CONCORD, N.C. – Kevin Harvick isn’t done surprising people at Charlotte Motor Speedway or Richard Childress Racing.
Closing a bizarre night in NASCAR’s longest event, Harvick pulled away from Kasey Kahne on a restart Sunday with 11 laps left to win the Coca-Cola 600 for the second time in three seasons.
The race was stopped nearly 30 minutes at one point when a TV camera support rope snapped and landed on the track and in the grandstands. There were 10 people hurt, according to Charlotte Motor Speedway. Three were taken to hospitals, and have been treated and released.
It’s Harvick’s final season at RCR – the only team he’s known since filling the seat of the late Dale Earnhardt in 2001 – before he switches to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
Harvick’s already shown with a victory at Richmond this year he wouldn’t coast through the year and proved that again as he made it through the broken rope, several crashes and Kahne’s dominant machine that led a race-high 156 laps.
There was no other course for Harvick than giving his all, saying he and Childress “have really focused on what’s most important for our sponsors and the guys on this team and this organization.”
Harvick’s pulled off an unlikely win here in 2011, sweeping past an out-of-fuel Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final lap. “Last race (2011) we came off turn two in third and by the time we got to the start-finish line we had won the race,” he said.
“It was one of those nights,” he said, “where you have to grind it out and keep yourself on the lead lap.”
Especially when you don’t know what you’ll face.
The race stopped suddenly a little over a quarter of the way into the long event after the nylon rope snapped in the first turn. The cars were brought into the pits and cleanup crews coiled up the long sections of rope as if they were putting away a garden hose. Drivers were allowed back to their pit stalls and crews given 15 minutes to assess and fix damage caused by the failure.
Fox Sports announcer Chris Myers apologized to fans and drivers several times for the delay and problems.
In a statement, Fox said it had suspended use of the overhead camera indefinitely. It said drive rope that moves the camera back and forth failed and it had no immediate reason why.
“A full investigation is planned,” the statement said.
Harvick couldn’t believe he’d seen the cable along the track and did his best to avoid problems. And Harvick wasn’t the only one surprised.
“I came off turn four,” Kahne said, “and I saw it wrapped around Kyle’s car and it hit mine and I thought I had to be seeing things because there’s no way there could be a cable on the race track.”
Kahne finished second, Kurt Busch third and polesitter Denny Hamlin was fourth in his second race since returning from injury.