Kasey Kahne, driving the #5 Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet, gained a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup after driving to a well earned victory in the 55th Annual Oral-B USA 500.
Kahne has 17 victories in 385 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, and this is his first victory for the 2014 season, joining his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the Sprint Cup champion. This marks three years in a row that all four Hendrick drivers have qualified.
“It’s tough! We’ve had kind of a downer year this year, but we’re in the Chase with our teammates, I have great teammates,” Kahne said referring to his 2014 season thus far. “We were kind of all over the place throughout the race. But the guys stayed with me, worked hard.”
“Those restarts, I didn’t know what would happen, but I had great restarts all night,” said Kahne, the 13th different winner in 25 of the 36 NASCAR Sprint Cup races. “That’s one of the things you have to be good at… and I struggle with restarts, so that’s big.”
Kahne took the lead from Denny Hamlin, driving the #11 Sports Clip Toyota, on the restart with 23 laps remaining. Kahne then battled the dominate car of Kevin Harvick, driving the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet, to stay in the lead remaining for the race and he looked as if he would walk away with the win, when Martin Truex Jr., driving the #78 World Vision Chevrolet and Kyle Busch, driving the #18 M&M Toyota, got together in Turns 1 and 2 causing the caution to come out on Lap 325, sending the race into NASCAR’s version off overtime.
As the cars came down pit road, before setting up the first attempt at the green-white-checkered finished, Matt Kenseth and Paul Menard, came out one and two respectively, having taken on two tires each. Menard, running second beside leader Kenseth, didn’t get a good restart, slowing down Harvick’s march to the front, as Menard bumped Harvick’s car squeezing the car of Joey Logano into the wall, hitting the back of Harvick sending the front of the #4 into the wall. With the caution out as the drivers went into Turn 1.
While making a second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish Kahne stole the lead from Kenseth on the restart and drove off to lead the final 2 laps to win by 0.574 seconds in the Oral-B 500.
Kenseth finished second, with Hamlin in third, Johnson in fourth, and Carl Edwards in fifth. Danica Patrick finished sixth (her best career Sprint Cup finish), Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, and Greg Biffle finish 7 through 10 respectively, as the battle for the final spots in the 16 driver Chase berth tightened. The field will be set after Saturday’s evening race at Richmond International Raceway, the final race for the regular season.
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond International Raceway for the final race for the regular season, in which following the race the field will be set after the Federated Auto Parts 400. Qualifying for the race will be Friday, Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. ET televised on ESPN2 with the race coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 6 on ABC.