Why Kahne Didn’t Move Kenseth for the Win.

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Points racing? Respect? Why didn't Kahne move Kenseth for the win?

The race came down to an all too familiar site. For the third time this year, Kasey Kahne was looking at the back bumper of the 20 car of Matt Kenseth and chasing him for the victory. With the laps winding down, Kahne vehemently tried to get along side of Kenseth but couldn’t make the pass. The analysts in the booth believed the only way Kahne could get around Kenseth was to move him. So the question that many have asked is this:

“Why didn’t Kahne put the bumper to Kenseth?”

I have read comments on many different articles and forums in the past few days regarding the lack of respect for Kasey Kahne because he did not move Kenseth for the win. This is alarming to me, because it does not take into consideration what would have happened if Kahne had put the bumper to Kenseth.

Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota wins
Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota wins

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

The answer to the question that I just asked is simple. These two drivers were hell bent on a winning. One could clearly see how dejected Kahne was after not being able to win Saturday night. People believed Kahne had the better car, but that is not true. Matt Kenseth had the better car, but did not have the better tires. The setup on the 20 enabled Kenseth to run a consistent line on much older tires (over 200 laps on right side tires) and even earlier in the race was able to pass drivers on the bottom groove which seemed nearly impossible for the rest of the field and even Kahne, who had tried that line throughout the early part of the race to no success.

The reason why Kasey Kahne did not move Matt Kenseth is because they would have both wrecked and finished poorly. We can say it was about clean racing, but we all know that Kasey has been ticked off at the Gibbs drivers (whether that is a rational thought process or not is a different story) and I feel like he would have had no issue spinning Matt Kenseth for an extra win heading into the chase.

Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

Due to the nature of the progressive banking at Bristol, these guys were running the high line. Kenseth ran the risk multiple times of sticking to this high line because he constantly ran up on lapped cars and that nearly put his chances of winning in jeopardy. Kahne was able to get alongside him using the bottom lane, but the short track master Kenseth knew that Kahne could not complete the pass using the bottom groove and also knew that if Kahne was going to bump him, he would not do it from the top lane of the track.

If Kasey Kahne was locked into the chase, or at the very least in the top 5, he would have risked wrecking them both. But Kahne was points racing last night and whether he wants to admit it or not, that was in the back of his head. Regardless of how bad he feels about losing out on another victory, I feel he made the right decision. He is now 8th in points and heading to another 1.5 mile track where he has been successful all year long.

I feel like in reality, there is not much of a feud between these two drivers. Matt Kenseth has a lot of respect for Kahne and while Kahne might be upset with the way his season has gone this year, I think they will race each other cleanly and be talked about as contenders for the title this year. Kahne proved that he has maturity to make the right decision and play it safe and that might end up paying dividends at the end of the year.

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About this article
Series NASCAR-CUP
Article type Blog
Tags bristol, busch, chase, chevrolet, daytona, gibbs, hendrick, kasey kahne, matt kenseth, points, toyota, win