From Lap 1 to Lap 400, Sunday Night at Charlotte belonged solely to Jimmie Johnson. Johnson and his No. 48 team dominated as they perfectly executed a game plan in route to their first victory of the year.
Rarely does this team go too far into the season without scoring a victory. However, the team wasn’t fazed by the somewhat slow start. This was demonstrated in the race as Johnson once again proved why he’s a six-time champion.
Throughout the race, it was typically one of three drivers leading the field. Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Matt Kenseth all had fast cars and found themselves leading for large portions of the event.
Harvick was first to take the top spot away from Johnson on Lap 76. He maintained the lead until the ensuing restart after the second caution when Johnson soared back by.
Brad Keselowski was another driver who stuck his nose out front at different points in the race as he and Paul Wolfe worked out a different pit strategy. The strategy was successful in getting the No. 2 car out front; however it did not work out in their favor at the end as they placed tenth at the end of the night.
Unlike last year’s Coca-Cola 600, only one multi-car incident occurred throughout the race. On Lap 235, Marcos Ambrose spun off turn 4. As drivers attempted to slow and avoid the accident, Josh Wise came in hot and hit the back of Landon Cassill which started a chain reaction. Brian Scott and Danica Patrick were also involved.
Kenseth made his way to the top spot on Lap 271. He was able to hold the position for a majority of the race’s second half.
Kurt Busch’s attempt at the Indianapolis-Charlotte double was going fine until Lap 273. Busch had placed sixth in the Indianapolis 500 earlier, but would finish 40th in Charlotte after blowing his engine 906 miles into his attempt at completing 1,100 throughout the day.
Despite the disappointing end, Busch was upbeat and satisfied about the day as a whole. “A day I’ll never forget” was how Busch described his attempt at the double to FOX.
The eighth and final caution of the night came with 22 laps remaining. Jeff Gordon was the leader on the ensuing restart; however Kenseth would quickly regain the spot.
Johnson made the winning move with eight laps to go when he passed Kenseth. He then cruised to victory as he frequently did prior to the repave of the track in 2006.
Harvick came home second after being a threat early on. Kenseth couldn’t get the job done and ended up third. He still has yet to score a victory in 2014.
NASCAR’s two home weeks concluded with the waving of the checkered flag. Now, all three series head to Delaware for a battle with the Monster Mile at Dover next weekend.
Results via ESPN.com
|19||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||88||Chevrolet||398||10||13||26||1||0|
|25||Martin Truex Jr.||78||Chevrolet||398||15||0||19||0||0|
|26||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||17||Ford||397||23||0||18||0||0|