Kahne 600 Winner
May 28, 2006 | 12:02 P.M. EST
After being penalized for missing lugnuts on a tire change pit stop near the 100 lap mark, Kahne was able to charge his way back to the front of the field in his potent No. 9 Dodge.
Kahne took the top spot with 30 laps to go and cruised away from runnerup Jimmie Johnson to score his third NEXTEL Cup Series win of the season. Kahne’s three wins have all come on 1.5-mile “sister” tracks – Atlanta Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Sunday night at Lowe’s.
The win was Kahne’s fourth career NEXTEL Cup win and the first for Dodge at Charlotte since Richard Petty won in 1977. Kahne led 158 laps Sunday night.
Carl Edwards and Johnson were ahead of Kahne on the race’s final restart with 33 laps to go. It took Kahne three laps to get his Evernham Motorsports Dodge Charger up to challenge for the top spot and he finally moved around Edwards in turns three and four for the point on lap 370 of the 400-lap grind.
"We were able to really get going there at the end," Kahne said. "It's awesome to win the 600, such a long race. Today was ours."
Johnson worked his way past Edwards for second but couldn’t come close to running down Kahne, who won nearly two seconds in front of the Lowe’s Chevrolet. Johnson’s runnerup finish ended his bid for a fourth straight Coca-Cola 600 victory.
"It's a weird race, a long race, and I'm very proud of the stats that I've had, and slightly disappointed that it's come to an end," Johnson said.
Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth rounded out the Top 5, giving Roush Racing three drivers in the first five finishers.
Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray, Denny Hamlin and Reed Sorenson completed the first ten finishers.
The race featured a smaller fuel cell than used in the past at Lowe's, with the 14 gallon cell forcing more pit stops - and changing strategies - throughout the race.
Tony Stewart made a trip to an area hospital for observation a second straight night.
After his hard crash in Saturday night's Busch Series race, when he and Jamie McMurray were taken for observation and released, Stewart found himself in an early race accident again Sunday.
A right front tire problem sent Stewart's Home Depot Chevrolet hard into the first turn wall on lap 34. He emerged from the car holding his right arm and was transported to Carolinas Medical Center.
"They thought that he had chipped or cracked his scapula bone, but it wasn't that, it was just a bad bruise and swollen," said Stewart's crew chief Greg Zipadelli. "Like a cracked or bruised rib, it just takes time to heal."
After contending with hot and slick conditions during most of the race, a combination of the weather and the track's new surface, some tempers began to wear as the race wore on.
Casey Mears and Kyle Busch were running second and fourth when Mears' Texaco Havoline Dodge clipped the frontstretch wall and slide into Busch, turning him around and sending his hard into the outside wall.
Busch broke away from NASCAR officials trying to hold him back from running on the track after he exited the car and weakly tossed part of his HANS device at Mears as he drove by.
"Just a very frustrating moment for me," Busch said. "I had a really great race car that I thought could have won the race."
The NEXTEL Cup Series now heads to Dover International Speedway for next Sunday’s Neighborhood Excellence 400.