Nice guys don't always finish last.
Oftentimes they finish second -- but they don't win championships.
And Kasey Kahne won't win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title -- despite his consummate skill and the unquestioned quality of his equipment -- until his level of aggression begins to approach the level of his talent.
In Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kahne had the best car at the end of the race, hands-down, and failed to win. For the third time this season, Kahne chased Matt Kenseth to the finish line with fresher tires and/or a faster car.
Kenseth refused to lose, driving perilously deep into the corners to prevent Kahne from clearing his car.
Kahne, on the other hand, refused to win, refraining from using his bumper to move Kenseth in the closing laps.
Had Kahne cleared Kenseth, he would have run away with the race. Kenseth knew it, and so did the fans in the stands who stood and cheered as they watched some of the most breathtaking racing we've seen this year.
We watched and waited for Kahne to seize the moment, but it didn't happen. Kahne settled for second. That sort of mind-set doesn't work in theChase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, where victories are paramount.
Just ask Carl Edwards, who took an eight-point lead into the final three races of the 2011 Chase, finished second three times and lost the championship in a tiebreaker to Tony Stewart, who won two of the last three events.
No one would have blamed Kahne for moving Kenseth out of the way on Saturday night. It was Bristol, after all, the high-speed home of the bump-and-run.
Though he doesn't look a day older than 25, Kahne turned 33 in April. My belated birthday present to the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet is a wristband inscribed "WWDD," as in "What would Dale (Earnhardt) do?"
Perhaps that could serve as food for thought when the Chase starts.