Kasey Kahne was gifted his third win at Lowe's Motor Speedway Sunday night as he earned his second Coca-Cola 600 victory. Kahne and the Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 9 team were the benefactors of Tony Stewart's misfortune with three laps to go...
Kasey Kahne was gifted his third win at Lowe's Motor Speedway Sunday night as he earned his second Coca-Cola 600 victory. Kahne and the Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 9 team were the benefactors of Tony Stewart's misfortune with three laps to go as Stewart lost a right front tire while leading and had to pit to replace his blown tire.
"It's nice to be here, this Dodge Charger was great all night long, we were one of the best cars," said Kahne. "Dale Jr. fell out, he was awesome, Tony Stewart fell out there at the end and he was awesome. Those guys are awesome, they had us beat at times tonight and we had them beat at times tonight. I just want to thank everybody. Gillett Evernham has really stepped it up in the last two or three weeks, I feel like we are getting back to where we need to be."
Kahne was fortunate enough to to earn the victory and he also jumped positions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' driver standings to occupy the 12th position.
Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Ford team rebounded from a rough finish at Darlington to finish second in the years longest race.
"It's tough with Kasey beating us two weeks in a row, but I am real excited for this team. We have had some tough luck, we needed this, we needed a good finish for the points," said Biffle. "Darlington hurt us finishing 43rd, came back,finished second tonight, what a long night."
Biffle had one of the most eventful races on the evening, having to rally back to finish second. "Nothing is uneventful here, we had so much stuff happen throughout the race," he added. "Got the lucky dog, working on the chassis, working on the car, the guys did a great job in the pits, the engine ran good, just came up a little bit short. 600 miles isn't far enough."
Even with a second place finish, Roush Fenway Racing's Biffle remained 11th in the drivers championship.
Series points leader Kyle Busch continued to have a strong season as he was able to bring his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota home in the third position. Busch overcame multiple problems including an alternator problem, unscheduled, and coming back from one lap down.
"I thought I had a tire going down there, that is how we got a lap down," said Busch. "The guys did an awesome job on pit road changing out the batteries and whatever it was, I'm sure it was an alternator problem, Tony had that same problem at Richmond. Hopefully we can figure it out and get it fixed, just sorry we didn't come home a little bit better."
Kyle Busch was able to maintain the points lead and distanced himself by four more points over second place.
Jeff Gordon, who ran near the back of the field for the entire race, was able to rebound once again and grab his second top-five finish in a row, this time bringing his No. 24 Chevy home in fourth after being a lap down early in the race.
"Well it was all Steve Letarte and this (Hendrick Motorsports) team. They came in on that last caution, topped it off with fuel and said this was our only chance to get up there and get a top-five. It was pretty interesting racing the No. 99 and No. 88," said Gordon. "Some of those guys were racing for fuel mileage, they would push me and I would let em go, then I'd get back by them. Then the No. 99 ran out there and we were trying to stay ahead of the No. 88. Luckily we made it."
Gordon though, clearly voiced his frustration with his team and still thinks there is room for improvement. "You know what, we need to qualify better and we needed track position. Our car looked terrible, it wasn't as bad as it looked," he said. "We saw that one time we got up front there when we were trying to get our lap back and I ran with the guys in the top-five. Unfortunately we couldn't ever get that track position until right there at the end."
In fifth position was the model of consistency for Hendrick Motorsports this year, the No. 88 Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was interesting to note that all the finishers in the top-five positions rebounded from trouble early in the race. Earnhardt Jr. was leading the race, lost a tire, hit the wall, and still was able to rebound to finish fifth.
"We just saved gas at the end, we came in, got topped off with about 62 to go, I was about two laps short and needed to save two laps," said Earnhardt Jr. "So Jeff (Gordon) and I sort of drafted a little bit, lifted real early getting in the corners and made it to the end. We ran good tonight and I'm proud of my team. We blew a tire into three, tore the car up pretty bad and I thought we were done, then I got motivated again. Then the car wasn't as fast and we were just trying to hang on. We got lucky, same way them guys did last year. We'll take it."
Earnhardt Jr. remains in third in the drivers championship fight.
The No. 31 of Jeff Burton finished sixth and remained second in the drivers standings.
Matt Kenseth and the No. 17 team came home seventh. Elliott Sadler and the No. 19 team brought home a good finish and wound up eighth.
Ninth was the No. 99 of Carl Edwards who was running in the third position on the final lap but ran out of gas and rolled across in ninth.
Rounding out in the tenth position was the No. 44 of David Reutimann. This finish was the first top-ten finish of Reutimann's Cup career.
Sam Hornish Jr. finished an outstanding 13th and it is the best finish of his Cup career. Hornish Jr. also ran second during the All-Star Sprint race a week earlier.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now heads to Dover International Raceway on June 1st for round 14 of the championship chase.