It is Memorial Day weekend and the longest race of year the Coca-Cola 600 awaits drivers at Lowes Motors Speedway. It is an all Dodge front row with Ryan Newman with the poll and Kurt Busch in second.
Jimmy Johnson when asked about his car he states that it has been loose.
The first 47 laps of the race went green. In those laps Ryan Newman led the first 12 laps and then Kurt Busch took over the lead. Moving up to the front was Dale. Jr. On lap 47 Greg Biffle blows a tire bringing out the first caution of the night.
The green flag drops and one lap later a mega wreck occurs. AJ Allmendinger touches the car of Jimmy Johnson. That causes Jimmy Johnson to lose a tire and slow down. Behind him cars winding up in the wreck included Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Dale Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kevin Harvick, David Stremme, Scott Riggs, David Gilliland, Elliott Sadler, Jeff Green, Cliint Bowyer, Kyle Petty, Sterling Marlin, and Johnny Sauter.
Juan stated that when he saw the tire he slowed up.
The green flag drops again on lap 62, but the caution quickly flies out again. Tony Raines clips Jeff Gordon sending him hard into the wall. Also crashing out is AJ Allemendinger. “Terrible,” said Allemendinger. “Would have been better in the long run.”
“It wasn’t really that hard,” said Jeff on the hit he took in the wreck. This makes the fifth time in a row that he has failed to finish a race at this racetrack.
The green flag drop again on lap 71. It does not last even ten laps as Jeff Burton crashes on lap 79. During this caution some cars pit and some stay out.
At the drop of the green flag this time we get the second long green flag run of the day. Kurt Busch leads until he pits at lap 112. This left the Toyota driven by Brian Vickers in the lead of the race who was flying at this point time by about a half a second a lap faster then the second place driver.
Vickers pits on lap 127, but after more cars pit he gets the lead of the race again on lap 137 with a big 4-second plus lead. It goes away at lap 141 for a debris caution.
15 cars were left on the lead lap when the green flag drops. Vickers kept the lead of the race while Kyle Busch was trying his best to pass him.
The next debris caution comes out on lap 170. The green flag drops and Kurt Busch takes the lead of the race for a few laps and then Vickers leads again. A few more laps go by and Kurt Busch spins out.
Leaders pit this time and the lead of the race goes to Jimmy Johnson. At lap 206 Vickers was able to get around Jimmy for the lead of the race. He keeps the lead of the race until the next caution flies on alp 221. Carl Edwards gets a flat, spins out before making it to pit road, goes up the racetrack and teammate David Ragan smacks into him. Also getting into the wreck is Bill Elliott.
During pit stops Kyle Busch changes a bad battery while Brian Vickers adds some power steering fluid into his car.
Jimmy Johnson leads the race when we get back to green flag racing, but quickly looses it Matt Kenseth. Jimmy retakes the lead on lap 245.
On lap 252 Kyle Busch crashes hard into the wall. Wound up with a broken break rotor.
Jeremy Mayfield in a Toyota takes no tires and the lead of the race off pit road, but looses it quickly to Matt Kenseth at the drop of the green flag.
On lap 268 Kasey Kahne spins and hit the wall brining out another caution. By this time Brian Vickers and his power steering is completely gone.
Johnson takes the lead of the race again.
At lap 291 Jeremy Mayfield spins out in the grass and causes no major damage to his car. The next caution comes out at lap 299 when Kurt Busch crashes hard. Kurt said he did not know why it got so bad.
Matt Kenseth starts as the leader for the final 25% of this race. Jimmy Johnson though gets the lead back on lap 318.
Jimmy keeps the lead and with 62 laps remaining Brian Vickers smacks the wall, but this caution was for debris. Tony Stewart wins the lead off pit road while Jimmy Johnson has an awful pit stop with a bad lug nut and falls all the way back to 10th. Ricky Rudd and Brian Vickers top off on fuel given them a shot to go all the way on fuel. The rest of the field may have to make a final pit stop for a splash of fuel.
With 50 laps to go Tony Stewart lead with Casey Mears in second. Jimmy Johnson has moved up a few spots to seventh. With 40 laps left Jimmy Johnson has moved up to fifth. With 30 laps to go Jimmy is in 4th, but is still over 5 seconds behind the leader Tony Stewart.
With 19 laps left Dale Jr. passes Casey Mears for second place. Around 17 laps to go and Jeremy Mayfield brings it to pit road and parks it for the rest of the night.
Jimmy Johnson comes in with 9 to go and Mark Martin is the next to come in. Six to go and Dale Jr. comes in.
Five to go and Casey Mears leads the race and somehow has enough gas in the car to win his first NEXTEL cup win ever with the National Guard as the sponsor.
“I can’t believe it,” said Casey Mears.
“Billy made a great call,” said Kyle Petty. His third place finish is his first top five finish in 10 years.
“I knew I was going to run out of gas,” said J.J. Yeley. “We definitely needed this.” He finished the race in second.
In points Jeff Gordon takes a massive hit in the points. He still leads though, but only by 132 points over Jimmy Johnson. In 12th is Jamie McMurray and right behind in thirteenth place is Dale Earnhardt Jr.