INDIANAPOLIS-- In a race that saw attrition and strategy play out, Kasey Kahne was victorious at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Brickyard 400.
“The career is big, for sure; but the win and the history here. To win at this track is unreal. 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,” Kahne stated. “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.”
This is Kahne's first win since 2014. This is Kahne’s 18th career victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, his first of 2017.
After having a terrible car for the earlier part of the race, the Team Penske crew for Brad Keselowski was able to finish second at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We had a good, solid day. 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,” said Keselowski.
After much attrition during the event, Ryan Newman was able to finish in the third position.
“Yeah, crazy at the end there. It’s just the opposite of what you expect sometimes when you see a bunch of green flag runs when we get the caution flags they just breed more caution flags,” said Newman. “Guys are a little out of control, but good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet. Proud of the guys. Made some big improvements, but we’ve got some more work to do.”
Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher, and AJ Allmendinger round out the top-10.
The race was stopped three times by the red flag. There were 14 cautions for 55 laps during the event. The time of race was three hours and 39 minutes. The average speed of 114.384 mph. The race ended in NASCAR Overtime at 167 laps.
Next up for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is a trip to Pocono Raceway for the Overton’s 400. The race will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network at 3:00 p.m. ET.
HAMPTON, Ga.— Kasey Kahne scored a top-five finished at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kahne was the highest finishing driver from the Hendrick Motorsports stable. Kahne has been considered the “sleeper” at Hendrick Motorsports over the past couple seasons. This run is Kahne’s best finish at the track since his victory back in 2014.
Kahne started the race from the 29th position, but battled throughout the race to strive for contention for the victory.
“We started really slow. I was so loose and the adjustments were perfect today. They fixed the car. Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and the engineers did a great job of making the car better; a lot better at that. But then when you’re behind you just battle and battle long runs. It was tough,” said Kahne.
Unlike recent years, Kahne was able to dig himself out of a hole.
“A lot because that is actually really hard to do. It’s hard to do when you are one of the best teams and drivers and running up front all the time and you get back there, it’s tough to dig out of. For us, the last year or two it’s been really hard and today we did it, so that was really nice to see and nice to be part of and we will just keep building from there. It feels really good to dig out of where we started. It wasn’t good at the start,” said Kahne.
Kahne finished seventh at Daytona. The season has started out on a high note for Kahne, as he hopes to continue the momentum throughout the 2017 season.
The past few seasons in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for Kasey Kahne, since he moved to Hendrick Motorsports in 2013, have not been the best. Kahne is considered the “underperforming” driver of the organization.
Towards the end of the 2016 season, things began to look up for Kahne. He believes that the performance at the end brought high optimism going into the 2017 season. “I think it is more optimism and just feeling good about where we went last year.”
“we know where we made those gains as a company and as a team because we made them in both areas and we will just get better from there.”
With those gains, the team for Kahne feels “good about it and is excited to get the season started.” However, Kahne feels that optimism comes from the way the season ended with Jimmie Johnson winning the championship and Chase Elliott winning the Rookie of the Year as well as the gains the team made in the last 12 races of 2016. “We know where we made those gains as a company and as a team because we made them in both areas and we will just get better from there.”
When it comes to the offseason, many believe that drivers go off and leave the team with the work, but that is not the case when it comes to the No. 5 team. “Since Monday after Homestead I have been with Keith (Rodden, crew chief), I’ve been with our engineers and all of us as a team, from the pit crew side to the road guys, the guys building the cars, we have been a team and we have been working to progress in those same areas that we made the gains in. We have had a couple of months to do that, so I feel like that is a lot of hard work,” said Kahne. “Everybody is working hard, but for us we are going in the right direction and it is going to show this year and I’m looking forward to that.”
For Kahne, winning is the goal, but running consistently in the top-10 gives them “fair share of shots to win, whether it’s a stage or the final stage; I’m looking forward to that.” Kahne is looking forward to having faster cars and being a better driver behind the wheel.
With a sixth-place finish as Pocono on Monday, Kasey Kahne has put the past in the rear view mirror and is focusing on a stretch of races that he expects to perform well at.
In the latter part of the 400-mile event at Pocono, Kahne surged through the field to be the third Hendrick Motorsports cars in the top six, Jimmie Johnson crashed out on Lap 122.
“Our car was real solid,” Kahne said post-race in Pocono. “I think we can take something similar to Michigan next week, it’s a similar racetrack in a lot of ways.”
Sitting 18th in the point standings, 13 markers behind the Chase cutoff, Kahne and the No. 5 team are coming to a string of racetracks that the team has normally ran well at.
Kahne has won at each of the next two race tracks, Michigan and Sonoma. In his career the summer months have fared well for him. He’s won at tracks including New Hampshire, Pocono and Bristol in a little over four years with Hendrick Motorsports.
Compared to last season, the No. 5 team is sits 10 positions further back through 14 events. However, it was the summer months that led to the downfall of Kahne and his race team in 2015.
In the final 12 races leading up to the Chase in 2015, Kahne averaged a 22.6 average finish, dropping him from eighth to 18th in the standings. That’s where he finished the season in points, the lowest since 2010 when he was 20th in the point’s, driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.
“I’m frustrated a lot,” Kahne said of his season. “I hate running bad. I’m not happy with the results. Two weeks in a row at Charlotte we should have been competing for top fives and we had no chance.”
The No. 5 car has an average finish of 16.7 thus far in 2016, having yet to lead a single lap.
His three Hendrick Motorsports teammates have combined to lead 360 laps, including a race-high 51 by Chase Elliott in Pocono.
Kahne believes that this next stretch of races could make, or break his year. Paired with crew chief Keith Rodden for the second consecutive season, the duo needs to perform up to Hendrick Motorsports standards.
“This is good for momentum just to know that we hit on a couple of things with the car,” Kahne said after finish sixth. “I look forward to running something very similar at Michigan and then we’ll go to Sonoma and that’s probably my favorite racetrack. Hopefully we can run really well and start clicking off top 10s each week in order to get into Victory Lane.”
Kahne has two top-five finishes so far this season with a pair of fourth-place efforts at Richmond and Dover. In each of the past two seasons, the No. 5 car finished in the top five, three times.
As the circuit comes to some of Kahne’s favorite tracks, he must continue to put a line of consistency on the board in order to make this year’s addition of the Chase. If not, it will be his third consecutive season of finishing 15th or worse in the point standings.
On Wednesday, it was announced that long-time crew crew chief Tony Gibson would be suspended one race due to a lug nut violation during the Coca-Cola 600. Team engineer Johnny Klausmeier stepped in and had the right pit strategy to go to the end on gas, while others ran out.
"It's an amazing feeling when you drive into Victory Lane on any weekend at any track," Busch said post-race. "It makes you think of all the hard work that everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing does on this car. To be in position is what it's all about. Johnny Klausmeier gave me the ball and said 'hey you're two laps short, go get it for us.' Each week we've been in a position so far and we hadn't quite sealed the deal and we're going to enjoy this win."
At the beginning of the last stint of the race, Busch was told that he was two laps short on gas, which is five miles around the "Tricky Triangle." Working with an intern crew chief, it's a pass-fail estimation because the team is working with a calculator.
Next week would have marked exactly one year since Busch's last win at Michigan. Coming into Pocono he sat second in the point standings with a series-high 11 top-10 finishes.
After leading four laps earlier in the event, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was passed on the last restart and could never regain the track position that he had lost. Crew chief Greg Ives ensured him that the No. 88 car would make it to the end on fuel and the No. 41 car could not.
"I didn't do what I needed to do on that last restart," Earnhardt said post-race. "The No. 41 car got a run on us and he shouldn't have. I think if I could have got in front of him, I would have been able to hold on to that position. The No. 41 car got a great run on us and we couldn't get him back. I knew even though we were matching him on some laps that I wasn't going to get any closer than I was."
This marks the fourth time that Earnhardt has finished second in 2016, which leads the series. It's the first time that he has had a top-10 finish since Bristol in mid-April.
Starting from pole, Brad Keselowski led just one lap and had to overcome two pit road penalties on Lap 21 and Lap 22 for an unimproved body modification. In the closing laps he was able to go from sixth-place up to third, to record his fifth top-five finish of the season.
"The last four or five weeks we've had really strong runs," Keselowski said. "It seems like a bunch of seconds and thirds. Not quite the finish we want, but it was a good effort from our team."
Leading a career-high and race-high 51 laps, Chase Elliott came home fourth on Monday. The middle stage of the race is where the No. 24 car shined, at one point having five former Sprint Cup champions behind him in the running order. Though he was disappointed with a fourth-place finish he was able to record his fifth top-five finish of the season.
Joey Logano led the opening 17 laps of the event, but the team had to overcome an incident with Ryan Newman and patch the left rear corner of the racecar. Like his Team Penske teammate, Keselowski, he was able to rebound through adversity to pick up his fourth top-five finish of 2016.
Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney rounded out the top 10.
Defending race winner, Martin Truex, Jr. finished 19th, while overcoming adversity throughout the weekend. He was scheduled to be the leader after a Lap 122 caution, getting off the pit road first, but cut a tire.
Kyle Busch came up short of his first first career win at Pocono, finishing in 31st. Ryan Newman got into the rear of his car, sending him into the outside wall on Lap 109. The No. 18 car was 10 laps off the pace.
Just passed halfway Tony Stewart got loose and crashed into his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Danica Patrick. The duo of teammates finished 32nd and 34th after Stewart ran in the top 10 the first half of the race.