Kasey Kahne had a horrible start to his career at Hendrick Motorsports. Every week there seemed to be a new problem, whether it was his own fault, crash at Phoenix, or something out of his control, too many to count.
He has been on a huge surge as of late and was 16th in points before this weekend’s race at Charlotte. His victory marked Rick Hendrick’s 201st career win as an owner and put Kahne one spot behind the wild spot in the chase, behind Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman.
The race started out clean and was dominated early by Greg Biffle with Marcos Ambrose being his main challenger. Kahne worked his way into the top five and hovered around fourth place through the midpoint of the race. At that point, Ambrose, who was in contention for his first win on an oval, broke a hub and finished a disappointing 32nd.
Biffle showed no signs of giving up the lead and held off many threats for the lead up until the race reached the 400-mile mark. That is when Kahne and his car came to life.
The Coca-Cola 600 is the most demanding race on crew chiefs as it goes through the most changes compared to any other race. It starts in full sun then transitions into twilight and finally into complete darkness. Kahne was able to communicate to his longtime crew chief Kenny Francis the changes he needed to his car and were able to make it better with each run. While Biffle and Kyle Busch started to fade, Kahne got faster. This is Kahne’s third career Coke 600 victory which shows that he knows what his car needs to transition with the changing conditions. This race shows which drivers are the best at feeling what their cars need and Kahne has proven to be one of the best.
So with less than 100 laps to go, it became clear that this was Kahne’s race to lose. His car was strong through turns one and two as he was able to get in the gas in the center of the corner quicker than anyone else.
One scary moment came for Kahne during the final caution period. While leaving pit road, Kahne almost collided with Carl Edwards as he was entering his pit. He and Edwards stopped to avoid the collision and the only thing lost was track position for the No. 5 team. He was quickly able to pass cars on the restart and eventually took the lead from Biffle and Hamlin.
Kahne’s win was his 13th of his career and moved him up one spot to 15th in the standings.
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