Kasey Kahne made a late green flag stop at the right time and survived a myriad of restarts as the sunlight waned to end a long winless drought with victory at The Brickyard.
He pitted from third with 11 laps to go just as a multi-car wreck involving Clint Bowyer, Erik Jones and Kurt Busch occurred on the front stretch. This timely stop proved vital as he opted to stay out when Brad Keselowski and the others elected to pit and assumed the race lead.
He held off Keselowski’s charge into Turn 1 before the caution flew for Kyle Larson bouncing into the outside wall on the front stretch.
On the following restart with two to go in regulation time, Kahne and Keselowski were side-by-side all the way from the start/finish line through Turn 3. This time, Jimmie Johnson threw his hat into the mix, making the two-wide battle three-wide entering Turn 3. This, predictably, caused him on the inside to spin out and slam the wall, sending the race into overtime.
The first overtime attempt didn’t make it to the start/finish line before calamity erupted into another multi-car wreck on the front stretch. Keselowski was declared the race leader.
The field was lined up and sent racing again. This time, Kahne shot ahead of Keselowski going into Turn 1. Exiting Turn 2, another multi-car wreck broke out well prior to the overtime line, but NASCAR chose to hold it, ending the race under caution and ending Kahne’s 102-race winless streak.
“The career is big, for sure; but the win and the history here. To win at this track is unreal,” Kahne said in victory lane. “We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. Today’s strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops. Farmers Insurance, Great Clips, and Chevrolet have been huge to us. To win at Indy is unbelievable. I wish my son, Tanner, was here.”
It’s his 18th victory in 448 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts.
Keselowski came home second and Ryan Newman rounded out the podium.
“We had a good, solid day,” Keselowski said. “Anytime that you’re that close (to winning) you can certainly taste it. I had a taste of it in my mouth, I didn’t get to eat it.”
“Just a lot of adrenaline going through the gearbox I guess. Just guys running over each other,” Newman said. “Good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet. I’ve got to thank them for jumping on board. We were close. We didn’t have the best race car, we had a good long run car, but we were horrible on restarts and that is what we needed there at the end.”
Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five.
Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top-10.
“A top 10 in the Daytona 500 and a top 10 in the Brickyard 400 finishing eighth today. It’s crazy. It was a crazy day,” DiBenedetto said after an eighth-place finish. “It’s pretty unreal what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. I’m so proud. It’s not all me. My team are the ones that deserve the credit and I’m more happy for them than myself. I’ve worked so dang hard the old-school way to get here, countless late nights for these guys working, many sleepless nights in my career thinking it was over about 30 to 40 times and that’s not even an exaggeration, and to have these kinds of races this year is just unbelievable. It’s been fun.”
Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag at 2:46 p.m. He led every lap of the first stage on his way to winning it.
The lead first changed under the fifth caution of the day, related to debris from JJ Yeley’s car, after Jones opted not to pit. He held it until the Lap 81 restart when Ryan Blaney took it going into Turn 1. Busch returned to the front on Lap 87 and won the second stage. Martin Truex Jr. exited pit road ahead of Busch under the stage break.
Restarting on the inside and Busch on the outside on Lap 111, after another restart that ended in a wreck in Turn 2 two laps later, Truex got loose in Turn 1, then shot up and sent Busch into the outside wall. The side-force from Busch passing him on the outside spun him out, into the wall.
Matt Kenseth inherited the race lead as it went back green with 40 laps to go. He pitted from the lead with 28 to go, as did Jones a lap later, handing it to Keselowski.
In the closing laps, he, Johnson and Kahne didn’t have the fuel to stretch it to the end, while Trevor Bayne in fourth probably did.
That strategy went out the window, however, with the multi-car wreck on the front stretch with 11 to go, setting up the run to the finish.
The caution flew for the first time on Lap 10 for Corey LaJoie spinning out in Turn 3. A caution flew for the second time on Lap 31 for a scheduled competition caution. The fourth caution flew on Lap 58 when JJ Yeley spun exiting Turn 1, triggering a three-car wreck in Turn 1. Another caution flew for the sixth time on Lap 76 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew up exiting Turn 2. Caution eight flew on Lap 108 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got loose exiting Turn 2, spun down the track and slammed the inside wall head-on.
NUTS & BOLTS
The race lasted three hours and 39 minutes at an average speed of 114.384 mph. There were 10 lead changes among seven different drivers and 14 cautions for 55 laps.
Truex leaves with a 48-point lead over Larson.C1720_UNOFFRES