Monday, May 26, 2008

Kasey Kahne in Victory Lane!! (part 2)

Winning the Coca-Cola 600 is such a hard task. But it proved to be quite easy for Kasey Kahne, who won the race with more than a 5 second lead over second place Greg Biffle. The Coke 600 is the longest race of the year, 400 laps or 600 miles. Kyle Busch won the pole with Kasey Kahne starting 2nd. Kasey is still riding a huge wave of momentum from last weekend's win in the All-Star Race. when the Green flag fell, Kasey Kahne started losing positions quickly, dropping back to about 8th or 9th place. I started to get worried that this might be a long night, but then remembered that this is 600 miles, and you have to go through the transition from day to night. The race starts at 5 and ends at 10, so the track cools down alot. When you first start out, you want your car to be a bit loose, so that when it does get night time it will tighten up.

The Endurance Race
The first hundred laps looked like it was shaping up to be somewhat like the All-Star Race, but then we started to see the cautions we predicted. We saw several guys who led that looked like they could end up competing for the win. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. all looked like they could win.

Bad Luck Strikes the Leaders
I was hoping that Brian Vickers would have a good run. He is a pretty good driver. They are just one of those teams that needs some luck on their side. He led for a while, and then was running 2nd when all of a sudden, the left rear tire just flew off. It was pretty funny the way the tire went. It rolled and bounced. I thought it was gonna hit an ambulance, but it narrowly missed it and bounced over the fence into an infield camping ground. I wonder what those people thought. Security came and took the tire to look at it to see exactly what happened.
Dale Jr. was another guy that looked very competitive. He likes to run right up against the wall every lap. He had a flat tire go down and smacked the wall. Then J.J. Yeley ran right into the back of him. Dale Jr. and his crew chief Tony Eury Jr. were smart about it though. They did not want to go a lap down, so they came onto pit road and fixed part of it. They went back on the track (this is still under caution), so they would not lose a lap. Then when they came back around, they sped on pit road in order to make sure they would have enough time to fix the car. They figured if they sped, the only penalty they would get would be to start at the back of the pack, which they were already gonna have to do. It almost came back to bite them though. NASCAR almost penalized him for endangering public safety crews, but after further review NASCAR rescinded the penalty stating that Jr. gave plenty of room. Jr. ended up finishing 5th, so it wasn't that bad.
Kurt Busch led for a while, but he also hit the wall. Kyle Busch was another guy that was having problems. Something was wrong with his battery, but they fixed that, and he was a contender there at the end. Jimmie Johnson also ran very well, but he blew an engine, so that ended his night.
At one of the restarts, Tony Stewart was 1st with Kasey Kahne 2nd. Tony for some reason slowed down a little bit, and that caused a chain reaction. When they replayed it, you could clearly see the accordion effect. They stacked up and about mid pack, they started crashing. That brought out the caution and some of the guys in the back went on to pit road to top off with fuel. The leaders stayed out though, because they had just had a caution and didn't want to give up track position. That left us to wonder if maybe some of the guys in the back would try stretch it out and make it on fuel. These would be guys like Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards, who hadn't run well all night but might end up winning this thing. Alot of the guys who were good at some point in the race, had trouble.

The Finish
When they finally did get back going, it was somewhere around 60 laps to go. We knew the leaders would have make a green flag pit stop. They would only need about 3 seconds of fuel. This made me worried. On the last green flag stop, the pit crew cannot make any mistakes. This pit stop determines whether you win the race or not. Kasey was one of the first to hit pit road. He got 6 seconds of fuel. Tony Stewart, who was still leading, got about 3 seconds, so at that point, everyone figured Kasey's night was over. I was praying for a caution or for something to happen to Tony. Kasey was about 5 seconds behind Tony. Then with two laps to go, our miracle came. They started screaming, "Tony's got problems! Tony's got problems!!" That's when I knew Kasey was gonna win. Kasey did win with a huge lead. Tony had a flat tire. As for those guys who topped off with fuel on the last lap, Carl Edwards was the only one to risk it. He ran out of fuel, but ended up 9th. This is Kasey's first points race win in 52 races. He joins a list of greats, because he is only the 6th driver ever to win both the All-Star Race and the Coke 600. This list includes Darrell Waltrip, Davey Allison, Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson. Kasey's comment on this: "That's probably the coolest thing I've ever done if I'm on that same list as those guys." If this is any indication of Kasey's potential, he has a bright future ahead of him!

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