Ah, the racing world may rest easy, and haters can light their torches.
Jimmie Johnson dominated at Charlotte Motor Speedway to win the Coca Cola 600 Sunday night. It was the first win of 2014 for the No. 48 team and the third for Hendrick Motorsports.
Johnson qualified on the pole and raced without a flaw, the ideal form of consistency. He was the last driver to win from the pole, a feat he accomplished in 2004. A whole decade later, the six-time champion proved he had a handle on the track.
“It’s great to win . . .but all that hype [about not winning] was elsewhere,” Johnson said in victory lane. “The clean air was key. Once we got our handling down, we were set.”
When asked if the field needed to worry, Johnson responded: “They know we’re awake. We can get [the other competitors] thinking about us.”
Second place went to Kevin Harvick, who’s car was solid but dismantled by multiple issues on pit road. There’s no doubt the No. 4 team will be a championship contender, the lone strength at a crumbling Stewart-Haas Racing.
Other notable stories include Kurt Busch, who attempted The Double. Running both the Indy 500 and the Coca Cola 600 has been done before, yet Busch was the first to try it in a long time. After finishing sixth at Indianapolis, the “Outlaw” suffered an engine failure, completing 906 of the 1100 scheduled miles. However, the performance was still admirable, and NASCAR fans everywhere are proud of Busch and his attempt. He and teammate Danica Patrick had difficult nights. Another SHR driver, Patrick started fourth and started out strong before falling back. Her night was capped off with an expired motor. The organization receives their engines from Hendrick, and the alliance may need further investigation. Jeff Gordon held onto seventh, impressive after suffering back spasms earlier in the weekend. Gordon sat our Happy Hour practice to rest up, and driver Regan Smith was on stand-by in case more issues came up. The four-time champion held out and put on quite a show.
Throughout the night, one car seemed the strongest and maintained that strength the entire night. The Coca Cola 600 is a race of endurance, and the one who endured the most won. Jimmie Johnson claimed the trophy, assuring people that he’s still around and still winning.
Point standings after the Coca Cola 600
1. Jeff Gordon (–)
2. Matt Kenseth (-11)
3. Kyle Busch (-24)
3. Carl Edwards (-24)
5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-38)
6. Jimmie Johnson (-44)
7. Joey Logano (-54)
8. Brian Vickers (-67)
9. Brad Keselowski (-71)
9. Ryan Newman (-71)
11. Greg Biffle (-81)
12. Kevin Harvick (-87)
13. Kyle Larson (-88)
14. Denny Hamlin (-92)
15. Austin Dillon (-98)
16. Paul Menard (-104)