Kahne finishes second, teammates Johnson and Gordon in top seven at Charlotte
CONCORD, N.C. – Kasey Kahne finished second after leading a race-high 138 laps on Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS took two tires during a late-race pit stop and was unable to hold off eventual winner Brad Keselowski in the Bank of America 500.
Kahne was joined inside the top 15 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jimmie Johnson (fourth), Jeff Gordon (seventh) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (15th). The quartet combined to lead 313 of the race’s 334 laps.
Here are the results by team:
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Second.
Chase standings: 13th.
Recap: Kasey Kahne opened Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the fifth position and was running third by Lap 25, when the first caution flag was waved. Kahne reported that his No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS was slightly loose in the center, so crew chief Kenny Francis called for the necessary chassis adjustments. Kahne won the race off pit road after a swift right-side tire and fuel stop. He lined up beside teammate Jimmie Johnson for the Lap 28 restart and led two circuits before losing the No. 1 spot to teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. Kahne reclaimed the lead on Lap 44 and paced the field for 30 more laps before making his green-flag stop on Lap 74. Kahne resumed the lead back on-track and eclipsed the 1,000 laps led mark at the 1.5-mile oval – a track-best for the driver of the No. 5 Chevy SS. Kahne spent the first half of the race running in the top five with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates and the second half atop the leaderboard. He decided to give the outside line a try for the Lap 177 restart and lost ground to teammate Jimmie Johnson. Kahne initially reported he seemed to be on the splitter during the green-flag run, but as the race progressed, the car started to come to him. With 100 laps to go, Francis encouraged Kahne to start saving fuel. He told Kahne the No. 5 Chevy SS would be three to four laps shy of making it on one more stop. The fuel issue was erased when the caution flag was waved on Lap 307. Kahne, running second, stopped for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He won the race off pit road, and lined up next to teammate Jeff Gordon for the restart. Kahne edged him on the ensuing lap, but was unable to hold off eventual winner Brad Keselowski, who took four tires during the stop. Kahne finished second.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Axalta Coating Systems Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Seventh.
Chase standings: Fourth.
Recap: Polesitter Jeff Gordon led the first 26 laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway before the first caution flag was issued. During the yellow-flag period, Gordon opted for four tires instead of two, which appeared to be the more popular call. Gordon told crew chief Alan Gustafson four tires was the right move to keep the car from getting so tight. Gordon was running fifth by Lap 53 and, 20 laps later, was closing the gap on teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. for fourth prior to green-flag pit stops. Gordon made a four-tire, fuel stop during the green flag and remained fifth through a subsequent caution period. During the Lap 92 restart, Gordon sped past teammate Jimmie Johnson to take third. Gordon remained inside the top five as the race unfolded and lined up third behind Johnson for a Lap 177 restart. Gordon was bounced around some on the restart and ultimately finished seventh.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Fourth.
Chase standings: Second.
Recap: Jimmie Johnson rolled off the grid fourth on Saturday at Charlotte and took advantage of a right-side tire, fuel stop under caution on Lap 25 to move into second. The driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Dover White Chevrolet SS remained with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates inside the top five – sometimes running 1-2-3-4 – as the race unfolded. When green-flag pit stops began around Lap 73, Johnson led Lap 74 before making his stop. He returned to the track in fourth and on Lap 83, his windshield was sprayed with oil from the No. 14 car. Undaunted, Johnson assured crew chief Chad Knaus visibility wasn’t an issue and said this was “just like my dirt days.” Johnson maintained his position inside the top five and lined up second beside teammate Kasey Kahne for the Lap 177 restart. The driver of the No. 48 Chevy SS sped out to take the lead and stretched it out to two-plus seconds ahead of Kahne during the ensuing long green-flag run. On Lap 227, Johnson made a 12.7-second pit stop for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He returned to pace the field. Johnson led 130 laps, eclipsing Dale Earnhardt Sr. for fifth on the track’s all-time list, and made a pit stop when the caution flag was waved on Lap 307. Johnson stopped for four tires and fuel and returned to line up third for the restart. He initially was shuffled back to seventh, but climbed to fourth within 10 laps. He made it to fourth by the time the checkered flag was displayed. Johnson now trails Chase leader Matt Kenseth by four points.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 15th.
Chase standings: Ninth.
Recap: Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his 500th Cup start on Saturday, lined up sixth at Charlotte and used the outside lane to make up ground. After a strong two-tire, fuel stop under caution on Lap 25, he was pacing the field by Lap 30. The driver of the No. 88 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS led 14 laps before trash on his grille caused his temperatures to rise. To save his car, Earnhardt gave up the lead to teammate Kasey Kahne and slid into fourth behind teammate Jimmie Johnson to remove the debris. He remained inside the top five with his Hendrick Motorsports teammates as the race unfolded and made his green-flag stop on Lap 74. With four tires and fuel, Earnhardt was in good shape when the caution flag was waved 10 laps later for oil on the track. Earnhardt lined up second beside Johnson for the restart and sped out to take the lead on Lap 91. Earnhardt led five laps before Kahne slipped by. Earnhardt remained inside the top eight as the race unfolded, but a tight-handling condition emerged as the nighttime temperatures cooled. He slipped in the running order while looking for a better spot to run his No. 88 Chevy SS. Earnhardt struggled to get his No. 88 Chevy SS dialed in and slipped off the lead lap later in the race. He was running 14th when the Lap 307 caution flag was issued and stopped for four tires, fuel and another chassis adjustment. Earnhardt held on to finish 15th.