Kahne Gets a Big Win in the Bristol 500
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series - Bristol, TN
Kasey Kahne was up front to take the checkered flag at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Sunday to drive his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to victory lane following the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
"It's a big win," Kahne said in victory lane. "I'm really happy.
The win was Hendrick Motorsports' 11th Sprint Cup Series victory at Bristol, tying the team with Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing for the most wins at the track among active teams.
"I love driving for Hendrick Motorsports," Kahne said. "This whole team was flawless again today." Kyle Busch overcame an early-race speeding penalty in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to finish in the runner-up spot. Reigning series champion Brad Keselowski was third in the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford. "I need to stop getting penalties and stay up front all day," Busch said.
Busch started on the pole, but lost the lead when he took four tires and then was nabbed for pit road speeding during a caution on lap 54. Kahne inherited the lead, with the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin in second. Soon after the restart, Hamlin took the lead from Kahne.
Hamlin led the most laps, keeping his No. 11 out front for 117 of the 500 laps that made up the race. But on old tires in the final laps, he began scraping the wall with about eight laps to go and then got into the wall multiple times per lap for the remaining laps of the race. Hamlin came close to being black-flagged by NASCAR in the closing laps for not being able to keep his car up to minimum race speed. He wound up getting lapped with five laps to go and finished 23rd.
Joey Logano, Hamlin's former teammate and current driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford, had an issue with Hamlin earlier in the race. Right after racing the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon for the lead on with 150 laps to go, Logano and Hamlin made contact that sent Logano's car hard into the wall. Logano was able to continue, though, and finished the race in the 17th position, but he and Hamlin exchanged words after the race. Logano was unwilling to discuss later what he told Hamlin.
"You've got to control your car, and he slid up into me," Hamlin said of the incident. Hamlin also went on to say that while he did hit Logano on purpose, it could have been worse because he did check up to keep the incident from becoming worse than it actually was.
Tires, specifically right fronts, were an issue for several drivers, including Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 Chevrolet and Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Chevy. Both drivers were running at or near the front when they suffered right-front tire blowouts that sent them to the garage and out of the race.
"The right fronts never blow out when you're right there against the wall," Gordon said. "We needed points, and this is definitely not going to get us any.
Gordon hit the wall while leading the race with 110 laps to go, taking then-second-place runner Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Toyota with him. Johnson had the same issue while running near the front with 46 to go.
Kahne moved to the lead on the restart following Johnson's tire-related issue that brought out the 10th and final caution of the race. Keselowski restarted the race in the top spot but lost several positions when he spun his tires on the restart. He also lost second to Busch. Second was as high up in the running order Busch could get the rest of the way.
"Too tight all day," Busch said of his car. "Didn't have the car to run on the bottom, and it was tight up top." Keselowski had to battle the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet of Kurt Busch in the closing laps to hold on to his position in third. He was able to keep the position, and Busch wound up finishing fourth. Clint Bowyer finished fifth in the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr., the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman, the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Brian Vickers, the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard and the No. 1 Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray.
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