Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

Best Quote

“We’re happy to get a top-five, but when you’re that close to a win, you’re kind of disappointed.” – David Ragan, finished second, on being so close to his first Sprint Cup points victory

So close yet so far aptly sums up Ragan’s night. After the past two weeks at Charlotte, it’s becoming apparent that Ragan is right on the cusp of capturing that elusive first career Sprint Cup points-race victory. Ragan’s car won the Sprint All-Star Showdown and was consistently a top-five car all night, proving to his many detractors that Ragan’s not going to give up his ride in the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion without a fight. E ven though he had to pit on the final caution, he managed to avoid a massive cluster-something-that-rhymes-with-duck on the restart and finish second to Kevin Harvick.

Worst Quote

“I just don’t like racing here.” – Kevin Harvick, race winner, on his feelings about racing at Charlotte

However context one wants to put in Harvick’s post-race comments, perhaps saying that he doesn’t like racing in Charlotte right in the heart of Junior Nation after their hero ran out of gas in the final 500 feet was probably, in hindsight, not the best idea. All it did was draw the ire of already disappointed and disgusted fans who felt, in their minds, that Harvick shouldn’t have won the race. The sad thing is that despite the fact that this is the third race Harvick has won this year in the last five laps, all anyone will talk about was how much he hates racing at Charlotte.

Funniest Quote

“It was everything I thought it was gonna be. The 600 miles didn’t seem too bad. I still feel pretty good, so that’s good. Our trainer at the shop must be working me out pretty good.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 11th, on running 600 miles at Charlotte for the first time

See also
The Future of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. On the Line at Charlotte

Trevor Bayne had set the bar pretty high for how to begin a Sprint Cup career with a top 20 at Texas and, obviously, a win at Daytona in his second start. So Stenhouse had a tough, if almost impossible act to follow. But, despite scraping the wall three times during the race, Stenhouse finished in 11th place in his first Sprint Cup start, better than Bayne’s debut.

There were a lot of questions going into this race for Stenhouse, namely could he go 900 miles in two days? That was answered resoundingly this weekend as Stenhouse passed his first Cup test with flying colors and pulled within one point of Elliott Sadler’s points lead in the Nationwide Series. Furthermore, the on-going debate of Ricky vs. Trevor just picked up a little more steam in favor of Stenhouse. There’s no telling what the Olive Branch, Miss. native will do in Cup with more experience.

Most Controversial Quote

“We weren’t supposed to make it.” – Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished seventh, on running out of gas in the final turn

Fate on Memorial Day weekend was not kind to Dale Jr. (or any National Guard-sponsored team on the last lap yesterday, for that matter). To come agonizingly close to breaking a nearly three-year victory drought and know that you’re short on fuel is like being punched in the stomach full-force by Bernard Hopkins, or like shooting Santa Claus.

Junior Nation was rocking to their feet in anticipation of a long drought ending. Even certain FOX announcers were cheering for Junior, but alas, it was not to be. If Junior Nation can find any solace in this, at least their driver has gained on the leaders, now just 43 points out of the lead. But still, one has to wonder what might have been.

Best of the Rest

“Our fuel mileage wasn’t that good, so that whole last run we were saving. It was funny because the fuel numbers kept changing because we were 10 laps short, then we were two laps short, and then we were gonna run out coming to the checkered. At that point, I was happy when it stayed green and made it on fuel, and then on that last restart we came in and were just hanging out that point.

You just hope you don’t get into guys that run out of fuel. I had a great restart and split the middle. The [No.] 31 just completely ran out and the [No.] 99 got into him. I checked up and it was pretty insane.”- AJ Allmendinger, finished fifth, on his fuel mileage and the finish

“It was a long night. That’s the longest race I’ve ever been a part of, I can tell you that, without switching drivers around. It’s just a big thrill to finish one. This is my third try and I hadn’t finished one, so I’m proud of my team and proud of our record.” – Marcos Ambrose, finished sixth, on whether it was a long race

“It’s disappointing to run as well as we did and have that happen at the end. Disappointing. The Miller Lite Dodge was fast all night. We started on the pole. We ran in the top 10 most of the night. The crew did a great job. It was a total team effort. Unfortunately, we ended up three miles short of a top-five finish.” – Brad Keselowski, finished 19th, on being disappointed with his finish

“No we didn’t. I couldn’t get the car pulled down in time and they (Mark Martin and David Gilliland) bounced off the wall and came back and got me. We were just a by-product of it. We shouldn’t have been in that position, we should have been out front. Just disappointed in our day. The US Army Chevrolet was not good but the guys fought hard. Just got on the unfortunate side of an unfortunate accident.” – Ryan Newman, finished 31st, on having nowhere to go in the accident that put him in the garage

“Getting into turn 3 on the restart, Carl [Edwards] made it three-wide getting down into [turn] 3. I was trying to give everybody room and Mark was on my right side. These cars are pretty aero-sensitive and I just got loose. I tried to chase it up the track and there was nowhere to go, so it’s an unfortunate ending to a long night. It’s just a bad deal that we’re tore up and they’re tore up, but we’ll just go on.” – David Gilliland, 33rd, on his accident with Mark Martin

“This was a great weekend. I’m just honored and blessed to be driving this Ford Fusion. It was awesome out there. We just wanted to get to the end and learn a lot. We raced with a lot of good cars and made a lot of changes, but it was just hard racing out there. I think some of the other people out there weren’t running very good and I guess they just took it out on us. Wally Rogers, Doug Yates, Bob Leavine, Sharon Leavine, all the people involved, are just awesome. We weren’t gonna win the race or run in the top 10, but we were learning a whole lot.

“The car was getting better every pit stop and the team was getting better every lap. Our goal was just to make sure we got to the finish and it’s just disappointing. It hurts my feelings that we’re sitting in here, but it was just one of those racing things. This is a great series with the best drivers in the world, but things like that happen.

“I’m just disappointed it happened to us tonight, but we’ll leave the racetrack with our heads held high and fix our cars and come back for the next race. I’m really blessed and excited to be here. It was a big honor to race in the Coca-Cola 600 even though it ended up like this.” – David Starr, finished 36th

“It was really special for Bass Pro Shops to take Tracker off the side and put Joplin, Mo. on there. They have helped me a lot this past week with putting together ways to raise money to help rebuild Joplin. It’s my hometown. It was heartbreaking to see the tornado and see all the people that lost their homes and the ones that lost their lives. It is really special that Johnny let us put that on there. Hopefully we made some people proud tonight.” – Jamie McMurray, finished 38th

About the author

 | Website

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

Share via