NSCS: Kasey Kahne wins third career Coca-Cola 600

Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

There was a time, earlier this year, that Kasey Kahne couldn’t even lead a lap when starting from the pole.

Sunday night Kahne didn’t lead a lap at the beginning, but he did lead the most important lap, the last one, for the third time in his career in the season’s longest race. For Kahne it is the first time that he has won this season and the first time that he has won a race with his new Hendrick Motorsports team.

After spending a year, and winning a race at Red Bull Racing, Kahne made his long awaited debut at Hendrick Motorsports, but things didn’t go the way that he wanted. Despite getting poles at Las Vegas and Martinsville, Kahne had not been in contention to win a race.

“At times you could look at it and get down, we were down, but we stayed as confident as we could,” Kahne told Speed reporters after the race in victory lane.

However, things started to go his way starting at Texas, when he was able to grab a top-10, the first signs of life in his 2012 season.

“Mr. Hendrick was who I was most concerned with [disappointing with bad runs] since I couldn’t finish a race the first five weeks,” Kahne said to Speed channel reporters after the race.  ”We have had speed and showed that off the last seven weeks.”

To get the win at the longest race in the NASCAR season, he would have to get past a very tough, and very fast Ford of Greg Biffle.

Biffle came to Charlotte with a fast car, and he was the car that everyone was chasing all night. Leading a total of 209 of the 400 laps in the event, Biffle was dominant and it was clear if another driver wanted to win, they would have to out run Biffle.

While Biffle was out front leading the marathon race, Kahne was quietly making his way through the field waiting for a chance to move from the pack and make his way to the front.

It turned out that for Kahne that moment would come after halfway and after pitstop made his car run better on the speedway. Kahne and Biffle started battling for the lead, when a caution appeared for debris in turn one.

After that, Kahne had to battle Biffle and Hamlin, as well as clean air to secure the 201st win for Rick Hendrick’s team.

“It felt really good to put together and finish a race,” Kahne said after the race.

After the restart, Kahne was shuffled back in the pack because two drivers gambled and stayed out. On fresh tires, Kahne was able to use the high line and cruise to the lead.

From then on, it was all Kahne. Despite a few laps that were led because of a final set of green flag pit-stops, Kahne became the dominant car and cruised to victory in his 300th career start. It is the third time in the last three weeks (including the non points paying All-Star) race that a Rick Hendrick driver has gone to victory lane.

It is also Kahne’s fourth career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the third Coca-Cola 600 win.

“We always ran really well here,” Kahne said about Charlotte. “Just the way we rotate through the corner.”

This race was the fastest Coca-Cola 600 in the 53 year history of the event. Clocking in at 3 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds, Sunday’s race broke the record previously held by the 1999 event.

Rounding out the top-five, Hamlin finished in second, Kyle Busch finished in third, Biffle finished fourth and Brad Keselowski finished in  fifth.

Even though he faded and ultimately finished in fourth, Biffle was able to hold on and extend the points lead. He now leads by 10 points over his teammate, Matt Kenseth.

Next week the Sprint Cup Series will be at Dover Speedway.

Coca-Cola 600 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 Caddill
  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. A.J. 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

 

 

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