Kasey Kahne

In The Fast Lane: Most Improved after Daytona

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Photo by: Sarah Crabill

The third superspeedway event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule was a wild one in Daytona, Florida – where a young star earned his first series victory in overtime.

This week’s Top 5 features some fresh faces that we don’t normally see, some for the first time this season.

Several drivers scored their best finishes of the year, one earning the first top-10 finish of his career.

No. 1 Erik Jones – Erik Jones earned his first career Cup win on Saturday night after passing the defending series champion on the last lap in overtime.

Jones went a lap down after being involved in a multicar wreck on Lap 65. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver failed to earn stage points, but secured his place into the 2018 playoffs with his victory.

Jones sits in the 13th position in the points standings, 301 points behind teammate Kyle Busch and 55 points from Aric Almirola, who is in 10th place.

No. 2 Kasey Kahne – Kasey Kahne earned his first top-5 finish of the year and with new team Leavine Family Racing, finishing fourth.

Kahne led 17 laps and earned stage points in Stage 2 (fourth). He was 1 of 26 cars involved in a crash on Lap 54 when Brad Keselowski was turned after bumper contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Kahne’s finish is his first top 5 since winning last year’s Brickyard 400 in July. He sits 26th in the points standings, 480 points behind the leader and 138 points from Stenhouse in the 16th place cutoff.

No. 3 Matt DiBenedetto – Matt DiBenedetto earned his first top 10 of the 2018 season on Saturday, finishing seventh.

DiBenedetto failed to earn stage points, but ran as high as third throughout 400 miles.

The Go Fas Racing driver is 30th in the points standings, 535 points behind Busch and 104 points from 20th place.

No. 4 Austin Dillon – Austin Dillon followed his Daytona 500 win up with a ninth-place finish in the Coke Zero Sugar 400.

Dillon earned stage points in Stage 1 (ninth) and Stage 2 (eighth). He ran as high as second and held a 12th place average.

Dillon is 18th in the points standings, 402 points behind Busch and 60 away from 16th place.

No. 5 Ty Dillon – Ty Dillon’s top-10 finish at Daytona wasn’t just the first of the year for the Germain Racing driver, it was the first of his MENCS career.

Dillon finished sixth on Saturday, earning him his first top-10 in a career that spans five years, three of which are full-time.

Dillon failed to earn stage points in Stage 1, but led three laps and finished fifth in Stage 2.

Dillon is 29th in the points standings, 505 points behind the leader.

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Kasey Kahne Excels at the Brickyard

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Photo by: Sean Gardner

A long day in Indianapolis, which included a red flag delay for rain and two others for incidents, ended with Hendrick Motorsports’ Kasey Kahne in Victory Lane.

Kahne snapped over a hundred race winless streak for the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 in overtime after battling with Brad Keselowski for his 18th career MENCS victory.

“The career is big, for sure—but the win and the history here,” Kahne said. “To win at this track is unreal. We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff (Gordon) and we lost to Tony (Stewart); just some fast cars back then.”

Kahne may not have had the fastest car, but he delivered through a series of crashes that left the driver of the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet with exhaustion and some cramps at the conclusion of the extended event.

“Today, strategy got us here. This Farmers Insurance Chevrolet was great once I got out front. I just had to get there. I’m exhausted. But, an unbelievable win. The team just kept working. We had great pit stops.”

Kahne received the lead after a multi-car crash involving Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, and Erik Jones brought out the tenth caution of the evening. Kahne, who pitted one lap earlier, had fresh tires and opted to stay out for track position.

Keselowski acquired the lead on the restart, but his run was cut short when the No. 6 of Trevor Bayne spun on the frontstrech and collected a half dozen cars along with him.

Keselowski elected for the top on the restart, but Kahne persevered through the dry oil to get ahead of the Team Penske driver.

“Well, the one before just didn’t work,” Kahne said, “Everything went wrong. On the final one, everything went right. And once I got to Turn 1, I had good power and was able to clear him off (Turn) 1. I’m exhausted. And, it’s pretty crazy.”

Two-time Brickyard 400 winner Kyle Busch finished 34th after securing Stage 1 and Stage 2 wins. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver was involved in a Lap 111 wreck with Martin Truex Jr. that put their chance at history to an end.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was eliminated after contact with Bayne on Lap 77 left him with damage to his radiator.

“There was just a bunch of cars slowing down, starting a chain reaction. We got into the back of (Bayne),” he said. “It just knocked the radiator out of us. We had a great car. We had a top-10 car. I thought we could finish there.”

Only four playoff spots remain open with six races to go in the 2017 regular season. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head back to Pocono, where Chris Buescher is the defending race winner.

HMS to race DEWcision schemes at Richmond

52488c16_dewcision_social Credit: Gray Caldwell

Mountain Dew will be displayed on three NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers cars during this weekend’s race at Richmond International Raceway.

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chase Elliott, and Kasey Kahne will each represent the paint schemes to promote Mountain Dew’s summer campaign, DEWcision.

Mountain Dew is bringing two of its flavored products, Pitch Black and Baja Blast, back to a store near you for a limited time. The summer campaign will determine which flavor will remain on the shelves after the summer.

You can cast a vote for your favorite Mountain Dew flavor you think should remain a permanent product at MountainDew.com/DEWcision2016, by completing in one of the video and photo challenges, or Twitter with #VotePitchBlack and #VoteBajaBlast.

Voting has begun and the winner will be announced after the summer votes are counted for. Watch the drivers with their special paint schemes in action this Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 1PM/ET on FOX.