18 March 2013
Kahne takes exciting victory at Bristol
"Right fronts never blow out when you are up against the wall," sighed Gordon. "I was up against the wall the entire run, and as soon as I went to go under a lapped car - boom - it popped down at the bottom of the race track and went all the way to the top, and we got the wall."
He also collected Matt Kenseth along the way - both drivers were done for the day. “Not a lot either one of us could do about that,” said Kenseth afterwards.
For the restart, with just under a hundred laps remaining, it was three cars who hadn't pitted out at the front - Keselowski, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. - and then the real contenders for the race win lined up behind them: Kahne, Johnson, Hamlin, Biffle and Kyle Busch.
Keselowski was able to make his car work on the old tyres and retained the lead, while Menard and Stenhouse quickly dropped away and second place quickly became a battle between Kahne and Hamlin that was resolved in Kahne's favour, and the c5 clearly had designs on chasing down Keselowski and retaking the top spot as soon as possible as the race entered its final stages. Kyle Busch also managed to make his way through the traffic and give chase and had a ring-side seat as the battle for the lead between Keselowski and Kahne went all-out in a dramatic series of laps before the tenth and final caution of the day came out on lap 456.
And it was a significant moment: Jimmie Johnson had suffered the same fate as his team mate Kahne and had a tyre blow out on him, putting the #48 into the wall. Although he got going again, he was two laps off the pace by the time the car was hammered back into shape, and ended up classified in 22nd position.
The leaders stayed out under the ensuing caution, and at the restart on lap 459 Keselowski got a poor start and surrendered the lead to Kahne and second spot to Kyle Busch, but he was able to fend off the feisty Clint Bowyer for third place and even started to come back hard on Busch for the second spot. The only thing that was increasingly clear as the last laps ticked away was that Kasey Kahne had the pace to pull away from all three and was going to win the race by a margin of almost two seconds - a big margin on a half-mile track.
"I have always wanted to win a Cup race here, to finally do it feels really good," said Kahne in victory lane. "This is a tough track to win at, and we pulled it off today.
"This whole team stepped-up, and did an unbelievable job. The pit stops were flawless; the adjustments to the car; the preparation Friday-Saturday, and prior to that," he continued. "The engine in the car is unbelievable. I had a great day. This is a lot of fun!"
Kyle Busch held on to second place from Keselowski, and considered it a success despite not being able to match his win in the previous day's Nationwide Series race.
"We probably had a sixth- or seventh-place car today, and we ended up second with it," he admitted. "We'll take something out of that, for sure. It will move us up in the points and get us back heading in the right direction from the hole we dug ourselves the first two races. There are plenty of positives heading to Fontana next week."
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