Kahne takes Truck Series win at Charlotte in dramatic drag race to checkered flag
CONCORD, N.C.—Driving for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports, in the organization’s second start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, polesitter Kasey Kahne won a two-lap drag race against Erik Jones to earn his fifth victory in six starts in the series.
Kahne’s victory in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway denied the dominant No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota of Jones, who led 88 laps but ran a disappointing second after a late caution forced a green-white-checkered-flag finish that took the race five laps past its scheduled distance of 134 laps.
In his six Truck Series starts, Kahne has five wins and a second-place finish.
Kahne’s margin of victory was a mere .005 seconds, tied for second closest in series history behind the .002-second margin of Kyle Busch over Aric Almirola at Talladega in October 2010.
“Jones was really fast,” Kahne said. “He was kind of in a league of his own when he could get to clean air. I knew if we could stay back and stay with him (on the final restart), as long as he didn’t get to clean air, it would be all right…
“I was able to side-draft, and it worked out perfect to get back to the line.”
Less than half a lap before Jones would have taken the white flag—after Jones made a deft pass for the lead to the outside on Lap 131—Daniel Hemric’s accident in Turn 1 caused the fifth caution of the night, sending the race to overtime.
Jones picked the outside lane for the final restart on Lap 138, but couldn’t clear Kahne, who side-drafted Jones’ Toyota Tundra off the final corner and beat him to the stripe.
In the wake of last week’s misfortune at Kansas Speedway, where Jones led 151 of 167 laps but ran short of fuel while leading late in the race, Friday night’s result left the young driver bitterly disappointed.
“It’s really a shame that we can’t bring it home,” Jones said. “I really thought tonight was the night. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t do it…
“It just sucks. I don’t know what to say. It just really, really hurts. I can’t believe it, man. I really wanted this one, and it’s hard to come home second.”
Interestingly, though Kahne and Jones qualified on the front row, both drivers had to start the race from the rear of the field, Kahne for an unapproved adjustment (changing a broken shock) and Jones for arriving late to the drivers’ meeting.
But by Lap 26, after the first caution, Jones had the lead, a position he maintained until the late caution gave Kahne the opportunity he needed.