BRISTOL, Tenn. - Kasey Kahne survived a wild afternoon at Bristol Motor Speedway, claiming the Food City 500 for his first-ever Sprint Cup victory in Thunder Valley.
Kahne, who picked up his 15th career victory, has long wanted to make a trip up to Bristol’s victory lane in a Cup car.
“I’ve always wanted to win here,” he said. “It was a big win. I just feel for myself, I really feel like it’s a big accomplishment to win here. This is a tough place. This has been a tough track for me at times and just for the whole team to step up and do it together.
“The whole team was flawless again today. Last week, today, the whole season so far. It’s been a lot of fun. Just racing Brad and Denny was tough and Jeff (Gordon) and Matt Kenseth – they were really good there, I don’t know what happened.
Kyle Busch finished second, followed by defending race winner Brad Keselowski, who now leads the points race by nine over Dale Earnhardt Jr. The duo, along with Kahne, battled for most of the final 50 laps of the race before Kahne finally eased away, winning by 1.700 seconds.
Kurt Busch was fourth with Clint Bowyer finishing fifth. Rounding out the top 10 was Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.
Busch was unhappy with himself for getting hit with a speeding penalty early in the race.
“I need to stop getting penalties and stay up front all day,” said the five-time winner. “We are trying to take too much on pit road and it is not working for us. We just need to back off. “
“These guys do an awesome job with these cars. They did a great job, I wish there was more to have there. Too tight all day. We never really had a car that was worth running on the bottom like it needed to. And on the top as well too. “
Kurt Busch was fourth with Clint Bowyer finishing fifth. Rounding out the top 10 was Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.
Keselowski, who considers BMS one of his favorite tracks, said after the race that he felt the track was the best it’s ever been.
“I say that the old Bristol isn’t back,” he said. “I quite honestly feel like this one’s better.
“…I think if you look at it objectively, this was a great race. I felt like probably the last half dozen races here have been solid races in retrospect to what we’ve seen in the past.”
While Kahne celebrated in Victory Lane, Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who were involved in an on-track incident when Hamlin got into Logano on lap 349, had a brush-up in the pits. Logano parked his car and ran to Hamlin’s car, trying to get at Hamlin who was still in the car but crew members held him back, defusing the situation.
“You got to control your car and he slipped up into me – really he would be in the garage with no radiator had I not checked up twice,” Hamlin said. “I meant to run into him, didn’t mean to spin him out. His day was fine. He still had a bad day anyway for whatever reason. We finished bad, he finished bad. So, it’s even.
“He said he was coming for me. I usually don’t see him so it’s usually not a factor.”
Logano finished 17th while Hamlin finished 23rd.
The race featured 10 caution flags for 66 laps with 17 lead changes among 10 drivers.