Monday, May 28, 2012

Kasey Kahne's third victory in the Coca-Cola 600 gives him first win with HMS

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Hendrick Motorsports' wild ride continued Sunday night as Kasey Kahne turned his 300th career start into his first win for the organization. In the last two weeks Jimmie Johnson scored win 200 for Rick Hendrick in the Southern 500, the No. 48 team won the pit crew challenge, and Johnson won the All-Star Race. The No. 5 team took their turn with Kahne's third Coca-Cola 600 win and fourth win at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

“It’s special,” Kahne said of his victory, "It felt really good to put the entire race together and have speed all night long. Our Quaker State Chevrolet was really fast. The pit stops were great. The adjustments that Kenny and Keith came up with throughout the race were awesome."

"It feels good to get a win for Hendrick Motorsports. It's something I've been looking forward to for a year and a half, to drive for Hendrick Motorsports, to be teammates with Dale, Jimmie and Jeff. To put it all together tonight and get the win, it feels good."

Kahne’s No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet was fast as it stayed in the top 10, but he had a scare during one of his green flag pit stops; Carl Edwards pinned him in and they almost collided. Kahne settled for two tires instead of the planned four and his crew chief, Kenny Francis feared that it would hurt them considering all cars behind them had four new tires. Obviously, it didn’t matter. Kahne flew ahead without any complications.  

Historic and unique, the Coca-Cola 600 is an important race for NASCAR. Hosted on Memorial Day weekend, it allows the sport to honor the men and women in the military. It is also the longest race, starting in the daytime and ending at night. Sunday night's race clocked in at a record 3 hours and 51 minutes, besting 1995's 3 hours and 56 minutes running time.  

With the Charlotte track being temperature-sensitive, it should have made for interesting racing as night fell and the track cooled. Not this Sunday night. Starting with Aric Almirola on the pole and his RPM teammate Marcos Ambrose in second, the first 100 laps were rather quiet. It didn't take long for Almirola to fall behind. He did lead twice for a total of two laps, but it was Greg Biffle who moved up and dominated the first part of the race, leading six different times for a total of 194 laps. He stayed in the top three for the majority of the time he didn't lead, but in the end he finished fourth. Biffle still leads in the Chase standings by 10 points over Roush teammate Matt Kenseth, who finished 10th.

Kyle Busch charged to the front and battled with Biffle for the second half of the race, leading three  times for a total of 55 laps. Denny Hamlin moved forward quickly and found himself fighting for first, leading for 12 laps. Hamlin was able to hold onto a top spot until the end, finishing second. It was the fourth time in a row he finished a points race in second position; he finished second in Saturday's Nationwide History 300, and in both races at Darlington two weeks ago. His next victory will be a milestone; he’s aiming to put the No. 11 car in victory lane for the 200th time.

Kahne didn’t dominate until the last 100 laps but from the midpoint of the race on, he led six times for a total of 96 laps, including the final 44. 

Ambrose turned in a solid run early in the race, running in the top five but a hub failure sent him to the garage twice and he finished a disappointing 32nd, 33 laps down. 

Jeff Gordon was a strong mover throughout the 600. After starting in 23rd, he took the lead for a short time because he didn’t pit during the second caution. He led four laps and was in and out of the top ten throughout the race. Gordon finished in seventh, gained 38 points, moving up two spots to 22nd in the standings. 

Cautions only slowed the race five times for a total of 23 laps. Four were for debris and one was when Travis Kvapil hit the wall on Lap 170.  

Other notables in the Coke 600:

A pit road speeding penalty on Lap 113 put Brad Keselowski in the rear of the field, but he bounced back and finished in fifth despite an incident during green-flag pit stops in which Keselowski bumped Tony Stewart, causing Stewart to spin. The driver of the Blue Deuce asked his spotter speak to Stewart's crew to explain. The spotter told him not to worry about it but Keselowski insisted because he didn't want to end up in the wall if Stewart decided to retaliate. 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. started in 12th, but a strong second half and some savvy pit strategy saw him fighting for the lead on Lap 325. He remained in the top five for several laps and finished in sixth.

A costly pit error shook things up for the No. 48 team. As Johnson went to leave his box following a green flag stop, the gas can was still engaged and it, along with the gas man, were removed from the pit box. After serving his penalty, Johnson still managed to finish in 11th.


Race results:

1. Kasey Kahne
2. Denny Hamlin
3. Kyle Busch
4. Greg Biffle
5. Brad Keselowski
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Kevin Harvick
9. Carl Edwards
10. Matt Kenseth
11. Jimmie Johnson
12. Martin Truex Jr.
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Ryan Newman
15. Paul Menard
16. Aric Almirola
17. Regan Smith
18. Landon Cassill
19. Jeff Burton
20. Juan Pablo Montoya
21. Jamie McMurray
22. Casey Mears
23. Joey Logano
24. Trevor Bayne
25. Tony Stewart
26. David Gilliland
27. Kurt Busch
28. Bobby Labonte
29. Travis Kvapil
30. Danica Patrick
31. T.J. Bell
32. Marcos Ambrose
33. AJ Allmendinger
34. Mark Martin
35. David Ragan
36. Michael McDowell
37. Scott Speed
38. David Stremme
39. Stephen Leicht
40. Dave Blaney
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Cole Whitt
43. Josh Wise

Top 15 in the points:

1. Greg Biffle
2. Matt Kenseth -10
3. Denny Hamlin -16
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. -18
5. Jimmie Johnson -48
6. Martin Truex Jr. -49
7. Kevin Harvick -55
8. Kyle Busch -62
9. Tony Stewart -65
10. Carl Edwards -81
11. Brad Keselowski -85
12. Clint Bowyer -87
13. Ryan Newman -116
14. Paul Menard -116
15. Kasey Kahne -123

0 comments :

Post a Comment