CONCORD, N.C. – Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway had an eventful ending, and when the checkered flag waved in overtime, two Hendrick Motorsports drivers had made the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
KAHNE COMES CLOSE
After qualifying seventh, Kasey Kahne battled throughout Saturday night’s race to find his way to the front of the pack.
Late in the race, he lined up the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS second for a restart, and when the event went to overtime, he found himself in fourth for the final green flag.
"I tried," Kahne said. "I wanted to win, but (race winner) Denny (Hamlin) was a good bit better than we were."
He ultimately took the checkered flag sixth, falling short of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. But he was proud of the No. 5 team’s effort.
“We gave it a good shot,” Kahne said. “We fought hard.”
Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick congratulated Kahne on the effort.
"He said, 'Good job, way to fight,'" Kahne recalled.
JOHNSON KEEPS CHASE STREAK ALIVE
With Jimmie Johnson’s latest Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth, he remains the only driver to have made NASCAR’s unique postseason every season.
“That is a really cool stat, something that I’m definitely proud of and I’m proud of this team for accomplishing,” he said of his 13th Chase berth.
But the six-time Sprint Cup champion acknowledged that he still needs to tackle the Chase’s elimination format, which debuted in the 2014 season.
“The format is much different than the way I won it last,” he said. “We are still trying to learn this new format. It’s obvious if you win then each bracket you get to move on, but we had a great start to the Chase last year and had a simple mechanical failure that knocked us out. I don’t know what the secret sauce is, but I know we need to be consistent and I know we need to be running in the top five, so that is our goal to start.”
CHASE MAKES THE CHASE
Joining Johnson in the Chase is his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott, who makes the postseason in his first full-time Sprint Cup season.
“It is definitely exciting,” Elliott said after the race Saturday night. “It is a heck of an opportunity. I’m very happy that we were able to squeak through tonight. I had to overcome a lot of adversity, a lot of wrecking, a lot of problems. It was a wild race for sure. Lucky that some of the stuff worked out the way it did and we were able to get in this thing.”
Elliott hadn’t officially clinched his postseason position until the final race of the season, but he raced his way into the Chase.
Now, he said, there’s work to do.
“Getting in is the first very small step of these last 10 races,” he said. “We will take it a week at a time. I think we have to leave here with the mentality that we could go to Homestead and give ourselves a chance.”