Kasey Kahne rocks at "The Rock"

Photo Credit: Genevieve Cadorette
After an eight year and 53 day wait, NASCAR returned to Rockingham Speedway, the historic track in Rockingham, North Carolina, also known as "The Rock." It's a place where big names from the past have won; Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty, Jeff Gordon and a place where many young hopefuls dreamed to win one day. That dream was cut short in 2004 when the track shut down.

On April 15th, the NASCAR Camping World Series held their third race of the season for the grand re-opening of the track. Donnie Allison waved the green flag as Nelson Piquet Jr. led the field across the start/finish line.

Turner Motorsports driver Brad Sweet practiced and qualified the No. 4 Rockwell Tools Chevrolet to start in fifth position on Saturday, but with Kasey Kahne climbing in at race time, he would have to start in the rear of the field in 36th position. Kahne went intending to win the inaugural race at the historic Rockingham Speedway. Kahne has history at "The Rock." He finished in second the first time he raced at the track in 2004 as a rookie, and that was the last race at Rockingham for the Cup series.

Kahne did not have any practice in the truck or on the track before today's race. His faith in his teammates at Turner Motorsports paid off in the end.

Kahne flew in from Texas after finishing seventh in the Sprint Cup Series with the Farmers Insurance No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, and had finished 3rd in the Great Clips Chevy for the Nationwide Race.

When asked how tired he was and if there was a time he ever doubted his enthusiasm over the weekend, Kahne responded, “There actually never was. This was probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time. I got out of that truck and man I got three clean race cars. I ran hard races this weekend, everything was clean, not a dent on it."

Last weekend, during the Cup series off weekend, Kahne decided he would go back to his roots and headed up to Ohio to run two dirt track races in his sprint car for Kasey Kahne Racing team. He is a dirt track racer. That is what he calls himself. It’s a place where he can have fun with his team.   

“Mr. H was talking to me right before the race started, ‘you got to be careful when you go racing those cars.’ I’m like, man, I need to do that once in awhile. I enjoy that stuff,” he said when I asked if taking the off weekend racing his sprint cars would be a great way to give him more momentum going forward at Hendrick. “It was a nice way to kind of relax,” he continued, “definitely gives me momentum.”
Photo Credit: Genevieve Cadorette

John King caused the first caution of the day by spinning out on lap four and crashing into the wall on the backstretch. He finished in 33rd position, throwing him out of the points lead and into seventh overall.

Nelson Piquet Jr., who won the pole, led three times for a total of 107 laps, but he was hit with a speeding penalty when driving off pit road on the final caution of the race. He finished in seventh position.

Kahne snatched the lead from Matt Crafton with 46 laps to go. Crafton led three times for a total of 40 laps and finished third.

Timothy Peters finished fifth in his Strutmaster.com Toyota, putting him in the points lead.

The second-place finisher was James Buescher, teammate to Kahne at Turner Motorsports. "We had an excellent last pit stop and that got us out in front of Matt (Crafton) and the (No.) 17 [Timothy Peters]," Buescher said. "That put us up on the front row for the last restart and gave us a chance to go for the win. We just didn't have enough clean air at the end and Kasey (Kahne) was able to pull away from us there."

Race results:

 1. Kasey Kahne
 2. James Buescher
 3. Matt Crafton
 4. Johnny Sauter
 5. Timothy Peters
 6. Joey Coulter
 7. Nelson Piquet Jr.
 8. Ty Dillon
 9. Parker Kligerman
10. Justin Lofton
11. Jeb Burton
12. Ron Hornaday Jr.
13. David Starr
14. Dakoda Armstrong
15. Miguel Paludo
16. Timothy George Jr.
17. Cale Gale
18. Max Gresham
19. David Reutimann
20. John Wes Townley
21. Caleb Holman
22. Ryan Sieg
23. Brennan Newberry
24. Jason White
25. Ross Chastain
26. Paulie Harraka
27. Jeff Agnew
28. Tyler Young
29. Chris Cockrum
30. Norm Benning
31. Todd Bodine
32. Bryan Silas
33. John King
34. Jason Leffler
35. Johnny Chapman
36. Grant Enfinger

Genevieve is a freelance writer with a day job in child care, and living on Lake Norman, near all the race shops. When she's not writing, she's doing some form of exercise, cooking, spending time with her niece, or simply hanging out with friends. Genevieve can be reached on twitter at @C_Genevieve 

Kasey Kahne rocks at "The Rock" Kasey Kahne rocks at "The Rock" Reviewed by Unknown on Monday, April 16, 2012 Rating: 5