Kasey Kahne took the lead through turn two after a strong restart with two laps to go at Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver was on his way to his first win in 102 races, but he was going to have to hold off a hard-charging Brad Keselowski to do it.
That was until Denny Hamlin’s car started smoking, and eventually caused a wreck on the back stretch behind him.
Cars were visibly wrecking a good five seconds or so before NASCAR decided to throw the caution flag.
NASCAR waited for Kasey Kahne to cross the overtime line.
NASCAR, Overtime Line hand Kasey Kahne Brickyard 400
Before that attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, NASCAR saw five caution flags in the final 27 laps of the race, two of them being red flags. The two red flags from the accidents combined into 44 minutes and 36 seconds worth of delays. That’s on top of a one-hour, 47-minute rain delay red flag.
The finish had been coming for a while.
However, that doesn’t justify the call from NASCAR to end the race early.
It was clear that cars had started wrecking a prior to the accident, so why wait to throw the caution?
Well, NASCAR wanted to get that race over with.
They didn’t need anything else to happen.
They had the delays. There was still plenty of drama down the stretch.
They ultimately had there fairy-tale ending.
Kahne breaks his winless streak
Even with all of this, Kahne was more than deserving of his win at the yard of bricks.
On three separate occasions, Kahne held off Keselowski on restarts, and showed that his No. 5 car was the best in the field, or at least with what remained of the field at the end of the day.
The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Kahne, though.
It has already been announced that Alex Bowman will be taking over the No. 88 car in 2018, and neither Chase Elliot nor Jimmie Johnson will be going anywhere soon.
With William Byron raking in success of Jr. Motorsports in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Kahne has been put under the pressure to perform for Hendrick Motorsports.
Now, that is exactly what Kahne did on Saturday, as he is now poised to make a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
Although it seems like Kahne’s spot is guaranteed, this season has shown more than ever that anything can happen.
With six races to play before the playoffs start, some big names sit without wins yet, and with a road course looming, any wild card could sneak into the deck.
|Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings|
|1||Martin Truex Jr.||3||780||x|
|5||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||2||443||x|
|22||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||0||353||-213|
X – Clinched into the playoffs by wins
July 30: Pocono Raceway
August 6: Watkins Glen International
Aug. 13: Michigan International Speedway
Aug. 19: Bristol Motor Speedway
September 3: Darlington Raceway
Sep. 9: Richmond International Raceway