Kasey Kahne scored his first Sprint Cup victory in more than a year by employing a pit strategy that got him to the front of the pack at the end of the race. Both Kahne and second-place finisher Tony Stewart wisely used a planned pit model and then raced each other to the end. The racing was enhanced by NASCAR’s new double-file restart procedure.
Because of the length of time it takes to make a lap around the Infineon Raceway, many teams relied on their own fuel mileage agenda and pitted on planned laps regardless of whether the caution flag was waving or not. Kahne’s Kenny Francis-led group used the scenario to put its Dodge in command with 30 laps remaining and no plans to return to pit road.
Kahne used the double-file restart rule that allowed the leader to choose his restart lane, inside or outside, to his advantage under the road course’s unique conditions. Kahne repeatedly chose the inside lane off the exit of the final turn, which put him on the outside lane for the first turn. Each time the No. 9 held the advantage over Stewart’s Chevrolet.
Kahne moved within three points of the Chase cutoff and now holds the 13th position. Stewart’s runner-up helped him maintain his championship lead.
(Patrick Reynolds is a freelance writer and contributing columnist to All Left Turns.)