A communication misunderstanding between driver Denny Hamlin and crew chief Darien Grubb resulted in placing Kasey Kahne into Victory Lane at NHMS on Sunday afternoon. Even though Hamlin led the most laps during the race, it wasn’t the lap that counted – the final one where he would have been awarded the big check, trophy and accolades.
He did finish in second place, however, after meticulously working his way through traffic. Being the man that he is, no angst was shown after it was all over when he good naturedly confirmed the miscommunication. “We had a shot at the win. We’re coming back here in September to win it. If we’re not wrecking, we’re winning,” he said.
Kahne, the enthused champ, was all smiles ear to ear. ”I’m pretty happy with the way it worked out,” he gushed, thanking those on his team, car owner Rick Hendrick and sponsors. Boyer was third, Earnhart, Jr., fourth and then Keselowski taking fifth place. Because of his winning Sunday’s afternoon drive, Kahne is now the top wild card driver for his first-ever coup at NHMS.
Earnhart was frank when he revealed, ”It was a lot of work today. We just didn’t have enough to win. I’m still happy though considering everything. We usually run better here in the second race, and it might be because of the weather.”Considering that he started in 22nd place, Keselowski did pretty well managing a top five. “We were a second or third race car and still could have won if things broke our way,” he said. Gordon, who ended up sixth and really needs a victory about now, said, “I really felt that we could win here, but we missed it. Handling was a problem and that made it hard to pass.”
Depending on observations, the crowd at NHMS was pretty good. The one-mile Loudon facility seats around 100,000, and, compared to other Cup races this year, it was surprisingly well attended.