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2017 Brickyard 400: Kasey Kahne records first NASCAR Cup Series win since 2014

By
Amanda Vincent, The Sports Xchange
Kasey Kahne celebrates with his car owner Rick Hendrick after winning the 2017 Brickyard 400, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI
Kasey Kahne celebrates with his car owner Rick Hendrick after winning the 2017 Brickyard 400, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 23, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo

SPEEDWAY, Ind. -- Kasey Kahne claimed his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win since 2014 and snapped a 102-race losing streak with a victory Sunday in the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was his first career Brickyard 400 win.

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"To win at this track is unreal," Kahne said. "We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then. Today's strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I'm exhausted. But, an unbelievable win.

"The team just kept working. We had great pit stops. ... To win at Indy is unbelievable. I wish my son, Tanner, was here."

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Brad Keselowski and Ryan Newman finished second and third, respectively, as the race closed under caution after two overtime restarts. A Denny Hamlin flat tire resulted in the race-ending wreck.

Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five.

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"Just a lot of adrenaline going through the gearbox I guess," Newman said. "Just guys running over each other. Good run for the Velveeta Chevrolet. ... We were close. We didn't have the best race car, we had a good long-run car, but we were horrible on restarts, and that is what we needed there at the end."

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In addition to racing each other, NASCAR competitors raced darkness after the race was red-flagged for nearly two hours for lightning and rain after 12 laps. The red flag waved two more times for track cleanup after late-race wrecks. In all, the yellow flag waved 13 times.

Kenseth inherited the lead with 50 laps to go when previous front-runners -- his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. -- wrecked while racing for the lead. Kevin Harvick moved into second.

Pit strategies varied in the final 50 laps, and when the front-runners pitted under green with about 30 laps to go, Keselowski, among others, stayed out, gambling for another caution. He and the others who stayed out got multiple cautions over the course of the remaining laps, the last one sending the race into overtime.

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The 10th caution came at the perfect time for Kahne. He pitted just before a wreck involving Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Clint Bowyer with about 10 laps remaining. After a red flag for track cleanup, Kahne stayed out while almost everyone else pitted and restarted with the lead.

Kahne was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver still in the race at the finish. Chase Elliott blew his engine late in the first stage of the race, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost an engine in stage two. A flat tire resulted in a Jimmie Johnson wreck that brought the yellow flag out and sent the race into overtime.

"We went down a cylinder and then started blowing smoke out the pipes," Elliott said. "I don't know what it was. We'll dig into it and see. But, I've been racing Hendrick engines since 2013, and this is the first engine problem I've ever had, so I'll take those odds all day long. We still have the best engine shop in the business, and stuff's going to happen. We're pushing it as everyone is, so we'll move on to next week and see what we've got there."

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Kyle Busch dominated the first 100 laps of the 160-lap race, including winning each of the first two 50-lap stages. Truex ran second to Kyle Busch throughout the first two stages and finished second to him in both. However, during the caution at the end of stage two, Truex got off pit road ahead of Kyle Busch to restart with the lead.

The yellow flag waved again a few laps later for a Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wreck.

"Everybody is racing hard on the restart," Stenhouse said. "The 48 (Johnson) kind of pinched me, and I kind of checked up. When I did, my car got loose and then, when I got beside of him, I was trying to get back to the gas and just got a little bit more loose. Then, I lost it and got the inside wall.

"That was the best Sunny D Ford we've ever had here. We were really good, a lot stronger than we were yesterday in practice. That's something to hang our hats on. I thought for the most part we had a solid day running inside the top 15. That was our goal. I thought that we could have squeaked out a top 10 there if everything went right, so I'm really happy with our performance. It was just a little costly mistake there."

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On the resulting restart, with about 50 laps remaining, Truex and Kyle Busch wrecked racing for the lead. Truex's car caught fire, and both drivers were retired from the race.

Kyle Busch started on the pole, and by the time the yellow flag waved for the first time for a Corey LaJoie wreck on lap 10, Truex had joined Kyle Busch up front in second. Their domination of the first two positions continued after a nearly two-hour delay for lightning in the area that was followed by rain at the track.

Kyle Busch led and Truex ran second until they pitted on lap 72, while several others stayed out during a caution for J.J. Yeley. Jones was the leader on the restart, while Busch restarted ninth.

Ryan Blaney took the lead from Jones on the restart, as Busch and Truex made their way back toward the front. On lap 87, Busch passed Blaney for the lead and, soon after, Blaney lost second to Truex.

NOTES: Kyle Busch won both the 2015 and 2016 Brickyard 400s, but he is winless in 2017. His 2016 Brickyard 400 win was his most recent Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory. ... Jimmie Johnson qualified fourth but had to start in the back because of a rear gear change after qualifying. Cole Whitt also started in the back because of a rear gear change, and Joey Gase started in the back after an engine change. ... Johnson leads active drivers with four Brickyard 400 wins, trailing all-time Brickyard 400 wins leader Jeff Gordon by one. ... The 2017 Brickyard 400 was the first edition of the race without Gordon in the race field, but he was the honorary pace-car driver. The 2015 Brickyard 400 was expected to be Gordon's last, but he returned last year to drive the No. 88 as a substitute for the sidelined Dale Earnhardt Jr. ... Kyle Busch led a race-high 44 laps in the 100-lap NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday but finished 12th while Cup Series regulars Paul Menard and Joey Logano finished in the top-three. Busch won the Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2015 and 2016.

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