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Coca-Cola 600 leaves some drivers frustrated by lack of handling

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600

Jared C. Tilton

After much discussion about the difficulty of maneuvering on 1.5-mile tracks before the Coca-Cola 600, the relative lack of passing Sunday night (24 lead changes were the fewest in a 600-mile race since 2004) stoked more chatter afterward.

Kasey Kahne was among the most outspoken after finishing 12th, noting that the handling of his No. 5 Chevrolet was affected by the movements of cars that were far ahead of his.

“If the car that was 10 car lengths in front of me, if he would run high, I could run the bottom instantly better,” Kahne said. “As soon as he would go back to the bottom -- I mean he is not even in the same racetrack -- it affects our cars and our front-ends. It’s a complete pain.”

Kahne, a three-time winner of the longest race in the Sprint Cup Series, said passing never had been more difficult in the Coke 600 during his 12 starts in the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kahne said it was as tough to get by a car for a top-10 position as it was a lapped car.

“Everybody has to keep working if we want to actually be able to race these cars,” Kahne said. “Not just the teams, it’s the sanctioning body needs to work on what we’ve got.”

Postrace on Twitter, Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick, said the multizone tire used at Charlotte also needed improvement, and two drivers agreed.

It bears watching how NASCAR handles the complaints, particularly suggestions such as Kahne’s. NASCAR vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell has indicated the 2015 rules could remain in place next season, an idea supported by team owner Roger Penske.