Who’s in the headline – Kasey Kahne has been rumored to be out of his ride for two or three years. While the talk seems to be more intense of late, Kahne and his No. 5 team have kept their nose to the grindstone. A fortunate pit call on lap 148 in the Brickyard 400 resulted in Kahne to be in prime position, which he translated into a strong late-race restart to put him in prime position to claim the victory when a caution came out during overtime.
What happened – Kyle Busch won the pole and dominated the first two stages of the race. He was looking to score his third consecutive victory in the Brickyard. The race was delayed nearly two hours at the lap 12 mark thanks to a rain shower. Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the class of the field until they got together on a restart, crashing hard enough to be eliminated from the race with 48 laps to go.
From there on, Matt Kenseth looked poise to take the victory, but some pit strategy came into play. Trevor Bayne was potentially going to play the fuel mileage game and snag the victory. With nine laps to go, a caution for a hard crash on the frontstretch ruined Bayne’s fuel effort and found Kahne in the ideal position to win the race. Another caution on the restart was followed by another restart that saw Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson go into Turn 3, three-wide for the lead. Johnson lost control of his car and smacked the outside wall. Another huge wreck happened on the subsequent restart and then a final caution flew during a second Green-White-Checkered that was decided by the overtime line.
Why you should care – This victory for Kahne has sealed the fate of Joey Logano, who most likely needs to win another race to make the playoffs. Clint Bowyer is also perilously close to having to win in order to make the playoffs, although a points berth is still a slim possibility. Barring an enormous collapse by Chase Elliott or three more unique winners, he will be the third Hendrick car in the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing looks to have three teams poised to be in the playoffs as well, while Bowyer is hoping to make it three for SHR.
What your friends are talking about – Starting races at 3 p.m. ET in the summer, at tracks without lights, is stupid. No matter how ridiculous it turns out, NASCAR continues to let the television networks dictate their policy. It will happen again next weekend at a track that is further east and will get darker even earlier. NASCAR used to start races like the Firecracker 400 at 11:00 a.m. ET because it rains in the afternoon during the summer. It is time for intelligence to take hold in the decisions about race start times.
Sanity needs to come to race control when it comes to red flags and caution calls. The red flew for the crash with Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray. Three laps later, when another wreck happened on the front straightaway that was going to eat up more laps late in the race, the race was just put under caution. If green flag laps at the end of the race matter, or any time during the race, the red flag needs to come out. Wasting laps when an obvious lengthy cleanup is about to occur is simply uncalled for.
Alex Bowman was announced as the driver of the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports in 2018. Bowman has 81 career starts in the Cup Series thus far, and he’s been doing test driving for HMS this season, as well as working on the Chevrolet simulator. The status of Kahne for next season is still up in the air as Hendrick is going to be hard pressed to not move William Byron up to the Cup Series after he notched his third victory of the year at Indianapolis in the XFINITY Series this weekend.
The NASCAR Racing Experience and the Richard Petty Driving Experience are being consolidated into one organization. The combined company will offer racing fans the chance to pilot Cup stock cars at over 20 racetracks throughout the United States. While there are still a few other racing experiences operating in the country, the combined efforts of these two giants in the industry represent the vast majority of the experiences.
Kyle Busch had everything in line to run the Indianapolis 500, but he was shut down by “the boss.” It isn’t clear whether that is his wife or his team owner, but the best bet would be Joe Gibbs. Whatever the case may be, Busch had the sponsorship sold and a team lined up before he was forced to pull the plug. It is difficult to pull off the double these days with the 500 starting later in the day, but no doubt one of racing’s most talented drivers would love to take his shot at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Speaking of sponsorship and Richard Petty, people at Richard Petty Motorsports are looking for a company to come on board and sponsor Darrell Wallace Jr. in order to go back to a two-car organization. Petty says that he hasn’t spoken directly with Wallace about an agreement to drive for them because of the lack of sponsorship. If they can manage to raise the funds, RPM will gladly field a car for the young NASCAR star.
Who is mad – The class of the field up until lap 112 was Kyle Busch. Busch led 87 laps, which was, by far, the most in the race. He made the call to not orchestrate a restart on lap 111 and raced Truex for the lead. Truex got loose, slid up the track and took both of them out of contention for the win. For the seventh time this season, Busch saw a race where he was dominant get away from him without a victory.
The other car on Sunday that was head and shoulders above the rest was Truex. He and Busch easily left the rest of the field in their dust repeatedly during the race before the incident. Truex was looking to add a Brickyard win to his resume and this was most likely his best shot to this point. In the end a mistake on his part cost him and Busch an easy victory.
Who is happy – Matt DiBenedetto notched his first finish above 32nd at Indianapolis. This was DiBenedetto’s second top-10 result of the season for the No. 32 team, which are the only two top-10 finishes in the team’s history. DiBenedetto now has three top tens in his career, posting a sixth-place effort last April at Bristol Motor Speedway for BK Racing.
JTG-Daugherty Racing had their second best day as a two-car organization with both of their cars coming home in the top ten. Chris Buescher crossed the line in ninth, while AJ Allmendinger ended up in tenth. Aside from Daytona in July, where they came home eighth and tenth respectively, this is their best combined finish of 2017. With the series heading to were Buescher won last year, the spirits have to be high at JTG-Daugherty.
When the checkered flag flew:
Kasey Kahne won his 18th victory in 488 career starts.
This is Kahne’s first triumph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The victory is the first of the season for Kahne.
18 wins ties Kahne for 45th on the All-Time list with Geoffrey Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.
Kahne is the third Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the Brickyard and this is the 10th win for HMS in the race.
Brad Keselowski finished in second for his best career finish at IMS.
This is Keselowski’s sixth top two run of the season.
Keselowski has finished runner-up 21 times in his career.
The finish puts Keselowski in a tie for 38th on the All-Time second place list with Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ernie Irvan.
Rounding out the Podium was Ryan Newman with his second top-three finish of the season.
The third place is Newman’s second-career finish on the Podium at IMS.
Newman’s 51 career top three wins ranks him 47th on the All-Time podium list tied with Speedy Thompson.
Rookie of the Race was Daniel Suarez. That is his ninth such win of the year. Erik Jones has eight and Ty Dillon has three.
Twenty races into the season there have been thirteen different winners this year. With six races left before the playoff cutoff, if there are five new winners, someone with a win will not make the playoffs. That said, there most likely won’t be 17 unique winners. For now you have Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. tied with most wins of the year with three. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., with two wins, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne with one each. In the 13 winners Joey Logano is not eligible for the playoffs by virtue of his triumph being considered encumbered at Richmond. Logano will have to win again to make the playoffs based on a victory.
The remaining six drivers in points and their position:
- Kyle Busch
- Jamie McMurray
- Chase Elliott
- Matt Kenseth
The drivers who have scored playoff points so far this season and their total:
Martin Truex Jr – 29
Jimmie Johnson – 16
Kyle Larson – 13
Brad Keselowski -13
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 10
Kevin Harvick – 8
Ryan Blaney – 8
Denny Hamlin – 7
Kyle Busch – 7
Ryan Newman – 5
Kurt Busch – 5
Austin Dillon – 5
Kasey Kahne – 5
Chase Elliott – 2
Matt Kenseth – 2
Joey Logano – 1
What is in the cooler (one to six beers where one is a stinker and six is an instant classic)
Twitter was abuzz about what a great race the Brickyard was. Many fans noted it was entertaining, which it certainly was, but it was far from a great race. There were no on-track passes, except for Busch getting around Blaney during the second stage. There was drama and an interesting finish, although the overtime line played a role again thanks to the darkness that was falling over the track. It is generously getting three cold Hinchtown Hammerdown beers from Flat 12 Bierworks.
Where do you point your DVR for next week – Off to another flat 2.5-mile track next weekend, albeit the scalene triangle that is Pocono Raceway. Coverage starts at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can also stream it on the NBC Sports App. Audio is also available on your MRN affiliate, www.motorracingnetwork.com and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.
About the author
What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
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