Kasey Kahne celebrates after winning at Bristol on Sunday.
BRISTOL, Tenn. — A week ago, Kasey Kahne dominated the race at Las Vegas, but problems on his final pit stop kept him out of Victory Lane.
But Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway, he took advantage of problems by defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart of the Food City 500 to grab the lead. Kahne then pulled away to a 1.7-second win over polesitter and second-place finisher Kyle Busch.
Keselowski took the high lane on the restart with 40 laps to go. But he seemed to spin his wheels as the green flag came out with Denny Hamlin plowing into the back of him. This allowed Kahne and Busch to roar by into the top two spots.
Kahne said his battle with Keselowski before the last caution was nerve-wracking.
“He was driving into the corner so hard I couldn’t really do anything on the bottom,” Kahne said. “It was just trying to get the momentum off the corner and make something happen on exit. It took awhile to do it.”
Busch spent the last 35 laps just trying to hold off Keselowski in a spirited battle for the runner-up spot. The heated duel between Busch and Keselowski allowed Kahne to pull away for the win.
Kurt Busch made a late-race charge to finish fourth, followed by Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.
The race was dominated by Kyle Busch and teammate Hamlin for the first half of race, but Jeff Gordon gambled on a two-two stop to vault into the lead on Lap 324.
That’s when the race got really interesting.
Joey Logano tried repeatedly to get around Gordon. And he was still trying to take the lead when Hamlin joined the battle for the top spot.
On Lap 347, Logano went low once again to try to get by Gordon. But as he slid back up the track, he was clipped by Hamlin. Moments later, Hamlin clipped Logano again, turning Logan sideways and backward into the wall.
This led to a heated exchange on pit road after the race when Logano went to express his displeasure with Hamlin. A member of Hamlin’s crew pushed Logano away from Hamlin’s car and then the two crews started pushing and shoving before NASCAR got things cooled down.
“I’m not going to get run over and not do something about it,” Logano said. “I’m gonna at least talk to him, so I’m done.
“I was racing for the lead and it’s frustrating. That’s a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11 car — probably the worst teammate I ever had (while at Joe Gibbs Racing). He decided to run in the back of me. I have a scorecard, and I’m not putting up with that. What goes around comes around. I had a car that could have won the race.”
Logano ended up 17th.
Hamlin apologized over the radio shortly after the incident. But after Logano stuck his head into Hamlin’s car, Hamlin wasn’t quite as apologetic.
“You really got to control your car and he slid up into me,” said Hamlin. “Really, he would have been in the garage with no radiator in it if I had not checked up twice. I didn’t mean to spin him out. “
When asked what Logano said, Hamlin replied, “He said he was coming for me. I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor.”