This 600 was fast and efficient
Monday, May. 28, 2012
CONCORD If you go to a movie and its OK but not great, you should always appreciate if the director cut it to 90 minutes instead of leaving it at twice that length. You get a good start, you get a decent finish and you get home at a reasonable time.
That was much like the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night, won by Kasey Kahne.
It wasnt the best 600-miler in the races 53-year history, but it was absolutely the fastest. It took only three hours and a shade over 51 minutes for Kahne to drive 600 miles, motoring along at an average speed of 155.687 mph.
That would be like you taking off from Charlotte at 5 p.m. today and arriving at Tampa, Fla., before 9 p.m. Unless youre taking a direct flight, thats tough to do.
The weather Sunday night was beautiful, if a bit sticky. The pre-race entertainment was very good. But if you came to Charlotte Motor Speedway to see wrecks Sunday and lets face it, thats often part of any racing show you were completely out of luck.
There were only five caution flags, and four of them were for debris on the track. The fifth was for a single-car crash. That was it.
Two of the most interesting moments, in fact, came on pit road.
Tony Stewart got bumped by Brad Keselowski, sending him completely backwards. Stewart then made a bizarre Dukes of Hazzard type reverse turn to enter his pit stall correctly.
And Jimmie Johnson left his pit stall with a fuel can still in his No.48 Chevrolet the person trying to yank the can out fell down hard as Johnson drove away and was penalized. Johnson finished 11th because of that. Team owner Rick Hendrick said he thought Johnson would have been second to Kahne (Johnsons Hendrick Motorsports teammate) except for that penalty.
What this race mostly had was long stretches of green-flag racing, where the cars spread out and mostly drove safely. It was clean, relatively uninteresting racing for long stretches.
Drivers so obviously race for points now. The current NASCAR system is incorrectly set up that way, so that winning a race doesnt really do you that much good compared to finishing second. But crashing while trying to win and finishing 30th does a whole lot of harm.
You get caught up in a wreck or something happens to you, it can take you 10 weeks to make it back up if you make it back up, said Kyle Busch, who finished third Sunday night.
The victory prompting Darrell Waltrips biblical pun on the Fox telecast when Kahne took the checkered flag: Kahne was able tonight.
As long as you are enough of a NASCAR fan to know that Kahne is pronounced Cane, you can then appreciate all those who trotted out the puns from 2006 and 2008, too, when Kahne won three races at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Then Kahne was frequently raised, or else he was compared to candy.
Kahne hadnt won for Hendrick before. But this wasnt a huge surprise since he had finished in the top 10 for the past five weeks in a row.
Kahne got it done, and he got it done quickly in time for everybody to make last call, as second-place finisher Denny Hamlin cracked. It wasnt a very dramatic win, but it was hard to beat its efficiency.