LOUDON, N.H. – Kasey Kahne got the one thing everybody wanted – track position – when it mattered most, and he cashed in by leading the final 66 laps to win the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
It was the second win of the season for Kahne, who is trying to lock himself into a wild card spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup later this season.
“We did it with pit strategy,” Kahne said. “We got track position, and we were able to lead those final laps there.”
Denny Hamlin finished second with the car that was most likely to win the race. He led half the race – a total of 150 laps – until confusion under the final caution flag of the day cost Hamlin his lead. He went from the lead to 13 in the running order after taking four tires on his pit stop when most everybody else took four tires only.
Hamlin charged all the way to second – within one second of the lead in lapped traffic over the final few laps of the event – but ran out of time when his car washed up toward the wall in Turn 4 as the cars came to the white flag.
“It was just a miscommunication,” Hamlin said. “I told (crew chief Darian Grubb) all I needed was tires, and that was it. He took it that I needed four tires. It was just a miscommunication, but we still had a shot at the win. I just didn't pass the all the cars quick enough.”
With such a big lead at the time the caution flew for David Reutimann on Lap 235, Hamlin said simple logistics factored into the slip up.
“I think it was a perfect storm,” he said. “The caution came out and we caught the pace car right away... We just didn't have enough time to be 100 percent clear with one another on where we were headed.”
Joe Gibbs Racing was the organization to beat all afternoon long at New Hampshire. Kyle Busch won the pole and led the first 72 laps of the event. But he was penalized on his first pit stop of the day for being too fast entering pit road, and he never recovered.
In total, JGR drivers led 227 of 301 laps – but it was Hendrick Motorsports that collected the big hardware at the end of the day.
Kahne started on the outside pole and stalked the leaders until striking with strategy on pit road. His car was then good enough to stay out in front of Hamlin, even in lapped traffic while being stalked.
“It was kind of a non-call there at the end,” said Kahne's crew chief, Kenny Francis. “I was shocked that (Hamlin) took four tires.”
“I was definitely focused on the lapped cars I was going by, and I lost a ton of forward drive (in traffic),” Kahne said. “Denny was coming on four (tires)... I was paying attention to where he was, but I felt pretty good about the lead we had.”
Clint Bowyer was third, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski rounding out the Top-5.
Point leader Matt Kenseth struggled and finished 13th.