Monday, May 28, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Coca-Cola 600 race recap

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
After finally getting their 200th win at Darlington two weeks ago, Hendrick Motorsports has been riding on a high headed into the Coca-Cola 600. With Jimmie Johnson winning the All-Star Race, would Hendrick Motorsports sweep the Charlotte race weekends?

Kasey Kahne, No. 5

Kasey Kahne marked a milestone career moment with the Coca-Cola 600 as his 300th start. He has won two previous 600 races.

Kahne stayed inside the top 10 all night; the No. 5 Chevy was a rocket from the drop of the green flag.
On Lap 280 Kahne passed Greg Biffle for the lead and with the race winding down, Kahne ran away from the pack.

Finally, after what appeared to be a bad season for the No. 5 team, things are suddenly looking up. Getting his first win with Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne tasted victory and gave Hendrick their 201th win! That win is a needed boost for Kahne, who now is 15th in the points.

 “It feels really good,” Kahne said on getting his first win with Hendrick Motorsports. “It’s so special and awesome to drive for Rick and Linda Hendrick. For them to make me part of their company, it’s unbelievable. Our Hendrick engine was awesome. I had a brand new car that so many people put a lot of effort into.”

 Jeff Gordon, No. 24

For Jeff Gordon, starting in the back (23rd) wouldn't make for an easy 600 miles at Charlotte, but
he quickly showed that starting in the back wasn't too much of an issue for his No. 24 car, becoming the biggest mover early in the race. By Lap 100 he was running in ninth. During green flag stops Gordon elected to stay out and went on to lead at Lap 136. By the time it got to 50 to go, he was running inside the top 10 looking to finally have the right adjustments. Needing a good finish after a string of bad luck, Gordon finished his night in seventh, and now ranks 22nd in the points.

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48

Jimmie Johnson has just been living it up! Claiming the 200th win for Hendrick Motorsports at Darlington, then going on to win the All-Star Race, Johnson is on fire!

Starting third, Johnson's lucky streak looked as if it were about to continue. As the green flag waved, Johnson was quick to battle for position. By Lap 2 he was battling Greg Biffle for second.

Johnson’s night went pretty uneventful from there, staying in the top five for most of the evening. until on Lap 354 during green flag stops Johnson drove off with the gas can (and gas can man) still attached, causing him to have to do a stop-and-go penalty. Johnson wouldn’t recover and ended his night on a sour note. Hoping to keep his winning streak going, finishing 11th wasn’t what the No. 48 crew wanted at the track dubbed "Jimmie's house." Johnson now ranks fifth in the points as we head to Dover.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., No 88

With winning last week's Sprint Showdown during the All Star Race, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is hungrier then ever for a win.

Starting 12th, Earnhardt Jr  right away radioed to crew chief Steve Letarte that his car was too tight, which would be his issue for most of the race. He continued to battle an ill-handling No. 88, but was still was able to gain positions.

On Lap 318 the caution came out and Earnhardt Jr’s car finally came to life. Letarte elected to stay out. On Lap 325, the final restart of the evening, the No. 88 was quick to battle for the lead but just couldn't quite get it. From the decision to forego pitting, Earnhardt Jr. was able to stay pretty close to leaders until he made his final green flag pit stop of the night. Finishing sixth may not have been the No. 88 Dew Crew's goal, but it sure adds fuel to the team's ever-burning fire. With the finish on Sunday, Earnhardt Jr. now ranks fourth in the point standings.

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