Kevin Harvick leads halfway in Coca-Cola 600

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At the halfway point of the 400-lap Coca-Cola 600, Kevin Harvick leads after 200 laps at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Harvick also was in the lead after the first 100 laps. There are 200 more laps remaining in NASCAR’s longest and most grueling race of the Sprint Cup season.

Brad Keselowski is second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers.

Running sixth through 10th were Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano.

Only three drivers have led laps in the event: Johnson led the most laps (91) at the halfway mark, followed by Harvick (79) and Keselowski (30).

Despite fighting back spasms, Gordon remains behind the wheel.

Kurt Busch, who is attempting to become the first driver to race 1,100 miles in the same day between the Indianapolis 500 (finished sixth) and the 600, was running 13th with 200 more laps to go.

Busch was forced to start from the 42nd position because he was unable to arrive at CMS in time for the mandatory driver’s and crew chiefs meeting.

Busch’s younger brother, Kyle, was forced to start from the back of the 43-car field due to driving a back-up car, having crashed his primary ride during Saturday’s second of two practice sessions.

Kyle Busch had climbed up to 17th by Lap 200.

The first 108 laps were run caution-free until debris on the racetrack brought out the yellow flag to slow the field.

Danica Patrick ran very strong in the first 100 laps, climbing as high as second place before falling back to 24th at the midpoint.

There have been just three cautions for 15 laps at the halfway point of the race. The only wreck was David Gilliland, who was sent into the wall when a tire gave way on Lap 161.

“We blew a right-front tire there,” Gilliland said. “We did the wave-around trying to make up some track position, but just blew a right-front. It got real tight the lap before and just blew a right-front.

“It’s a tough way for this to end. We were looking forward to finishing it off, but we’re not gonna do it tonight.”

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Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.