Kahne wins Busch race; NASCAR errs
Scoring mistake costs Kyle Busch's run for the victory; Leffler stages 'awesome battle'
Bristol, Tenn. ? Kasey Kahne passed Ryan Newman with eight laps to go, then held off several charges from Jason Leffler to win the Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night.
The race was marred by a NASCAR scoring error against Kyle Busch that cost him a chance to run for the win. Busch was penalized with 77 laps to go because NASCAR said he violated the pit-road commitment line. He had to forfeit his second-place position, a penalty NASCAR later said was incorrect.
But it was too late by then, as Busch had dropped all the way back to 28th.
“I don’t know that I hit the line – I don’t think I did,” Busch said. “They could have waited to get it sorted out and do the right thing, but they didn’t.”
With Busch out of the way, Newman easily pulled away as the leader on the ensuing restart. He had little competition until the closing laps, when both Kahne and Leffler closed the gap.
Kahne went high around Newman, Leffler went low and the three cars squeezed together. The contact caused one of Newman’s tires to go flat, and he fell off the pace as Kahne scooted by.
“I went around the outside, there wasn’t enough room on the backstretch,” Kahne said. “I thought I was going to hurt the car. The front is beat up. You can still win with a beat-up car.”
Once past Newman, Kahne still had to contend with Leffler, the pole-sitter who had dominated the race by leading a race-high 82 laps. But Leffler gave up the lead on late pit stop for tires. Leffler could have spun Kahne several times, but tried to pass him cleanly.
Leffler made one last attempt on the final lap, couldn’t get past Kahne, and was spun by the third-place car of David Reutimann as they closed in on the finish line.
“It was an awesome battle with Jason Leffler and Ryan Newman,” said Kahne, who will start from the pole in tonight’s Nextel Cup event. “Jason ran me clean at the end. It’s so hard to win at this place. The track is so crazy with how many lines there are and how much racing room there is. It’s wide open and you go wherever you can.”
Busch wound up fourth, then went to the NASCAR hauler to discuss the scoring mistake.
It was a wild finish to a competitive race on Bristol’s repaved surface, which has developed several racing lines because of its smooth new concrete. But television viewers missed it because ESPN lost its satellite feed with three laps to go in the event. They rejoined the race as Kahne was celebrating, then re-aired the final laps.
All the drivers said the new surface greatly improved racing that was already pretty good at one of NASCAR’s most revered tracks.
“The track is so crazy with how many lines there are and how much racing room there is,” Kahne said. “It’s wide open and you go wherever you can.”
Newman was so pleased with the conditions, he said he didn’t even mind losing the race. He faded to 28th after losing his tire.
“I told (Kahne) in Victory Lane that was the most satisfying I have ever felt losing, because it was that good of a race,” Newman said.