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Kahne was in no-win situation either way during final laps at Bristol

Aug 25, 2013, 10:35 PM EST

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After he was caught in a crash triggered by Matt Kenseth two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, Kasey Kahne had a seemingly perfect opportunity to extract payback last night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kahne has had multiple run-ins with Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing stablemates this season, but as he rose up to challenge the former Sprint Cup champion in the closing laps of the Irwin Tools Night Race, the anticipation for him taking revenge was palpable.

Did every single soul inside Thunder Valley expect him to do that? Maybe not every one, but likely, the vast majority did. It’s Bristol, where justice is often meted out with the proverbial “chrome horn.”

And considering what happened at the Glen, Kahne probably would’ve been met with wild cheers if he put Kenseth in the fence. But instead, Kahne looked for the clean way around.

As the laps wound down, he tried desperately to make the low groove work for him against Kenseth and couldn’t. He then went right behind Kenseth on the top groove, but didn’t pull off a “bump and run” maneuver and was defeated despite having the faster car of the pair.

“I think at the end of the day, I just don’t wreck people,” said Kahne, who won at Bristol this past spring but couldn’t claim a third 2013 win that likely would’ve cemented a spot for him in the Chase.

“I don’t know how all that was going to work out. I needed a win bad, but I also needed a finish, and I just didn’t do anything crazy. I just basically ran as hard as I could, tried to pass [Kenseth] two different times and ran on his bumper and hoped he’d screw up, and he really never did.”

As tempting as it may be for some to say that Kahne simply didn’t have the fortitude to retaliate against Kenseth, it bears noting that Bristol is a different beast than it once was.

The high groove – which is where Kenseth was throughout his battle for the win with Kahne – has become the fastest way around. Even if Kahne had managed to really tag Kenseth’s back bumper and wreck him, it’s likely he would’ve also been collected as well.

In hindsight, Kahne was damned no matter if he raced clean or raced for revenge. By choosing the former, he’s opened himself to criticism over whether he has any “edge” at all. But if he had gone with the latter, both he and Kenseth may have wound up on the hook.

  1. jimjamz247 - Aug 26, 2013 at 1:31 AM

    I’ve never been a big fan of Kasey Kahne, but after I watched the conclusion of the night race at Bristol, I’m a fan now. The author of the post above, says that it’s doubtful that He (Kahne) could have put Kenseth in the barrier without going with him. I’m telling you that it could have been accomplished on the back side, during the second to last lap. Kahne gave Kenseth a “love tap” at that point, BUT, showed us all that He has the “correct” fortitude that a professional race car should have. I’m quite certain that if it would have been Harvick or a number of others in the same predicament, it would have been the opposite. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy an occasional view of the “big one”, but they have become an obsession of a lot of fans. But the corporations that are responsible for the life of “our” sport, aren’t fans of those crashes at all. Less TV time for the banners of their companies means less willingness to pour those cubic dollars into Cup Racing. So I say, “good job Kasey Kahne, you’ll only have a few days wait to gittem’ again”!

  2. nderdog - Aug 26, 2013 at 12:16 PM

    Not wanting to wreck someone else just to win is not as bad as some make it out to be. That’s exactly Kasey’s style – the wins will come, but runner up is still better than 41 others are going to end up with in any given race, and risking it all for the checkered flag isn’t really worth it when the Race to the Chase is getting to it’s boiling point Second place is still pretty good considering the level of competition, and while the bonus points and getting locked in to the Chase are nice, it comes at a cost. There are some (the Shrubs come to mind) who will always want to win at all costs, including the loss of respect of their competitors, but many drivers will race you the way that you race them, so Kahne just might have earned a couple less DNFs in his future.

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