“I love driving for Hendrick Motorsports,” Kasey Kahne said after the Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Ten.) Motor Speedway on Sunday. The sentiment was understandable, as Kahne was able to make that statement from victory lane, a week after posting a second-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
“This whole team was flawless again today,” Kahne said. “It’s a big win. I’m really happy.”
The win was the 11th Sprint Cup Series victory at Bristol for Hendrick Motorsports, tying the organization with Penske Racing and Roush Fenway Racing for most at the track among active teams.
Denny Hamlin led the most laps, keeping his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota out front for 117 laps of the 500-lap race, but by the end of the race, he was off the lead lap and outside the top-20. Hamlin finished 23rd after scraping the wall multiple times per lap in the final eight laps and falling off the pace so much that he was almost black flagged by NaSCAR for not maintaining minimum race speed.
Hamlin also caught the ire of former teammate and current Penske Racing driver Joey Logano after the two drivers made contact with about 150 laps to go. At the time, Jeff Gordon was the leader and Logano was running second. After an unsuccessful attempt to take the lead, Logano fell into Hamlin’s clutches and the two made contact that sent Logano’s car into the wall.
After the race, Logano spoke to Hamlin but wouldn’t discuss publicly what he told his former teammate. Hamlin, though, was willing to talk and said that Logano was lucky the incident didn’t get worse.
“You’ve got to control your car, and he slid up into me,” Hamlin said. Hamlin admitted to hitting Logano on purpose but also said that it could have been worse had he not checked up.
After battling for the lead, Logano wound up finishing 17th.
Right front tires were an issue for several drivers, including Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon went from leading to out of the race when he blew a right front tire and hit the wall with 110 laps to go.
“The right fronts never blow out when your right there against the wall,” Gordon said. “We needed points, and this is definitely not going to get us many.”
Then-second-place driver Matt Kenseth was also collected by the Gordon tire issue.
Then Gordon’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Johnson, had a right front tire issue of his own, hitting the wall and bringing out the 10th and final caution of the race with 46 laps to go.
Brad Keselowski restarted the race with the lead after the Johnson caution, but on older tires, he struggled on the restart, and Kahne was able to take the lead. Keselowski also lost second to Kyle Busch.Busch finished second after a pit road speeding penalty early in the race.
“I need to stop getting penalties and stay up front all day,” Busch said.
Keselowski also had to battle another Busch, Kyle’s older brother Kurt, late in the race. He was able to hold off Kurt Busch, though, to finish third.
Kurt Busch finished fourth, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Finishing sixth through 10th were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Paul Menard and Jamie McMurray.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR