Matt Kenseth held off the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Kasey Kahne in the closing laps of the Irwin Tools Night Race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Friday night to drive his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota into victory lane for the fifth time this year.
Kahne, meanwhile, posted his fourth runner-up finish of the season.
"I think Kasey's getting tired of battling me," Kenseth said. "He's a heck of a talent. I think we've finished first and second a few times this year.
The No. 42 Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet of Juan Pablo Montoya finished third.
Kenseth led a race-high 149 laps, but prior to his lengthy stint up front, the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Carl Edwards was the dominant car. Edwards led 119 laps before engine issues retired him from the race prematurely just after a restart that followed a lap-376 caution.
"The car was almost perfect, and the engine ran awesome until it broke," Edwards said. "We had great pit stops, and I think we've got some good things to get forward to. This is what we needed, a race like this, with the engine aside. I think we were the dominant car here tonight."
Kenseth took over from there and remained up front the rest of the way. Pit strategies varied throughout the race, with a handful of drivers opting to stay out after making their last pit stops on lap 336. Kenseth and the No. 15 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Clint Bowyer were among those. Kenseth was able to go the rest of the way, but Bowyer, after running near the front for much of the race, fell just short, running out of fuel on the final lap.
Kahne, though, made one final pit stop on lap 441 during a yellow flag. He was able to make his way up through the field on four fresher tires and was up to second by lap 480 of the 500-lap race. Kahne was able to pull up beside Kenseth multiple times in the final laps but was unable to clear him and take the lead.
"I had a really good Farmers Insurance Chevrolet," Kahne said. "(Crew chief) Kenny (Francis) made a great call to come in and get those tires. We were rubbing all the way down into turn four but I just couldn't clear him."
Kahne was frustrated with his second-place finishing, insisting after the race that he "clearly had the better car."
The No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Brian Vickers finished fourth and the No. 22 Penske Racing Ford of Joey Logano rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Paul Menard, the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Jeff Gordon, the No. 9 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford of Marcos Ambrose, the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Greg Biffle and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr.
The yellow flag waved 11 times throughout the race for a total of 74 caution laps. A seven-car wreck with 54 laps to go that involved the No. 39 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet of Ryan Newman, the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Denny Hamlin, the No. 2 Penske Racing Ford of Brad Keselowski, the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr., and the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet of Kevin Harvick, among others, briefly brought out the red flag.
Series points leader Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, was also involved in an incident that brought out a yellow flag just past lap 350.
It's racing; stuff happens," Johnson said, also commenting that it was no big deal since he's already locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup.