2009 Coca-Cola 600
|Race 12 of 36 in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||May 25, 2009|
|Location||Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.5 mi (2.4 km)
|Distance||227 laps, 340.5 mi (547.981 km)|
|Scheduled Distance||400 laps, 600 mi (965.606 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures reaching up to 80.1 °F (26.7 °C); wind speeds approaching 15.9 miles per hour (25.6 km/h)|
|Driver||Ryan Newman||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Kyle Busch||Joe Gibbs Racing|
||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds|
The 2009 Coca-Cola 600, the longest race of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup season in terms of distance, was the twelfth race of the thirty-six race season. It was also the 50th running of the race, and in celebration thereof Lowe's Motor Speedway painted the outside retaining walls gold. This 600 miles (970 km) race was originally scheduled to be held on May 24, 2009 at 5:30 PM US EDT at the 1.5 miles (2.4 km) Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Charlotte, North Carolina suburb of Concord. However, an evening-long rain postponed the event until 12 noon US EDT May 25. Fox televised and radio was handled by Performance Racing Network (over-the-air) and Sirius XM Radio (satellite).
The race was the shortest Coca-Cola 600 in history by distance, running only 227 laps.
David Reutimann won his first race in the Sprint Cup Series. It was also the first win for Michael Waltrip Racing in the Sprint Cup Series and the first for Michael Waltrip as an owner. This was the first win for a car with the number 00 in Sprint Cup history and the first win for Toyota at Lowe's Motor Speedway in the Cup series. Also, due to the rainout, this marked the first time the actual race was held on Memorial Day.
Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch started at the front row followed by Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin in the second row, and Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne in the third row. Newman decided to start the race from the outside, switching positions with Kyle Busch.
At 12:12pm EDT, the green flag waved marking the start of the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600.
After lap 1, Ryan Newman led the first lap with Kyle Busch in second and Mark Martin in third. Two laps later, Kyle Busch took the lead from Newman out of turn 4. On lap 7, the caution flag was waved for light rain. Before the caution, Brian Vickers was in fifth place after starting in eighth and Denny Hamlin was in eighth after starting in thirteenth place. Dale Earnhardt, Jr., starting in 27th, was in 31st place. Eleven drivers entered pit road. Among them were Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, and Matt Kenseth.
For the restart on lap 12, Kyle Busch was in first followed by Newman, Martin, Kahne, and Vickers. Shortly after, Harvick and Sam Hornish, Jr. made contact on the backstretch. On lap 17, Harvick made contact with the outside wall entering turn 1 causing damage to his car and bringing out a caution. Kyle Busch reported an electrical fire problem with his car.
On lap 19, the race restarted, with Kyle Busch, Newman, Martin, Kahne, and Gordon in the top five. By lap 35, Kyle Busch had opened a two-second lead over second place Mark Martin. Tony Stewart, starting in 28th, was in 15th. During the pit stops on lap 42 after a competition caution, Johnson exited in first place (gained sixteen positions), followed by Kyle Busch and Martin. Newman had to come back to pit road for a lugnut replacement. Mike Bliss drove his car to the garage.
The restart was on lap 45 with Johnson, Kyle Busch, Martin, Kurt Busch, and Denny Hamlin in the top five. On lap 51, Kyle Busch regained the lead from Johnson with Martin in second. By lap 55, Johnson, with a loose car, had fallen to the sixth position. Rain returned by lap 71, resulting in yet another caution. On the pit stops that followed, Carl Edwards gained ten positions, Jamie McMurray gained sixteen spots, Reutiman gained seven spots, and Martin Truex, Jr. gained thirteen positions. Vickers lost six spots. The crew of Mark Martin lost a tire from their pitbox resulting in a penalty for Martin. Robby Gordon stayed out and led a lap. Waltrip and Scott Riggs also stayed out. Approximately 55 minutes after the start of the race, the red flag was waved on lap 74 for rain. Robby Gordon, Waltrip, Riggs, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Reutimann, McMurray, Joey Logano, Kahne, and Juan Pablo Montoya made up the top ten at that time.
This red flag period lasted 54 minutes before caution laps resumed. Robby Gordon, Waltrip, and Riggs made pit stops under the caution. Each of the three had a led at least a lap. The restart on lap 79 with Kyle Busch, Edwards, Reutimann, McMurray, and Logano in the top five. Martin was served a penalty from the last pit stop and dropped to 37th place. By lap 87, Kyle Busch opened a two-second lead over second place Reutimann. On lap 93, McMurray dropped from fourth to 10th and Reutimann fell two spots from second after making contact with the outside wall of turn 4. Meanwhile, Dale Earnhardt Jr. continued to fight an ill-handling car and on lap 111, leader Kyle Busch placed Earnhardt, Jr. a lap down. On lap 120, Vickers took the lead from Kyle Busch. As of lap 122, Joe Nemechek, Waltrip, Harvick, and Max Papis, running 38th through 41st respectively, were a lap down. Green flag pit stops began at that point. On lap 129, Montoya took second from Kyle Busch. Logano led lap 131. Reutimann and David Gilliland were deemed too fast on pit road and served penalties. Meanwhile, Dave Blaney led two laps under green flag pit stops. Blaney's stop on lap 134 ended the cycle and Kyle Busch regained the lead, followed by Vickers, Montoya, Kahne, and Johnson. Vickers took the lead on lap 146, and by lap 161, he had opened a 2.2 second lead over Montoya.
Historic moment of silence
On lap 163, race officials threw the red caution flag, and ordered the cars to shut down the engines on the front stretch for a moment of silence in honor of those who died in the service of America's military. This moment took place at 3:00 pm EDT; the time was chosen because it coincides with that traditionally set aside by American tradition on Memorial Day. Members of pit crews and fans stood in observance, while drivers quietly reflected by their cars. Although this moment was not originally planned - and indeed would not have occurred if the race had not been postponed the day before - it reportedly met with praise from drivers, crews and fans.
Pit stops and resumption of race
During the pit stops, Edwards gained six spots, Jeff Gordon gained twelve spots, Montoya lost three positions, and Vickers lost nine spots. Rain came and delayed the waving of the green flag. On lap 177, the red flag was waved for rain for the second time in the race three hours and eight minutes since the start. Kyle Busch, Kahne, Johnson, Edwards, Montoya, Logano, Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Hamlin, and Vickers are in the top ten when the red flag waved.
The field restarted on lap 180 at 3:42 p.m. EDT. Twenty six cars were on the lead lap as they took the green flag. On lap 182, Logano took fifth from Montoya and Johnson took second from Kahne. Seven laps later, Montoya, running in 7th, reported his car has tighten up. Kurt Busch, running in 15th, entered pit road for a two tire change on lap 193 because of vibrations. Kurt Busch re-entered the race in 38th, one lap down. On lap 208, seven laps after halfway, Kyle Busch had a 2.4 second lead over Kasey Kahne. Kyle's brother, Kurt, advanced four spots from 38th since the pitstop for vibrations. On lap 213, Kenseth, running in 7th, reported his car has tightened up.
Eight laps later, rain hit the track again and forced another yellow flag for rain. On the ensuing stops, Edwards gained two spots, Vickers five spots, and Labonte seven spots. Johnson lost four spots. Reutimann, Newman, and Robby Gordon stayed on the track.
On lap 227, third red flag of the race was waved with Reutimann, Newman, Robby Gordon, Edwards, Vickers, Kyle Busch, Kahne, Montoya, Logano, and Kenseth in the top ten. Hours later the race was called official giving Reutimann his first Cup series win in 76 starts. Newman, the polesitter, finished in second in his Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Robby Gordon finished third, his first top 5 finish since the 2007 Watkins Glen race Carl Edwards had the highest finishing Ford in fourth place. Kyle Busch had led the most laps (173), finished sixth. Kasey Kahne, the defending winner, had the highest finishing Dodge in seventh. Rookie Joey Logano finished ninth. Bill Elliott, in his 800 career start, finished 15th. Marcos Ambrose, the last driver on the lead lap, came in 26th.
|Top Ten Finishers|
|1||00||David Reutimann||Toyota||Michael Waltrip Racing|
|2||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Stewart-Haas Racing|
|3||7||Robby Gordon||Toyota||Robby Gordon Motorsports|
|4||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Roush Fenway Racing|
|5||83||Brian Vickers||Toyota||Red Bull Racing Team|
|6||18||Kyle Busch||Toyota||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|7||9||Kasey Kahne||Dodge||Richard Petty Motorsports|
|8||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevrolet||Earnhardt Ganassi Racing|
|9||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|10||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Roush Fenway Racing|