Was it Bumper Time for Kasey Kahne at Bristol Motor Speedway?
On Saturday Night at the end of the NASCAR Sprint Cup IRWIN Tools Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne had the fastest car. He and his crew did exactly what they were supposed to. He just couldn’t pass Matt Kenseth. Should he have used his bumper to make the pass?
Kahne said, “There was a couple shots I took, and I had to have been close, but I could feel him on the right side of my car, and I just didn’t clear him. I didn’t figure out how to get by. It’s disappointing not to win here. I thought we had the best car the last 200 laps, and it was a lot of work.”
If you have watched races at Bristol, the simple answer is he should have without hesitation given Matt Kenseth the bumper and won the race. The answer is even simpler considering Kasey has been roughed up this season by Kenseth and other Joe Gibbs Racing Drivers. Specifically Matt Kenseth wrecked Kasey at Watkins Glen.
Much is made about pay backs in racing at short tracks. Bristol is just one of those and the place to do it. Not one driver or fan would have given a second thought to Kasey Kahne giving the bumper to Kenseth to win at Bristol. It was all but expected.
When executing the bump and run, as it is called, in order to win the race, the faster driver gets to the slower drivers left rear in the corner, gets them loose so they move up the track. Here is the problem. Matt Kenseth was running at the top of the track. If Kahne executed that race wining move, the one that was expected, Kenseth would have immediately hit the wall and Kahne.
Kahne said, “I was trying to get there. I would have wrecked probably both of us. It would have just been a wreck. I just tried to pass him as clean as I could, and race him as hard as I could. I thought I had him at one point. I had a good run. I tried to slide across him, but he just kept position. We were rubbing all the way down Turn 4. I just didn’t clear him. I just didn’t get it done and I’m upset with myself for not figuring out how to win tonight because I clearly had a better car at the end of the race.”
Although one might say that Kasey Kahne blew a big opportunity to get a win there, what he actually did was probably the smartest and only move he could. For that he will be rewarded by making the Chase and getting the bonus points that come with the two wins he already had.