Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Kasey Kahne Uses Beneficial Pit Call and Strong Restart to Capture Brickyard Victory

Who’s in the headlineKasey Kahne has been rumored to be out of his ride for two or three years. While the talk seems to be more intense of late, Kahne and his No. 5 team have kept their nose to the grindstone. A fortunate pit call on lap 148 in the Brickyard 400 resulted in Kahne to be in prime position, which he translated into a strong late-race restart to put him in prime position to claim the victory when a caution came out during overtime.

What happenedKyle Busch won the pole and dominated the first two stages of the race. He was looking to score his third consecutive victory in the Brickyard. The race was delayed nearly two hours at the lap 12 mark thanks to a rain shower. Busch and Martin Truex Jr. were the class of the field until they got together on a restart, crashing hard enough to be eliminated from the race with 48 laps to go.

From there on, Matt Kenseth looked poise to take the victory, but some pit strategy came into play. Trevor Bayne was potentially going to play the fuel mileage game and snag the victory. With nine laps to go, a caution for a hard crash on the frontstretch ruined Bayne’s fuel effort and found Kahne in the ideal position to win the race. Another caution on the restart was followed by another restart that saw Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson go into Turn 3, three-wide for the lead. Johnson lost control of his car and smacked the outside wall. Another huge wreck happened on the subsequent restart and then a final caution flew during a second Green-White-Checkered that was decided by the overtime line.

Why you should care – This victory for Kahne has sealed the fate of Joey Logano, who most likely needs to win another race to make the playoffs. Clint Bowyer is also perilously close to having to win in order to make the playoffs, although a points berth is still a slim possibility. Barring an enormous collapse by Chase Elliott or three more unique winners, he will be the third Hendrick car in the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing looks to have three teams poised to be in the playoffs as well, while Bowyer is hoping to make it three for SHR.

What your friends are talking about – Starting races at 3 p.m. ET in the summer, at tracks without lights, is stupid. No matter how ridiculous it turns out, NASCAR continues to let the television networks dictate their policy. It will happen again next weekend at a track that is further east and will get darker even earlier. NASCAR used to start races like the Firecracker 400 at 11:00 a.m. ET because it rains in the afternoon during the summer. It is time for intelligence to take hold in the decisions about race start times.

Sanity needs to come to race control when it comes to red flags and caution calls. The red flew for the crash with Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray. Three laps later, when another wreck happened on the front straightaway that was going to eat up more laps late in the race, the race was just put under caution. If green flag laps at the end of the race matter, or any time during the race, the red flag needs to come out. Wasting laps when an obvious lengthy cleanup is about to occur is simply uncalled for.

Alex Bowman was announced as the driver of the No. 88 for Hendrick Motorsports in 2018. Bowman has 81 career starts in the Cup Series thus far, and he’s been doing test driving for HMS this season, as well as working on the Chevrolet simulator. The status of Kahne for next season is still up in the air as Hendrick is going to be hard pressed to not move William Byron up to the Cup Series after he notched his third victory of the year at Indianapolis in the XFINITY Series this weekend.

The NASCAR Racing Experience and the Richard Petty Driving Experience are being consolidated into one organization. The combined company will offer racing fans the chance to pilot Cup stock cars at over 20 racetracks throughout the United States. While there are still a few other racing experiences operating in the country, the combined efforts of these two giants in the industry represent the vast majority of the experiences.

Kyle Busch had everything in line to run the Indianapolis 500, but he was shut down by “the boss.” It isn’t clear whether that is his wife or his team owner, but the best bet would be Joe Gibbs. Whatever the case may be, Busch had the sponsorship sold and a team lined up before he was forced to pull the plug. It is difficult to pull off the double these days with the 500 starting later in the day, but no doubt one of racing’s most talented drivers would love to take his shot at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

Speaking of sponsorship and Richard Petty, people at Richard Petty Motorsports are looking for a company to come on board and sponsor Darrell Wallace Jr. in order to go back to a two-car organization. Petty says that he hasn’t spoken directly with Wallace about an agreement to drive for them because of the lack of sponsorship. If they can manage to raise the funds, RPM will gladly field a car for the young NASCAR star.

Who is mad – The class of the field up until lap 112 was Kyle Busch. Busch led 87 laps, which was, by far, the most in the race. He made the call to not orchestrate a restart on lap 111 and raced Truex for the lead. Truex got loose, slid up the track and took both of them out of contention for the win. For the seventh time this season, Busch saw a race where he was dominant get away from him without a victory.

The other car on Sunday that was head and shoulders above the rest was Truex. He and Busch easily left the rest of the field in their dust repeatedly during the race before the incident. Truex was looking to add a Brickyard win to his resume and this was most likely his best shot to this point. In the end a mistake on his part cost him and Busch an easy victory.

Who is happyMatt DiBenedetto notched his first finish above 32nd at Indianapolis. This was DiBenedetto’s second top-10 result of the season for the No. 32 team, which are the only two top-10 finishes in the team’s history. DiBenedetto now has three top tens in his career, posting a sixth-place effort last April at Bristol Motor Speedway for BK Racing.

JTG-Daugherty Racing had their second best day as a two-car organization with both of their cars coming home in the top ten. Chris Buescher crossed the line in ninth, while AJ Allmendinger ended up in tenth. Aside from Daytona in July, where they came home eighth and tenth respectively, this is their best combined finish of 2017. With the series heading to were Buescher won last year, the spirits have to be high at JTG-Daugherty.

When the checkered flag flew:

Kasey Kahne won his 18th victory in 488 career starts.

This is Kahne’s first triumph at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The victory is the first of the season for Kahne.

18 wins ties Kahne for 45th on the All-Time list with Geoffrey Bodine, Neil Bonnett, Harry Gant, Joey Logano and Ryan Newman.

Kahne is the third Hendrick Motorsports driver to win the Brickyard and this is the 10th win for HMS in the race.

Brad Keselowski finished in second for his best career finish at IMS.

This is Keselowski’s sixth top two run of the season.

Keselowski has finished runner-up 21 times in his career.

The finish puts Keselowski in a tie for 38th on the All-Time second place list with Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin and Ernie Irvan.

Rounding out the Podium was Ryan Newman with his second top-three finish of the season.

The third place is Newman’s second-career finish on the Podium at IMS.

Newman’s 51 career top three wins ranks him 47th on the All-Time podium list tied with Speedy Thompson.

Rookie of the Race was Daniel Suarez. That is his ninth such win of the year. Erik Jones has eight and Ty Dillon has three.

Twenty races into the season there have been thirteen different winners this year. With six races left before the playoff cutoff, if there are five new winners, someone with a win will not make the playoffs. That said, there most likely won’t be 17 unique winners. For now you have Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. tied with most wins of the year with three. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., with two wins, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne with one each. In the 13 winners Joey Logano is not eligible for the playoffs by virtue of his triumph being considered encumbered at Richmond. Logano will have to win again to make the playoffs based on a victory.

The remaining six drivers in points and their position:

  1. Kyle Busch
  1. Jamie McMurray
  2. Chase Elliott
  3. Matt Kenseth

The drivers who have scored playoff points so far this season and their total:

Martin Truex Jr – 29

Jimmie Johnson – 16

Kyle Larson – 13

Brad Keselowski -13

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 10

Kevin Harvick – 8

Ryan Blaney – 8

Denny Hamlin – 7

Kyle Busch – 7

Ryan Newman – 5

Kurt Busch – 5

Austin Dillon – 5

Kasey Kahne – 5

Chase Elliott – 2

Matt Kenseth – 2

Joey Logano – 1

What is in the cooler (one to six beers where one is a stinker and six is an instant classic)

Twitter was abuzz about what a great race the Brickyard was. Many fans noted it was entertaining, which it certainly was, but it was far from a great race. There were no on-track passes, except for Busch getting around Blaney during the second stage. There was drama and an interesting finish, although the overtime line played a role again thanks to the darkness that was falling over the track. It is generously getting three cold Hinchtown Hammerdown beers from Flat 12 Bierworks.

Where do you point your DVR for next week – Off to another flat 2.5-mile track next weekend, albeit the scalene triangle that is Pocono Raceway. Coverage starts at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can also stream it on the NBC Sports App. Audio is also available on your MRN affiliate, www.motorracingnetwork.com and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90.

About the author

What is it that Mike Neff doesn’t do? The writer, radio contributor and racetrack announcer coordinates the site’s local short track coverage, hitting up Saturday Night Specials across the country while tracking the sport’s future racing stars. The writer for our signature Cup post-race column, Thinkin’ Out Loud (Mondays) also sits down with Cup crew chiefs to talk shop every Friday with Tech Talk. Mike announces several shows each year for the Good Guys Rod and Custom Association. He also pops up everywhere from PRN Pit Reporters and the Press Box with Alan Smothers to SIRIUS XM Radio. He has announced at tracks all over the Southeast, starting at Millbridge Speedway. He's also announced at East Lincoln Speedway, Concord Speedway, Tri-County Speedway, Caraway Speedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway.

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If the 3:00 start time is the first thing that needs to go, then the current version of the double-file restart is a close second.
Put the lead lap cars on the outside, lapped cars in the inside line. No more of this whining about jumping restarts or the cycle of restart wrecks that give the perception that we witnessed a remarkable race.


The Indy 500 used to start at 11 in the morning local time and you could set your watch to it. If Brian’s product had green flagged even at one it would have been over with more than enough time to finish it before darkness. Early start times are better for the fans at the track. It was bad enough waiting til 12:30 for the start. I’m not going to wait around for a 3:30 green flag. Pocono was eight hours travel time for me and Michigan was five. At Pocono a 3:30 start means about a 7 finish. Time to get out of the parking lot jam plus eight hours means probably home at 4 in the morning (plus the border crossing time now). It’s so nice of Brian to make all his decisions for the fans and not for his wallet.


I have been saying for years that the start times are too late. I thought it was great the year (2010 ???) they had gone back to the consistent start times (1:00 pm or 3:00 pm, depending on if it was a race in the east or west), but TV once again pushed them back. They are leaving no room for red flags, weather, track repairs, etc. at tracks that do not have lights.

I agree that earlier starts are better for the fans at the track too, and probably preferred. I would much rather get there early and be back on the road well before dark, rather than sitting around most of the day and then leaving the track after sunset. I’m dreading the 3:00 pm start time for Martinsville in October, and I live within 3 hrs of the track.


that’s what happened when the put lights at martinsville. they want to get some return on their investment!

Bill B

People thought that race was great?!! I guess if you like wrecks, lots of caution laps, mayhem and crapshoot finishes it was great. I thought the entire race was a joke. Between all the stops and starts it never felt like the race got into a groove.

How sad that the aero issues have gotten so bad that the two best cars felt they couldn’t win if they didn’t get out front with a quarter of the race left, so they wrecked each other on the restart. Even though it was Truex’s fault, Kyle was equally at fault for not being willing to fall into second and find a way to pass him over the next 48 laps. I thought Kyle had the best car and I think he could have passed Truex but we will never know now.

If you look at some of the top cars that were out of the race it’s easy to see why so many usual back-marker drivers got good finishes (32, 47, 10, 72, 43, 66, 27). If you were lucky enough to finish your position was plus ten spots from where you probably would have finished had the attrition rate not been so high.

Glad to see Kasey win. I’ve never been a fan but he’s kind of been the forgotten man at HMS and it was nice to see him get lucky and prevail for a change. Even happier that Johnson didn’t win and even better that he wrecked out. And most glad that we don’t have to watch another Brickyard race for a year.


I thoroughly enjoyed the race; but what do I know.

Sol Shine

Well, given the comments on most motorsport sites this morning you’re in the minority. The race from the caution that gave Kahne the lead until the end was a disgrace, made the drivers look like a bunch of amateurs and gave us another blatant example of Nascar manipulating an outcome. Not too much enjoyable about that.


Well said!


kasey won cause he was one of the few cars left running at the end of the race. ironic how the 5 who needs a sponsor, and probably a driver was the only hms car running at the end of the race. every time i flipped over to the race it was in a caution. this wasn’t a race, it was a continually running commercial break for tv. pathetic. only thing more pathetic was the anemic attendance. even jr’s last indy race wasn’t enough to put butts in seats. sure indy is wide and large, but dang. those “taxi cabs” have never run well at indy. too large and heavy for the track. i went to the brickyard in 1994 and 1995. even then it was as struggle with those stock cars on the track. also, doesn’t anyone at the track have eyes in their heads, i could see that storm heading to towards the track as the opening ceremonies was going on. i know the golf game went over, so “countdown to green” was shortened, but dang that sky was so black and threatening. i’m sure it only took 5 minutes to clear the stands. by the way i thought the golf game was more interesting than the race.

ok i’ll probably get blasted for the comment, but i saw at jr’s twitter last night he was telling fans to stop talking crap about ives. that everyone on the team is trying. jr has historically had trouble with crew chiefs. only one he didn’t was letarte and i honestly think it was cause steve wasn’t afraid to put jr in his place. this 88 team has the cohesiveness of the badnews bears. everyone seems to bow down to jr cause he’s jr and his last name. he’s just a money generator and even the most casual fan is laughing at his performance. thought it was priceless when jr broke and they showed the fans crying cause he was out of the race. like he had a chance of kissing the bricks.

it got to 6:30 east coast time and i was wishing the skies would have opened up over indy to put the fans out of their misery. i cringed when i heard that goodyear brought a quicker wearing tire compound to the track. memories of ten laps of racing and cautions for blown tires surfaced in my head.

onto to pocono. wonder if they seas will part and jr will win to get in the chase. he’s rapidly running out of chances. oh yeah, this is a track where he’s got to shift. hopefully he’ll remember the shifting pattern is the same as the “H” on slick ricky’s hat that he wears all the time.


My, my, how can one person have so much hatefulness and negativity? I’ve watched NASCAR racing since the early 1980s, but I still enjoyed yesterday’s “race that would not end.” I enjoyed seeing every driver giving 110% to try to win, in spite of the lousy cars they’re forced to drive. I don’t hate any of the drivers, crew chiefs, or owners. What a miserable way that would be to go through life!


the race that never ended was a comment i made cause everytime they had a restart at the end how many hours of engineering and money were tossed aside because of the wrecks? thankfully truex didn’t get bbq’d or larson for that matter. there were a lot of hard hits in that race, especially at the end. too many hard hits. these non-plate tracks are having wrecks that look more like super speedway wrecks more and more. this segment racing has the drivers “driving the last 5 laps of a race 3 times over during the race.


Janice, you are spot on with your comments, and more than entitled to them! Marky Marky is the newer resident of the board that thinks our long service of watching NASCRAP and in particular the unwarranted disgusting display of hero worship regarding the man child brat KNOW AS DALE JR..well somehow we are in the wrong, and just should say nice, unicorn type things regarding NASCAR, the state of racing and pampered DRIVERS who didn’t earn shit, but because their last name is EARNHARDT we all must bow down. MARK MARKY SHUT THE HELL UP! Go pick some flowers or something and bring them to Juniors shop he never goes to..that his sister and Rick run! Good grief!


Thanks kb


Mark, maybe your hatefulness and negativity comment should have went to kb.


Flavor Aid Fan Template:

1. Claim that a person without a sunshine view is a “negative nellie”
2. Claim to have been a fan for at least a decade longer than you’ve known what racing was
3. Use some cliche about how “everyone wants to lead every lap”
4. Make some slight concession to present yourself as one with an enlightened, balanced viewpoint
5. Take every comment that someone makes about your “favorite” as a sign that they despise this competitor and wish them physical harm, because, after all, criticism is bad.
6. Question mental health and life choices of dissenting individual.

Adjust steps based on whether or not you are a regular unpaid mouthpiece for an organization or competitor, and if you are employed by or trying to gain employment with one of the industry’s “stakeholders.”


I wonder if the softer compound on the lefts was to get the teams to change all four during the TV time out…er “competition caution”.


The results were more o f a ‘last man standing’ scenario than winning a race. I felt that more laps were run under yellow that under green. If difficulty passing makes for desperate moves that cause major wrecks, it’s definitely time to rethink racing at Indy. There’s lots of tradition…but not for stock cars. I find it amusing that Nascar is so quick to throw out the traditions that THEY made, yet try so hard to assimilate someone else’s. The echoing emptiness of the stands at Indy should be giving someone the hint that they should have kept Rockingham for good racing and tradition, rather than try to adopt Indy cars.

Robert Dempsey

What was the attendance? There didn’t seem to be 1,000 people in the stands for the Xfinity race and even less for the Trans Am Muscle race which I would love to have seen. The stands for the Sunday race didn’t look half full. How long can NASCAR keep up this smoke and mirror tactic of telling everyone how popular it is and then having cameramen work their ass off not to show empty seats. Another instance of TV money…….which is ruining racing


From the looks of the stands I would say they were about 10% full.

I guess all the gimmicks pushed by NASCAR are not working, and they should look into actually racing with a real points system and rules again.


I agree with you about the late start times. IMO races should start at 1 p.m. local time. That gives people who live in the area a reasonable time to travel to the race and those who have traveled to the race time to get back to their hotel or on the road for home at a reasonable time (even with potential rain delays).

From what I saw of the race (and I thought I had missed it since I was out doing “summer fun” sort of things, not sitting home in front of the TV) but I got a message saying “no, it’s still on — they are still wreckin” and yes they were and continued to wreck all the way up to the end. What an embarrassment that whole mess at the end was.

Bobby DK

Hey Mr. France! Here’s an idea for 2018 Indy. Free tickets to the Brickyard 400! Then give a free Ford, Chevy and Yota to 3 lucky fans after the race. (Must be present to win.)


A Yugo would be more appropriate.


The chaos that emerged once Truex and Busch crashed out saved what was otherwise a typical Indy race. The overtime line needs to go. It was obvious NASCAR waited again to put the yellow out so the race could end. I know it was dark, but NASCAR could have easily put out the caution then said race over b/c of darkness. It would be better than the BS “we were evaluating the situation”.

On the bright side, the Xfinity race was good. Let’s give that package a try with the Cup cars. The racing was very similar to the IndyCars at times. Still a strong car held off a run to win.


I agree with Nascar’s decision to let them race to the overtime line. It didn’t change the outcome. They lost some credibility with the explanation though.


As a Kahne fan, I am glad for him for his win. It is a well deserved win for him.

I also agree on 1pm local time starts for the races, or even better were the 11 am local start time on Saturday as in the first few Brickyard 400’s.

As for the length of races, other than the 4 or 5 big races, Daytona 500, etc., why not have the races run in a set amount of time-say 2-1/2 or 3 hours? This would make for some interesting pit strategy, etc. Other than the 4 or 5 big races, I don’t know if anyone cares how many miles it is? Just make it on time and it would be so much easier to watch instead of taking up the whole day, or as of lately, not even watching at all.


At the end of yesterday’s ah… er.. uhhhh “Event” i found myself oddly entertained but unfulfilled.
This caused me to do a bit of soul searching about the current state of racing.
After the 18/78 wreck and the caution that voided a fuel mileage race it was pretty clear that the winner would be difficult to predict. Call it myatery, crap shoot or circumstantial suspense it suddenly made the event entertaining.
I wondered if being entertained is the reason I watch racing and concluded that it wasn’t. I watch to see the type of competition that only auto racing can provide. A sport that rewards the right combination of mental toughness, physical strength, team work, endurance, machinery and circumstance (luck.) The skills required to outsmart, outlast and beat the competition both on and off track are considerable and can make for great racing. If you’ve ever driven or worked on a racecar in anger at any level you know exactly what I’m talking about. Great racing is incredibly rewarding and makes for a great experience to both direct and indirect participants. My conclusion? Here goes; simply stated, what we see today focuses far more on what passes for the entertainments aspect and pretty much ignores the actual draw of racing. Pretty sure that’s a huge part of why I and many others have become either bitter and/or complacently disinterested. There might occasionally be good racing going on in nascar today but you couldn’t prove it by me.


Man, did you see the record setting crowds overflowing the stands?


And there were more under the stands buying souvenirs to remember their experience by.


Heard the Indy newspaper posted attendance estimate at 30,00-35,000. Looks pretty empty when the place seats 250k.

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