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NASCAR Cup: Kasey Kahne wins wreck-filled late race at Indianapolis

Kasey Kahne celebrates his win of the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Kasey Kahne celebrates his win of the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kasey Kahne won the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday, claiming his first Brickyard 400 win and snapping a 102-race losing streak with his first win since 2014.

“To win at this track is unreal,” Kahne said. “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. 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.”

Kahne’s win came late in a race that was delayed by three red flags — one a nearly two-hour red flag for lightning and then rain after 12 laps — and two overtimes that resulted in the race extending from a scheduled 160 laps to 167 laps. Still the race ended under caution because of a Denny Hamlin wreck.

The yellow flag waved 13 times, not including the race ending caution, and Kahne was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver still in the race at the checkered flag. Jimmie Johnson almost made it to the end after racing into the top-10 from a start in the back, but he was retired by, possibly, a blown engine in the closing laps.

“I’m not sure I was blowing up,” Johnson said. “I was definitely smoking and it was definitely engine oil smoke. I could smell that. I didn’t know where it was coming from and I had decent grip through [turns] one and two, and so I went into turn three. I had a shot to win the Brickyard 400 for the fifth time, and I was hoping one, the engine would live, and two, we would make it through turns three and four. And I got really loose going into the corner, so I don’t know if I spun out in my own oil or if it was an aero situation, but I was so close to my fifth win here at the Brickyard.”

HMS teammates Chase Elliott and Dale Earnhardt Jr. blew engines earlier in the race, with Elliott losing his engine in the first 50-lap stage of the race and Earnhardt’s engine blowing on lap 76.

“We went down a cylinder and then started blowing smoke out the pipes,” Elliot said. “I don’t know what it was. We’ll dig into it and see. But, I’ve been racing Hendrick engines since 2013, and this is the first engine problem I’ve ever had. So, I’ll take those odds all day long. We still have the best engine shop in the business and stuff’s going to happen. We’re pushing it as everyone is. So, we’ll move on to next week and see what we’ve got there.”

Kyle Busch and Truex were frontrunners throughout the first 100 laps of the race, with Busch leading the first 71 laps after starting on the pole and winning both of the two 50-lap stages that made up those first 100 laps. He lost the lead through pit strategy, giving up the lead to pit under a caution and restarting ninth behind drivers who stayed out. He retook the lead on lap 87.

Truex got up to second by the time the yellow flag waved for a Corey LaJoie wreck on lap 10 and ran second two Busch until he and Busch wrecked racing for the lead with 50 laps to go.

“I just got loose and wrecked him; totally my fault,” Truex said. “Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that, and obviously, it was my fault. I hate it for Kyle; he had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing. Glad I was able to get out; fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately, I’m okay and we’ll live to race another day.”

With the two frontrunners out of the race, Matt Kenseth inherited the lead, a lead he gave up for a green-flag pit stop with about 30 laps remaining. Pit strategies varied in the final laps, with Brad Keselowski and others stretching their fuel mileage with hopes of another caution.

“”We just – you know, cautions always kind of breed cautions, and, you know, with those stages and all that stuff you get those extra caution and just can’t get it to fall our way,” Kenseth said. “We had a good Camry today. We had the third-best car and the two best cars wrecked each other, so I thought we were going to have a shot at a win if it would have went green to the end. Just got that caution.”

They got several more cautions at the close of the race, and one with 10 laps remaining was perfectly timed for Kahne, as he had pitted under green just before the yellow. When everyone else, except Newman, pitted under the yellow, Kahne stayed out and inherited the lead.

Keselowski was first out of the pits, and when the race restarted, he pushed Kahne out in front of Newman and took second for himself. Kahne and Keselowski ran one-two for the remainder of the race.

Newman finished third, Joey Logano was fourth, and Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and A.J. Allmendinger.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on July 24, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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