He didn’t lift.
On the final restart of Sunday’s beyond-chaotic Brickyard 400 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kasey Kahne stole the race lead from Brad Keselowski. And when Denny Hamlin crashed down the backstretch, the caution came out past the overtime line, ending the race under yellow.
Kahne scored his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win since 2014, snapping a 102-race winless drought toward the 18th win of his career.
“It’s been a while since I’ve won so you have to wonder,” Kahne said. “A win like today can give myself confidence, momentum and our whole team a boost, which is something we need. I feel like this is a huge win for us. It being the Brickyard means even more to me. It feels really, really good.”
Keselowski gambled on pit strategy in the closing 30 laps of the double-overtime event, leading the race for 23 laps. Bringing the field down for the final restart, he was outdueled by Kahne in Turn 1, finishing second.
It was a vicious crash by Clint Bowyer that put Keselowski in the catbird seat, as he stretched the fuel to keep the top spot. Though it was a positive moment for Keselowski, the Speedway fell silent after Bowyer’s huge hit, which was compounded by another impact from teammate Kurt Busch, Jamie McMurray and Erik Jones.
Unfortunately, the wreck with 10 laps to go was far from the only one. David Ragan had the first major impact of the afternoon, smashing the inside Turn 1 wall on Lap 56. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last Brickyard 400 race ended early when he broke a radiator after hitting Trevor Bayne.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crashed solo on the backstretch on Lap 106, when he hit head-on into the inside wall.
The moment of the race arguably happened on Lap 110 when leader Martin Truex Jr. crashed race-dominator Kyle Busch on a restart. Busch led 87 laps and was going for a three straight Brickyard victory.
On the day, three red flags waved; the first for heavy rain, the second for Bowyer’s accident and the third for a major pileup on a late restart, which took our Trevor Bayne, Michael McDowell and others.
Due to the attrition, the top 15 was more topsy-turvy as usual. Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth completed the top five while Kevin Harvick and Daniel Suarez in sixth and seventh. Matt DiBenedetto grabbed his third career top-10 finish in eighth while Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10, making for a double top-10 effort by JTG Daugherty Racing.
DiBenedetto scored his second top 10 of the season and first on a non-plate track with Go Fas Racing.
“Stand on the gas and hope for the best… that’s pretty much what I did today,” he said. “You hope it’s your day and it was our day, man. That was pretty intense.”
For Logano, a fourth-place effort stops the bleeding after a 37th-place finish last week at New Hampshire.
“I felt the two cars better than us wrecked [laughs],” Logano said. “We just didn’t capitalize. Positive side, we are mad about fourth again.”
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) July 24, 2017
— Darrell Waltrip (@AllWaltrip) July 24, 2017
— Regan Smith (@ReganSmith) July 24, 2017