Kasey Kahne takes thrilling win in chaotic Brickyard 40…

Following a three-year drought, Kasey Kahne returned to Victory Lane as darkness set in on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday.

Kahne regained the lead on the second overtime to win 18th-career Monster Energy Cup race and his first Brickyard 400.

“Way to go guys, way to go,” Kahne said. “I can’t believe this.” 

Brad Keselowski finished second followed by Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Daniel Suarez, Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger. 

“I thought I hit it right but I guess I didn’t,” Keselowski said of the final restart.

Martin Truex Jr. elected to take the outside lane when he led the field to green for the final segment on Lap 105. 

After completing the first lap, the field was coming through Turn 2 when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was punted into the wall to bring out Caution 8 on Lap 106. Truex held the point followed by Busch, Kenseth, Harvick, Blaney, Hamlin, Jones, Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Bowyer, McMurray, Suarez, Newman, Logano and Johnson.

Kyle Larson, who finished Stage 2 in the 12th position, dropped to 26th in the final segment after multiple repairs to his car following contact with Johnson. 

Truex held the inside lane with Kyle Busch on the outside when the race went green on Lap 111. “I think we need to race him,” Busch said. 

Busch crowded Truex coming through Turns 1 and 2, making the No. 78 Toyota loose and the cars spun in front of the field. Truex’s car hit the wall and exploded into flames. The driver climbed from his car and both competitors went to the infield care center. Truex was scored 32nd. Busch, who led 87 of the first 110 laps, was scored 33rd. 

After the ninth caution, Kenseth assumed the lead when the race went green on Lap 120, followed by Harvick, Blaney, Hamlin, Jones, Keselowski, Bowyer, McMurray, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. Suarez, Johnson, Logano, Kahne Dillon, AJ Allmendinger, Cole Whitt, Matt DiBenedetto, Gray Gaulding and Joey Gase rounded out the top 20. 

After the first lap, Kenseth remained at the point with Harvick, Hamlin, Blaney, Jones, Keselowski, Bowyer, McMurray, Kurt Busch and Suarez in tow. Bowyer moved up to sixth on Lap 121. Kurt Busch advanced to ninth with Logano 10th. Five laps into the run, Kenseth’s advantage was .457-seconds over Harvick. Larson rallied back to 13th. On Lap 127, Jones passed Blaney. The No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford was the first of the leaders to pit on Lap 129. Joey Logano followed. Denny Hamlin pitted next followed by Clint Bowyer. 

Jones assumed the lead when Kenseth, who had led 21 laps, pitted on Lap 131 along with Harvick, Larson and Suarez. Keselowski moved to the point on Lap 132 after Jones came in for service. 

Keselowski led with 25 laps to go followed by Johnson, Kahne, Bayne, McDowell, Almirola, Ty Dillon, Danica Patrick, Paul Menard and Chris Buescher.

With 20 laps remaining, Keselowski’s advantage was one-second over Johnson, Kahne, Bayne, McDowell, Almirola, Ty Dillon, Patrick, Menard and Buescher continued in the top 10 with Kenseth 11th. On new tires, Kesenth gained two positions on the next lap to move up to ninth. By Lap143, Kenseth climbed to seventh. 

Keselowski extended the lead to 1.4-seconds with 15 laps remaining. On Lap 147, Kenseth passed Almirola for sixth but was 19-seconds behind Keselowski. Kahne pitted from fourth-place on Lap 148. 

The leaders were coming through Turn 4 on Lap 149 when Bowyer and Jones made contact. They checked up to avoid Menard, whose car became loose ahead of them. Bowyer bounced off of the wall just before the entrance of pit road and into his teammate Kurt Busch. 

After Busch was released from the infield care center, he quipped, “I’m on a first name basis with the doctors in there — and that’s not a good thing.”

NASCAR red-flagged the race at the three-hour, seven-minute-mark with 10 laps to decide the race. Keselowski held the point followed by Johnson and Bayne. Kenseth passed McDowell prior to the caution for fourth. Almirola, Hamlin, Harvick, Blaney, Ty Dillon, Patrick, Menard, Logano, Suarez and DiBenedetto rounded out the top 15. Kahne, who pitted before the caution, lined up 16th with new tires. The race returned to yellow after a 20-minute, 20-second-delay.

Kahne assumed the lead when the top 15 drivers pitted. Newman, Keselowski, Bayne, Johnson, Kenseth, Hamlin, Harvick, DiBenedetto and Almirola rounded out the top 10 with seven laps remaining. 

Keselowski moved up to second on the restart followed by Johnson, Bayne, Hamlin, Newman, Kenseth, Harvick, DiBenedetto and Logano. Ty Dillon pinched Larson coming down the front stretch and the No. 42 Chevy slammed into the inside wall and bounced off the outside wall  

Kahne held the point with Keselowski behind. The top 10 remained the same with Ty Dillon running 11th followed by Suarez, Almirola, Austin Dillon and Menard.

Kahne started on the inside with two laps remaining. With the No. 48 car of Johnson smoking, he was still able to take Kahne and Keselowski three-wide going into Turn 3. The move did not end well for Johnson, who ended up in the wall. Kahne retained the lead, with Keseowski second.

“Damn it, I thought I had it,” Keselowski said. 

Bayne moved up to third followed by Hamlin, McDowell, Newman, Kenseth, Logano, Harvick and Suarez for the first attempt at over-time on Lap 162. Kahne, who elected to take the inside lane this time, spun his tires. Hamlin checked up and McDowell turned Bayne collecting Almirola, Blaney, Austin Dillon, Gase and Gray Gaulding. The yellow flag waved for the 12th time — and NASCAR red-flagged the race for the third time just short of the three-hour, 31-minute-mark. 

NASCAR declared Keselowski the leader followed by Kahne, Hamlin, McDowell, Newman, Logano, Kenseth, Suarez, Harvick and DiBenedetto. However, once the yellow was displayed, NASCAR directed Cassill to the garage and McDowell followed with a flat tire. 

“Don’t force it, don’t overdrive it, just do what you do and you’ll be fine,” spotter Joey Meier told  Keselowski.

Kahne took the lead from the outside on the Lap 166 restart and held the point as cars wrecked behind him in the field. 

“We’ve been really close,” said Kahne, who finished second to Tony Stewart in 2005. “We had fast cars back then. Today, strategy got us here. This Farmer’s Insurance Chevrolet was great when it was out front. I’m exhausted. To win at Indy is incredible. I wish my son Tanner was here. “It feels good to win, every one of these people works so hard, it was good to get to Victory Lane. It shows people what we can do when things go our way.”

The race was slowed by a record 14 cautions. There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers.

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