BRISTOL -- Kasey Kahne was finally able to close the deal at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kahne grabbed the lead when Brad Keselowski struggled on the final restart and paced the final 39 laps to win Sunday’s Food City 500.
Kahne had taken the lead from Keselowski 15 laps earlier, only to lose the lead two laps later in lapped traffic. On the restart, Keselowski was bumped from behind by Denny Hamlin, clearing the way for Kahne to pull away.
“When he spun his tires, I didn’t know what had happened,” Kahne said. “I couldn’t really see, but I just tried to stay up high and get my momentum going.”
Once out front, there was no catching Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet. He beat runner-up Kyle Busch’s Toyota by a 1.7 second margin of victory for his 15th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“I think our car was just that good,” Kahne said. “Once I got to 10 laps to go, I could see where Kyle and Brad were, and I was able to keep that gap. It was just a fast car. I was able to get away and control the race from there.”
Keselowski, who finished third, blamed Hamlin for ruining his chances of winning.
“I got ran over,” Keselowski said.“It was going to be a helluva battle with me and Kasey with 40 laps to go, but the 11 car ran over the back of me.
“I just know my rear tires were off the ground before I got to the restart zone. Eventually I got hit so hard it pushed my foot in the gas pedal. That was the deal. I never had another chance.”
It was Kahne’s first win of the season and his first at Bristol Motor Speedway after a decade of trying.
“This is a big race for me,” Kahne said. “I feel like when you race in the Sprint Cup Series, Bristol is one of those tracks where you need to win at. There are so many things thrown at you when you come to this place. We’ve been trying so long, so it’s a big accomplishment for my guys and myself. We’ve been fast here a bunch of times, but we hadn’t been able to close the deal.”
Busch, the pole sitter, led the first 55 laps, but fell behind after being assessed a speeding penalty on pit road. Back in the pack, he was never able to get all the way back to the front.
“It was a good run for us battling back from our pit road penalty,” Busch said. “You’ve got to hustle it and battle back, especially on restarts. Track position is everything here. I wish I could have kept up with the 5, but he took off and left us.”
Kurt Busch in a Chevrolet and Clint Bowyer in a Toyota rounded out the top five.
The race was slowed by 10 cautions, the first time on lap 10 when three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart spun around and slapped the turn one wall.
On lap 349, Hamlin got into the back of Joey Logano, spinning him out and leaving them blaming each other for the accident. Race leaders Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth were taken out on lap 389 after the right front tire blew on Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet. It pushed Gordon into the turn 4 wall where Kenseth’s No. 20 Toyota came slamming into him from behind.
Gordon finished 34th and Kenseth was 35th.
Other notables included Dale Earnhardt Jr. sixth, Jimmie Johnson 22nd, Danica Patrick 28th and Stewart 31st.