (South Boston, VA)Chevrolet/Wheaties
32T.J. Bell (Reno, VA)Ford/Green Smoke
33Stephen Leicht (Asheville, NC)Chevrolet/littlejoesautos.com
34David Ragan (Unadilla, GA)Ford/Al's Liners/Scorpion Coat.
36Dave Blaney (Hartford, OH)Chevrolet/Tommy Baldwin Racing
38David Gilliland (Riverside, CA)Ford/Mod Space
39Ryan Newman (South Bend, IN)Chevrolet/U.S. Army
42Juan Pablo Montoya (Bogota, Colombia)Chevrolet/Target
43Aric Almirola (Tampa, FL)Ford/U.S. Air Force
47Bobby Labonte (Corpus Christi, TX)Toyota/Kingsford Charcoal
48Jimmie Johnson (El Cajon, CA)Chevrolet/Lowe's Patriotic
49J.J. Yeley (Phoenix, AZ)Toyota/JPO Absorbents
51Kurt Busch (Las Vegas, NV)Chevrolet/Phoenix Construction
55Mark Martin (Batesville, AR)Toyota/Aaron's Armed Forces Foun
56Martin Truex Jr. (Mayetta, NJ)Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts
73David Reutimann (Zephyrhills, FL)Toyota/Burger King
74Cole Whitt (Alpine, CA)Chevrolet/Turn One Racing
78Regan Smith (Cato, NY)Chevrolet/Furniture Row
83Landon Cassill (Cedar Rapids, IA)Toyota/Burger King/Dr. Pepper
87Joe Nemechek (Lakeland, FL)Toyota/AM FM Energy Wood Pellet
88Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Kannapolis, NC)Chevrolet/Diet Mt. Dew/Nat Guard
93Travis Kvapil (Janesville, WI)Toyota/Burger King/Dr. Pepper
95Scott Speed (Manteca, CA)Ford/Jordan's Truck Sales
98Michael McDowell (Glendale, AZ)Ford/Presbyterian Healthcares
99Carl Edwards (Columbia, MO)Ford/Fastenal
 
* - defending champion.
 
Leading Contenders (Finish the last nine years)
Driver200320042005200620072008200920102011
Kevin Harvick13th23rd14th34th21st14th41st11thWon
David Ragan------------37th12th24th24th2nd
Joey Logano------------------9th13th3rd
Kurt Busch15th11th43rd39th32nd16th34thWon4th
A.J. Allmendinger------------31st20th32nd14th5th
Marcos Ambrose------------------26th36th6th
Dale Earnhardt Jr41st6th33rd11th8th5th40th22nd7th
Regan Smith---------------19th---19th8th
Denny Hamlin---------9th9th24th11th18th10th
Ricky Stenhouse Jr------------------------11th
Juan Pablo Montoya------------28th30th8th38th12th
Greg Biffle14th17th6th7th43rd2nd20th32nd13th
Matt Kenseth2nd3rd37th5th12th7th10th10th14th
Clint Bowyer---------19th29th25th36th7th15th
Carl Edwards------3rd3rd15th9th4th16th16th
Tony Stewart40th9th24th42nd6th18th19th15th17th
Brad Keselowski---------------------20th19th
Jeff Gordon8th30th30th36th41st4th14th6th20th
Jeff Burton18th22nd22nd6th24th6th25th25th21st
Kasey Kahne---12th26thWon23rdWon7th12th22nd
Martin Truex Jr------7th21st16th34th23rd23rd26th
Jimmie JohnsonWonWonWon2nd10th39th13th37th28th
Paul Menard---------14th---26th27th8th29th
Ryan Newman5th35th5th35th39th21st2nd9th31st
Kyle Busch---32nd25th38th30th3rd6th3rd32nd
Mark Martin29th36th28th4th11th15th17th4th34th
Jamie McMurray25th4th21st8th19th23rd21st2nd37th
 
Mover of the Week
Brad Keselowski - Started in the 19th position and finished 2nd
 
Sports Network Selections
Pick to Win - Dale Earnhardt Jr
Darkhorse - Joey Logano
 
Last Week's Pick to Win (Tony Stewart) - Finished 17th
Last Week's Darkhorse (Kyle Busch) - Finished 4th
 
NOTES:
Although Jimmie Johnson has steadily moved up the Sprint Cup point standings in recent weeks, there is no clear-cut favorite for this weekend's 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

That's because no one has dominated this race the past six years. In fact, Kurt Busch is the only driver in the previous two seasons with back-to-back top-10 finishes at Charlotte. Busch posted a win in 2010 and fourth last season.

Kasey Kahne and Johnson can possibly take exception to those numbers, as Kahne has two wins (2006, 08) and a seventh in that span, while Johnson won this race three consecutive seasons (2003-05) and was second in 2006. His stats recently at Charlotte are dismal at best, placing 39th, 13th, 37th and 28th the past four years. Johnson is coming off two consecutive wins (Darlington and all-star event).

Fuel strategy determined the outcome of last year's Coca-Cola 600, as Dale Earnhardt Jr ran out gas and Kevin Harvick didn't heading to the finish line.

Earnhardt Jr led the way on the final lap and saw the checkered flag in hand, but his hopes of ending his lengthy winless drought in the Sprint Cup Series came up short when his fuel ran out on the last turn. That allowed Harvick to drive past him and steal the win, in a race that took 4 hours and 33 minutes to complete. Earnhardt Jr has 18 career Sprint Cup win but has not driven to victory lane since June 2008 at Michigan (140 races ago).

In 11 starts this season, Earnhardt Jr has eight top-10's finishes, including two second-place runs. He won 40-lap Sprint Showdown (preliminary event to the all-star race).

Kurt Busch followed up his all-star race victory in 2010 by winning the Coca- Cola 600 -- NASCAR's longest race of the season. He led 252 of 400 laps but had to outrun a hard-charging Jamie McMurray in the final laps for the win.

McMurray held the lead late in the race, but a crash involving Marcos Ambrose with 24 laps remaining set up the last round of pit stops during the caution. Busch exited the pits first, followed by Matt Kenseth and McMurray, while Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and pole sitter Ryan Newman remained on the track and took the top-three positions. When the race resumed with 19 laps to go, Busch quickly passed Newman, Martin and then Gordon to take the lead for good. Busch won for the 22nd time in his Sprint Cup career, as he edged out McMurray by 0.737 of a second.

David Reutimann was in the right place at the right time, as he won the 2009 running of the Coca-Cola 600. After rain slowed the scheduled 600-mile event for the third time on lap 221, Reutimann and crew chief Rodney Childers gambled, as Reutimann remained on the track and inherited the lead, while the leaders came onto pit road. NASCAR halted the race on lap 227. Track officials attempted to dry the track, but persistent rain forced NASCAR to call the race, two hours after the red flag was displayed. It was the shortest 600 in the event's history. Reutimann, who led the final five laps, scored his first Sprint Cup Series victory in his 75th start. His previous career-best finish in the series was fourth, which came earlier that year at Las Vegas.

In 2008, Kasey Kahne joined the impressive list of multiple champions of this race, as he won his eighth career Sprint Cup title. Kahne, who titled here in 2006, led six times throughout the race, including the final three laps to defeat Greg Biffle by a whopping 10.203 seconds. Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Gordon are just some of the multiple winners of this race. Pole sitter Kyle Busch finished third, while Dale Earnhardt Jr led for a race-high 76 laps and placed fifth. Kahne's victory total now stands at 12.

Casey Mears led only six laps in 2007, but it was the final half dozen, as he recorded his first Sprint Cup title. Mears started 16th on the grid, but it wasn't until lap 395 that he took control and cruised to a 9.561 seconds win over J.J. Yeley. Kurt Busch was the dominant driver of the race, leading 107 laps, but he faded to 32nd after an accident. Pole sitter Ryan Newman led the first 10 laps, but failed to finish due to engine problems, placing 39th.

The first 600-mile race at Charlotte, the World 600, was held in 1960. It was billed as the "world's longest and most grueling late model stock car race." Not much has changed in the last 52 years. It's still the longest race on the circuit and certainly one of the toughest. This race has been traditionally held on Memorial Day weekend.

After two lackluster finishes, Kasey Kahne dominated this race in 2006, as he posted a 2.114 seconds win over Jimmie Johnson. Kahne, who doubled later in the year at this track, led for a race-high 158 laps on seven different occasions for his fourth career Sprint Cup title. Pole sitter Scott Riggs finished 13th after leading for 90 laps. Carl Edwards took the lead on lap 360, but Kahne reclaimed the advantage on the 371st lap and finished out the race, as Edwards placed third.

To win this event, is a true test of man and machine; to win two-in-a-row is a special accomplishment. The first driver to turn the trick was Buddy Baker. He won back-to-back 600s in 1972 and '73. Baker drove Dodges to both wins, wheeling a Petty Engineering Dodge in '72 and a Harry Hyde-prepared Dodge in '73. Darrell Waltrip next scored repeat wins in '78 and '79 while driving Chevrolets for the DiGard team. Popular Neil Bonnett won the 1982 Coca-Cola 600 in a Wood Brothers Ford and came back in a RahMoc Chevrolet to win in '83. Waltrip was a repeat winner for a second time in '88 and '89 but he was then driving Rick Hendrick-owned Chevrolets. Chevrolets accounted for the next two repeats with Richard Childress' driver Dale Earnhardt winning in 1992 and '93 and Jeff Gordon winning in '97 and '98 for Hendrick. Richard Petty holds the track record with 64 starts at Charlotte.

Of course, three-in-a-row is a remarkable feat. History was made in 2005 when Jimmie Johnson became the first driver to win three consecutive Coca-Cola 600s. Johnson, who edged Bobby Labonte by less than a second for the title, overtook Labonte on the final lap for his 17th career Sprint Cup win. Johnson, with one win this season, now has 56 career titles. In his career at this track, Johnson has six wins with 14 top-10 finishes. Johnson's average finish at CMS is 11.8 with 10 top-five's. Johnson was the last pole sitter to capture this race (2004) and the last pole sitter to win at CMS (2009). Johnson won the 2003 Coca-Cola 600 from the 37th starting position, the furthest back a race winner has started.

Jeff Gordon has raced at Charlotte Motor Speedway on 38 occasions, posting eight poles, five wins, 16 top-fives and a whopping 20 top-10 finishes. His average finish pales in comparison to Johnson at 15.9.

On Sunday, Johnson will try to become the first driver to win the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 twice in his career.

Only seven drivers have ever captured the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600 in the same season. Darrell Waltrip accomplished the feat in 1985, followed by Davey Allison (1991), Earnhardt Jr (1993), Gordon (1997), Johnson (2003), Kahne (2008) and Busch (2010).

Charlotte has hosted 106 Sprint Cup Series races, two per year since the track opened in 1960. There have been 13 back-to-back victories at Charlotte, including three in a row by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964-fall 1965). A sweep has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007.

Darius Rucker of Hootie & the Blowfish with sing the National Anthem, while actress Brooklyn Decker is the honorary race director.

The next Sprint Cup Series race is the June 3 FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway. Matt Kenseth is the defending race winner.

05/22 14:05:31 ET

As of May 22, 2012, at 02:05 PM ET

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