Kasey Kahne wins Food City 500; Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin have issues
GalleriesNASCAR champions since 1993
BRISTOL., Tenn. -- Any concerns about the short-track raceability of NASCAR's Generation 6 car or the ability of Bristol Motor Speedway to produce the bumper-to-bumper, multi-groove action of years gone by were put to rest in a flurry of twisted metal and heated words Sunday.
Kasey Kahne went to Victory Lane for the first time at the .533-mile circuit, leading the final 40 laps of the Food City 500 after an intense duel with defending race champ Brad Keselowski. But action was equally intense in the post-race garage after Joey Logano made a beeline for former teammate Denny Hamlin's Toyota.
"That's a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11 car -- probably the worst teammate I ever had," Logano said after attempting to stick his head into Hamlin's cockpit. "He decided to run in the back of me, so, whatever. I have a scorecard and I'm not putting up with that. What goes around comes around."
Hamlin, in hot water with NASCAR officials for recent remarks about the sport's new car, was relegated to 23rd by a late-race flat tire. He had his own take on the Lap 348 incident with Logano, which occurred with both drivers in hot pursuit of race leader Jeff Gordon.
"He slipped up, into me," Hamlin said. "He would have been in the garage with no radiator if I had not checked up twice. I meant to run into him [although] I didn't mean to spin him out . . . We finished bad. He finished bad. It's even."
Hamlin and Logano also exchanged Tweets after the Daytona 500. Asked if the two have a problem, Logano replied: "If we didn't, we do now. Tweet that."
"It's a little disheartening that we all can't just get along," said a tongue-in-cheek Kyle Busch, who had dominated the weekend at Bristol by winning the pole in track-record time and Saturday's Nationwide race by half a car length.
But Busch settled for second on Sunday, his day going the way of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Hamlin and Matt Kenseth when he was flagged for a pit road speeding penalty after leading the race's first 55 laps.
After leading 117 of the first 189 laps, Hamlin surrendered the lead to Kenseth, who eventually suffered his own misfortune on Lap 391.
Gordon's car blew a right-front tire and went up the track in front of Kenseth, who had no place to go. Kenseth slammed into the rear of Gordon, ending his day and essentially leaving the battle to Kahne, Keselowski and Busch.
"We've been trying [to win here] for a long time," said Kahne, who had finished no better than fifth in any of his previous 10 Sprint Cup races at Bristol. "Bristol is one of those tracks that, as a driver, you feel you need to win at. To pull it off, I feel, is a big accomplishment."
"I felt like we got a really good restart," Kahne said. "From there, it was just about momentum and trying to drive away."
At that point, Keselowski, who took over the series points lead with his fourth consecutive top-five finish to start the season, knew he was in trouble.
"I don't think I had anything for Kasey," he said. "I don't know if anyone did. He was kind of in a league of his own."
Drivers were able to run both the bottom and top lanes at Bristol, something they'd been unable to accomplish in recent years at Bristol because of the track surface. There were 17 lead changes among 10 drivers.
"No, the 'old Bristol' can never come back,'' Keselowski said. "It will never be [like] 1995-99. It's a whole different era with a different car. But I quite honestly feel this [Bristol] is better. It's a very racy track.''