Johnson ends drought at Coca-Cola 600

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“Kind of a shame, kind of symbolizes how it’s been for the Haas Automation team,” Busch said. “We gave it our all with the way we were clawing our way up there.”

The 42-year-old Gordon, a four-time series champion, has dealt with back problems before and his No. 24 team had driver Regan Smith on standby if Gordon couldn’t go.

But if Gordon’s back bothered him during the race, he didn’t show it with his performance. He spent much of the night in the top 10 and was out front until Kenseth passed him on a restart 16 laps from the end. Gordon finished seventh, his ninth top-10 finish in 12 events this year.

“It was tough. I was aching in there. There was one time when I got on the brakes into (Turn) 1 and it triggered something. I didn’t know what was going to happen after that, but it settled down,” Gordon said.

Gordon maintained his points lead by 11 over second-place Kenseth.

Danica Patrick had hopes of a strong showing after qualifying fourth, her best starting spot of the season. But like Busch, she too, was out early with a blown engine 119 laps from the end. She was 39th, her poorest finish in three 600s.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came into this one with seven top 10s in 11 races and the hope he could finally win a points race at his beloved home track. He led 13 laps late in the race before he had engine problems as well and faded from contention. He ended 19th.

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