Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag on the half-mile oval in Briston, TN last weekend. Kahne would outlast a battle with Brad Keslelowski over the final 100 laps to take the win, after a second place finish a week ago in Las Vegas. The race had its usual share of drama and hurt feelings, as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano got into an altercation after the race, in which Logano had to be restrained by his pit crew.
Keselowski took the lead on lap 397, when all others pitted. He stayed on the track and would lead the field to the green, and battle Kahne for over 40 laps. Keselowski’s car was slower than Kahnes, however he was able to continually make the right blocking move to keep Kahne at bay. Finally on lap 446 of 500, Kahne was able to shoot to the outside and get by Keselowski. Two laps later, lapped traffic got in the way, and Keselowski returned to the lead. Kahne almost spun his car and fell back into the clutches of hard charging Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, who led the race early and looked like the car to beat, till getting sent to the back of the field on a speeding penalty.
A blown tire, ended Jimmy Johnson days and brought out the final caution, with the restart with just 39 laps to go. Keselowski got a pour jump on the green, which sent Kahne into the lead for good and would coast to his first victory of the season and 15th career win. Keselowski would get caught late by Kyle Busch and finish third. Rounding out the top five, would be Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
After the race, Logano who was spun by Hamlin on lap 390, got out of his car and went over to Hamlins before Hamlin had a chance to get out. Crews pulled Logano away from the car. The two, former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, have exchanged words back and forth on twitter since the first race of the season in Daytona.
After the race Logano declined to say what he said to Hamlin, but they both took to twitter with Hamlin getting the final tweet saying “Hush little child”.
The race didn’t go as planned for Jeff Gordon, who blew a right front tire, which shot him up in front of Matt Kenseth, and ended both of their days.
Other notes on finishes included Brian Vickers, subbing for Mark Martin finishing 8th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. another top ten at 6th and Danica Patrick continues to struggle, 5 laps down in 29th, while her boyfriend Ricky Steinhouse Jr., finished 16th.
Preview:Off to California for the Auto Club 400.
I feel like every week I say this is Jimmie Johnsons’ track. While Fontana, CA has been good to Jimmie with 10 straight top 10 finishes on the two mile speedway. Johnson has five wins and 12 top 5’s in 18 starts here.
Mark Martin will be back in the #55 this weekend, and seems focused on getting that win to make him the oldest driver with a victory. He seems to qualify well here, and over half of the race’s winners have started in the top 10. I am picking him this week.
Another few to watch, could be Dale Earnhardt Jr., who normally struggles at this track, but did finish third last year. Hendricks seems to have the new Gen 6 cars figured out, so he could be a factor. Matt Kenseth also runs well here, and Carl Edwards seems to have some momentum this season and has posted strong finishes over the years. Finally, Kurt Busch posted a top five last week, and could be poised to have another strong finish.
The drivers will have a week off due to Easter, before hitting Martinsville, followed by the first night race of the season at Texas.