CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick won an odd Coca-Cola 600, a race which had two red-flag periods including one caused when a nylon rope used to suspend Fox Sports' overhead television camera came loose and fell Sunday night.
The rope damaged cars, including that of then-leader Kyle Busch, and injured at least 10 fans.
"First off I want to say I hope everybody's okay; that's quite a weird incident there," Harvick told Fox just after getting out of his car.
The rope broke 121 laps into the 400-lap race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Long strands tangled some cars, damaging Busch's No. 18 Toyota and the No. 9 Ford driven by Marcos Ambrose.
Seven fans were treated and released at the track. Three were transported to a local hospital for "minor injuries that are not life threatening," track spokeswoman Danielle Frye said.
Kasey Kahne's team elected not to pit following a late caution. Harvick and several others took fuel and two tires. Harvick took the lead upon the side-by-side restart with 11 laps left and led the rest of the way for his second victory in Sprint Cup's longest race.
Kahne led 156 laps and appeared to have the strongest machine. But Harvick took the low line following the last of 11 cautions and slowly pulled away.
Harvick won this race in 2011 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of gas 700 feet from the finish line.
"We kind of won it on gas mileage last time, we just went and won it this time," Harvick said. "It was a good strategy call (to take two tires)."
Kahne finished second, Kurt Busch third and pole-sitter Denny Hamlin fourth.
"I bet if we pit, some of them don't," Kahne said of the decision to stay out. "I think we were just in a tough spot right there. I knew Kevin would be good, he's been fast all weekend."
The rope fell on the grandstand along Turn 4. The track described the rope as a guide to the "CamCat" overhead camera system, which Fox uses for a variety of sports.
The All-Star race on May 18 and the Coca-Cola 600 marked the first time the system has been used at Charlotte.
"It snapped down and then flew down everywhere," said Alec Schaffer, 22, of Richmond, Va., who was not injured. "Hats, popcorn, concessions were flying. It flew back up and everyone started holding the wire."
One of the injured fans, Todd Seymour of Lenoir, N.C., said that some fans said they heard the rope snap but he did not. The rope hit the back of his head and came to rest on his right shoulder and right arm.
"I picked it up and it took back off," Seymour said. "When it took back off it caused the burn."
Seymour had his right forearm treated with Neosporin and wrapped in white gauze.
Fox Sports, in a statement, expressed concern for the fans.
"A full investigation is planned, and use of the camera is suspended indefinitely," Fox's statement said.
This camera system was used at this year's Daytona 500 and last week's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte.
NASCAR spokesman Brett Jewkes said in a statement: "NASCAR will work closely with our partners at Fox on their investigation of the CamCat issue tonight," it said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the fans."
With two cars, including the leader, severely damaged, NASCAR took the rare step to red-flag the race, then let teams have 15 minutes so team could fix any damage. Kyle Busch said of his car, "it's pretty killed," including damage to his right front bumper and grill.
He stayed in the lead as the race resumed but his engine failed around Lap 252.
As for the camera?
"I heard a big thump along the right front tire. It felt like a blow-out," Busch said. "Maybe now we can get rid of that thing."