28th May 2012, 03:50 AM
Kahne scores third 600 win, first at Hendrick
CONCORD, N.C. -- Kasey Kahne continued his emphatic turnaround Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, handily winning the Coca-Cola 600.
In his 300th Sprint Cup Series start, Kahne posted his first victory of the season, his first since joining Hendrick Motorsports and the 13th of his career. Kahne beat runner-up Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 4.295 seconds.
Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as nine cars finished on the lead lap at the 1.5-mile track.
A caution on Lap 319 for debris in Turn 3 interrupted some of the best racing of the night. Before the yellow, Biffle and Kahne had swapped the lead repeatedly, with neither able to gain a clear advantage. Hamlin was in the mix, too, trailing the top two cars by less than a half-second.
Hamlin and Earnhardt stayed on the track under the caution, while the other eight lead-lap cars came to the pits on Lap 320 for two-tire and four-tire stops. After the subsequent restart on Lap 326, Kahne needed fewer than eight laps to blow past both Earnhardt and Hamlin into the lead.
On Lap 333, Kahne powered past Hamlin off Turn 2 and began to pull away. Kahne maintained an advantage of more than 1 second through a cycle of green-flag pit stops that began on Lap 353 when Biffle and Kyle Busch brought their cars to pit road.
That round of pit stops proved disastrous for Jimmie Johnson, who dragged a fuel can out of his pit stall and returned to pit road under green to serve a stop-and-go penalty. The miscue put Johnson a lap down and left Kahne and Hamlin to decide the race between them.
Notes: Kahne is the ninth different winner in 12 races this season . . . Greg Biffle led a race-high 204 laps . . . Danica Patrick finished 30th, five laps down, in her Charlotte debut . . . Pole-sitter Aric Almirola ran 16th, two laps down . . . Johnson finished 11th, one lap down.
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