KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Kasey Kahne chased leader Matt Kenseth as the laps wound down on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and narrowed the gap to a fraction of a second. But the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS was unable to find a successful line and took runner-up honors in the 267-lap NASCAR Sprint Cup event.
He was joined in the top 16 by his Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jimmie Johnson finished third, while Jeff Gordon took 13th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was scored 16th.
Here is the recap by team:
Kasey Kahne, No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Second.
Recap: Kasey Kahne opened Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway from the 27th position and improved to 14th after the field had cycled through two early caution periods. By Lap 62, Kahne reported to crew chief Kenny Francis that the No. 5 Farmers Insurance 85th Anniversary Chevrolet SS was experiencing a free-handling condition. But Francis reported the good news that Kahne’s lap times were fast, and he improved one position to 13th. The No. 5 pit crew was critical to Kahne’s success and helped him pick up four positions during a stop under caution on Lap 72. Kahne was running 12th when he stopped for fuel, right-side tires and a track bar adjustment and restarted eighth when the green flag waved for the restart five laps later. Kahne held his position in the top 10 through an ensuing caution period and lined up ninth for the Lap 90 restart. As the race unfolded, Kahne once again told Francis his No. 5 Chevy was running loose, but the handling wasn’t affecting his lap times. Kahne improved to sixth by Lap 133. Kahne was running fifth when the caution flag was waved on Lap 173, and he planned with Francis to pit for fuel and a wedge adjustment. He followed teammate Jimmie Johnson off pit road in third, but lined up 10th for the Lap 178 restart behind Cup competitors that didn’t pit. With 46 laps to go and the yellow-flag displayed, Kahne stopped for right-side tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He left running third and lined up next to Johnson for the restart with 43 laps to go. Kahne moved into third and chased leader Matt Kenseth and second-place Martin Truex Jr. Within three laps, Kahne had taken second away from Truex. As the final laps ticked off, Kahne closed the gap on Kenseth and was trying every line possible to score his first victory at the 1.5-mile Kansas oval. On the white-flag lap, Kahne tried once more to slip by Kenseth, but ultimately took second, matching his best result at Kansas.
Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 13th.
Recap: Jeff Gordon lined up 43rd for Sunday’s Cup event at Kansas Speedway after wrecking during his qualifying lap on Friday at the 1.5-mile speedway. Within five circuits, Gordon picked up 10 spots when he opted not to pit during a caution period on Lap 4. He continued his climb, moving into 23rd with laps times that rivaled that of the leaders. By Lap 27, the driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet SS had slipped slightly to 26th and was reporting a loose-handling condition to crew chief Alan Gustafson. When the caution flag was waved on Lap 37, Gordon made his way down pit road for tires, fuel and adjustments, which subsequently helped the handling of the No. 24 Chevy. Gordon improved to 14th on the Lap 44 restart and was running 13th by Lap 53. “You’re doing a real good job,” spotter Eddie D’Hondt radioed to Gordon, who improved 30 spots in the first 53 circuits. “Keep it up.” Gordon and Gustafson employed a bit of pit strategy during a stop under caution on Lap 72. Gordon opted for fuel, adjustments and four tires, rather than the popular two-tire strategy and restarted 18th. Fresh tires and adjustments made a difference, and Gordon radioed to his team, “that thing was good right there.” Gordon and the No. 24 team continued to work through various handling conditions, including a splitter that was hitting the track. Running inside the top 15 with 50 laps to go, Gordon hit pit road for a scheduled green-flag stop when the caution flag was displayed, trapping the driver of the No. 24 Chevy on pit road. Gordon took the wave-around and stayed on the lead lap, but struggled to make up much ground. As the race wound down, he worked to pick up positions despite reporting that his car was “falling off.” Gordon crossed the finish line 13th.
Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS
Race finish: Third.
Recap: Jimmie Johnson started 21st in his No. 48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS and immediately reported a vibration to crew chief Chad Knaus. The No. 48 team took advantage of a Lap 4 caution to restore the balance and address a slight loose-handling condition. By Lap 15, Johnson was running 31st, but reported the vibration was gone and began his climb to the front of the pack. Fourteen laps later, Johnson reported his No. 48 Chevy was running better and in the 27th position. Johnson hit pit road again during a caution period on Lap 40 for two right-side tires and fuel. A swift stop by the No. 48 pit crew improved Johnson to 14th, and he immediately picked up another position after the Lap 45 restart. Johnson cracked the top 10 on Lap 60 and improved to fifth after a pit stop under caution on Lap 74. Four laps later, Johnson was running third after the restart. A slightly tight-handling condition developed on the No. 48 Chevy, and Knaus’ group addressed that during an ensuing stop under caution on Lap 111. Knaus quickly called off Johnson from exiting the stall after a right-side tire stop so he could avoid a competitor moving into his pit. Unscathed, Johnson lost a few spots, but restarted inside the top five and took the lead by Lap 148. He led until Lap 155, when he made a scheduled green-flag stop for four tires, adjustments and fuel. He was running third after green-flag stops cycled through. The No. 48 team employed pit strategy and took fuel only during a late-race caution period to restart 10th. With 46 laps to go and the yellow-flag displayed, Johnson stopped for right-side tires, slight adjustments and fuel. He left running third and lined up next to teammate Kasey Kahne for the restart with 43 laps to go. With a few circuits, Johnson settled into the fourth position and moved into third with 24 laps remaining. Johnson ultimately finished third.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS
Race finish: 16th
Recap: Dale Earnhardt Jr. rolled off the grid 23rd on Sunday at Kansas Speedway and was running 20th by Lap 4 under caution. Earnhardt, who stayed out during the early caution period and moved into 19th, reported to crew chief Steve Letarte that his No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet SS was experiencing a loose-handling condition from the center of the corners through the exit. When the caution flag waved on Lap 37, Earnhardt stopped for fuel and right-side tires to tighten up the handling of the car. He restarted 13th for the Lap 43 restart and improved to 11th on the ensuing laps. As the race unfolded, a tight-handling condition developed and the No. 88 team took advantage of another caution period to address the issue with a track bar adjustment. By Lap 101, Earnhardt moved past a competitor to take the seventh position and was running fifth 18 circuits later. Earnhardt led Lap 160 when green-flag stops were cycling through before hitting pit road himself. After green-flag stops, Earnhardt was running eighth and managed to move into second by skipping a subsequent pit stop. Running third with 57 laps to go, Earnhardt decided to hit pit road when an untimely yellow flag was waved, trapping Earnhardt on pit road. But the driver of the No. 88 Chevy was able to stay on the lead lap by taking the wave around and was battling for 17th with 20 laps to go. Earnhardt improved to finish 16th.