Kahne records first NASCAR Cup Series win since 2014
SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kasey Kahne claimed his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win since 2014 and snapped a 102-race losing streak with a victory Sunday in the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It was his first career Brickyard 400 win.
Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman finished second and third, respectively, as the race finished under caution after two overtime restarts. A Denny Hamlin flat tire resulted in the race-ending wreck. Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.
In addition to racing each other, NASCAR competitors raced darkness after the race was red-flagged for nearly two hours for lightning and rain after 12 laps. The red flag waved two more times for track cleanup after late-race wrecks. In all, the yellow flag was brought out 13 times.
Kenseth inherited the lead with 50 laps to go when previous front-runners — his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. — wrecked while racing for the lead. Kevin Harvick moved into second.
Pit strategies varied in the final 50 laps, and when the front-runners pitted under green with about 30 laps to go, Keselowski, among others, stayed out, gambling for another caution. He and the others who stayed out got multiple cautions over the course of the remaining laps, the last one sending the race into overtime.
The 10th caution came at the perfect time for Kahne. He pitted just before a wreck involving Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Clint Bowyer with about 10 laps remaining. After a red flag for track cleanup, Kahne stayed out while almost everyone else pitted and restarted with the lead.
Kahne was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver still in the race at the finish. Chase Elliott blew his engine late in the first stage of the race, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost an engine in stage two. A flat tire resulted in a Jimmie Johnson wreck that brought the yellow flag out and sent the race into overtime.
Kyle Busch dominated the first 100 laps of the 160-lap race, including winning each of the first two 50-lap stages. Truex ran second to Busch throughout the first two stages and finished second to him in both. However, during the caution at the end of stage two, Truex got off pit road ahead of Busch to restart with the lead.
The yellow flag waved again a few laps later for a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wreck. On the resulting restart, with about 50 laps remaining, Truex and Busch wrecked racing for the lead. Truex's car caught fire, and both drivers were retired from the race.
Kyle Busch started on the pole, and by the time the yellow flag waved for the first time for a Corey LaJoie wreck on lap 10, Truex had joined Kyle Busch up front in second. Their domination of the first two positions continued after a nearly two-hour delay for lightning in the area that was followed by rain at the track.
Kyle Busch led and Truex ran second until they pitted on lap 72, while several others stayed out during a caution for J.J. Yeley. Jones was the leader on the restart, while Busch restarted ninth.
Ryan Blaney took the lead from Jones on the restart, as Busch and Truex made their way back toward the front. On lap 87, Busch passed Blaney for the lead, and soon after, Blaney lost second to Truex.
NOTES: Kyle Busch won both the 2015 and 2016 Brickyard 400s, but he is winless in 2017. His 2016 Brickyard 400 win was his most recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. ... Jimmie Johnson qualified fourth but had to start in the back because of a rear gear change after qualifying. Cole Whitt also started in the back because of a rear gear change, and Joey Gase started in the back after an engine change. ... Johnson leads active drivers with four Brickyard 400 wins, trailing all-time Brickyard 400 wins leader Jeff Gordon by one. ... The 2017 Brickyard 400 was the first edition of the race without Gordon in the race field, but he was the honorary pace-car driver. The 2015 Brickyard 400 was expected to be Gordon's last, but he returned last year to drive the No. 88 as a substitute for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. ... Kyle Busch led a race-high 44 laps in the 100-lap NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday but finished 12th while Cup Series regulars Paul Menard and Joey Logano finished in the top-three. Busch won the Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015 and 2016.