The idiom 'always the bridesmaid and never the bride' doesn't apply to Kasey Kahne anymore. After six career second place finishes, Kahne finally earned his first career NASCAR Nextel Cup series win at Richmond International ...
The idiom 'always the bridesmaid and never the bride' doesn't apply to Kasey Kahne anymore. After six career second place finishes, Kahne finally earned his first career NASCAR Nextel Cup series win at Richmond International Raceway tonight.
Pole sitter Kahne battled with Tony Stewart all evening, but in the end the No. 9 Evernham Dodge was better on the short runs. A late race caution at lap 390 bunched the field allowing Stewart to restart close on Kahne's heels at lap 394. Kahne, however, held off Stewart and jumped out to a sizeable lead to clinch the victory.
"What an unbelievable feeling," said Kahne. "For real, I was pretty nervous. I have been leading races before and never won them...we were better out front it was just a matter of getting position."
Kahne achieved his first win in 47 Cup series starts, the first win for the resurected Charger and Dodge's first win of the year. The victory also makes Kahne eligible for the Nextel All-Star Challenge next weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, NC.
"This was one of our worst racetracks last year," Kahne said. "We struggled here every race. We never crashed. We just couldn't run good. We came out here and tested and made a few changes and the car was just awesome all night long. It was fun racing Tony Stewart.to have Tony on my heels the whole race is pretty awesome to me."
"The No. 9 was getting smaller on smaller," said Stewart of the final laps. "We had a whole mirror full of Ryan Newman and the great thing is that the top three guys were short track and open wheel guys tonight. And if we were going to run second to anybody, the kid who won the race tonight - Kasey Kahne - that's the guy to run second to.
"I'm just really proud of him and it brings back memories when I was here in 1999 and got that first win and Dale Earnhardt was the first guy to see me after the race to congratulate me. It's an awesome night."
Ryan Newman scored his fifth top-10 of the season with third.
"We were almost in the right place at the right time," said Newman. "I'll bet Kasey is shaking inside and out right now. He's an awesome racecar driver. Three open wheel guys finished in the top three, and that's great. I wish we could have won for some different reasons, but Kasey did an awesome job, drove a smart race and had a really fast racecar.
"It's good for us as a team to run in the top five two weeks in a row. We've struggled to do that this year. We've struggled on track. Hopefully we can keep it up."
Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick complete the top five.
"We just got back on a pit stop and had to use our car up to get back up there," said Harvick. "Once you get up there, those top ten cars become really hard to pass. All in all it was a good night. I thought we might be able to get second or third and pick up a couple of spots.
"We can't complain. We've had good racecars the last few weeks, and tore them up and wound up wrecking and finishing 12th or 14th. To finish as such, that's what we needed to do."
Notwithstanding Busch's fourth place run, it was a miserable night for Hendrick Motorsports. Hendrick's platinum driver's Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon both encountered difficulties that rendered them unable to complete the event.
"It was just a chain reaction deal," said Johnson, who finished 40th. "I got hit from behind. Down in the inside wall, when I was making my lap around. I tried to get back to pit road and went down the backstretch and my steering failed. When I climbed on the brakes, all the camber in the car and the castor in it, I braked and I turned right into the inside wall again.
"If it didn't hurt that I backed it into the wall the first time, it killed it the second time."
Teammate Jeff Gordon hit the wall and ultimately had to take the No. 24 Chevy behind the wall with suspension damage. Gordon finished 39th.
"It was the stupidest thing I have ever done in my life," Gordon said. "A car spun in front of mm and just nothing but smoke in front of me. The spotter said go high, and I was just slowing down trying to go to the high line. I ran right straight into the wall all by myself."
Despite difficulties Johnson continues to head the 2005 Nextel Cup class. Greg Biffle (-41), Jeff Gordon (-124), Elliott Sadler (-149), Kurt Busch (-155), Tony Stewart (-165), Ryan Newman (-192), Kevin Harvick (-198), Jamie McMurray (- 211) and Mark Martin (-218) complete the top ten.
Notably, defending race winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. struggled all day in the No. 8 DEI Chevy and finished 14th. The poor run drops Earnhardt out of the top ten into 11th, 229 points in the rears.
"We had a decent car," said Earnhardt. "It wasn't that great. I got tight and during the middle part of the race we lost a lap. I made the lap up luckily and got the lucky dog. I was able to get a decent finish."
There were nine cautions for 53 laps and 21 lead changes among six drivers.