Kahne Too Tough to Tame in the NCWTS at Darlington
Kasey Kahne proved too tough to tame while sailing to his second straight Darlington Raceway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory.
The Sprint Cup Series regular raced the usually dominant No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) truck to his third career NCWTS victory in just his fourth career start. He earned his previous series victories at Darlington and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004. He snared second at Pocono Raceway last season with KBM in his only start of the campaign.
The Enumclaw, Wash., Sprint Cup Series regular started the 147-lap, 200-mile dance with the "Lady in Black" second alongside rookie pole award winner Cole Whitt. Kahne wheeled to the lead for the final of four times off a Lap 95 restart by passing Elliott Sadler's No. 2 machine and showed perseverance by surviving three more restarts along with a charge from Todd Bodine in the No. 30 Germain truck before cruising across the finish line 1.116 seconds in front of Ron Hornaday, Jr., in the No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc., truck.
"I actually had a little more off of (Turn) two. In the middle of one and two up by the wall, I was rubbing the right side with the top of our truck. We had just enough room that we were able to hold on, get down the backstretch better than anyone else and just kind of drive off from there," Kahne said of his final restart with three laps remaining.
The effort helped him become the only driver in series history to bank victories in three of their first four career series starts.
"I came here this weekend wanting to win. That was the plan. This is a tough series, these guys do an awesome job. That restart there with Todd (Bodine), our truck was really good once I could get rolling. He tried to get me all the way up to the wall and I think he got himself loose by trying to squish me into the wall. We had a good run down the backstretch and some good laps after that.
"It was a solid run. I have to thank Kyle Busch for letting me drive this thing and this whole team. The guys do such a good job. It was a lot of fun driving for them and working with Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and Rick Ren (general manager) and all the guys. Thanks to all the fans. What a great crowd here tonight at Darlington. This is one of my favorite race tracks and I'm really glad I came," Kahne said.
Bodine placed third, Matt Crafton rolled across the finish line fourth in the No. 88 ThorSport Racing truck and James Buescher delivered a fifth-place finish in the No. 31 Turner Motorsports truck. "When you have a situation like that and the position I was in, running second, you want to win and you want to pass him. That's what we're all here for, but the way our season has been going, we had to get to the checkered flag. I gave it a shot and got sucked around, got loose and all that so we finished third. We were right there, Kasey, Elliott, Ron and me. That's typical Darlington," Bodine said.
Crafton kept his spot atop the series standings after taking his first top-five and third top-10 finish of the season in as many starts. He holds a six-point advantage on Whitt, who placed eighth in the race and charted his second top-10 finish of the season.
The series visits Martinsville Speedway on April 2 for its next event. Coverage is set for a 1:45 p.m., start on the Motor Racing Network and Sirius XM 128. SPEED will begin television coverage at 2:00 p.m.
The NCWTS makes its first of two 2011 Kentucky Speedway visits on July 7 as part of a NASCAR tripleheader weekend that will additionally spotlight a July 8 300-mile Nationwide tilt and the inaugural Sprint Cup Series "Quaker State 400" July 9.
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Story by Mike Schmaltz with contribution from NASCAR