BRISTOL, TN (WFXG) - Kasey Kahne gave it his best shot Saturday night in the Irwin Tools 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway but, just couldn't manage to outrun Matt Kenseth over the last 12 laps for the victory.
It was certainly an exciting ending to a hard fought race under the lights that saw many of the Chase contenders fall victim to the high banks of Bristol. Point leader Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Kyle Busch were all involved in accidents that cost them a lot of points with only two races to go until the Chase.
Strategy was the name of the game in the closing laps and Kahne felt that his team had made the right decisions to carry them to victory.
"It's disappointing not to win here," said Kahne after the race about his final charge to the front. "I thought we had the best car the last 200 laps, and it was a lot of work. We didn't start the best, but Kenny made a lot of good calls, and our strategy was perfect at the end."
The young Hendrick Motorsports driver certainly had the best car over the final 25 laps but just couldn't seem to find a way around Kenseth.
"I needed a win bad, but I also needed a finish, and I just didn't do anything crazy," explained Kahne about his mentality over those final few laps. "I just basically ran as hard as I could and tried to pass him two different times and ran on his bumper and hoped he'd screw up, and he really never did."
Kahne and Kenseth have had a little history this season with Kahne finishing second to Kenseth Las Vegas, Kansas, and now Bristol. They also have had some issues that resulted in Kenseth and crashing Kahne out of a few races.
That history led many to believe that Kahne would take the opportunity to return the favor and bump Kenseth out of the way in route to victory. However, that is just not Kahne's style.
"I've always really raced that way," said Kahne on why he didn't take Kenseth out when he had the chance. "I don't have any experience doing it for one, and for two, that's just kind of how I've always raced. I don't know, I just don't -- I think at the end of the day I just don't wreck people."
Kenseth wasn't surprised that Kahne raced him so cleanly but certainly expected him to pass him for the win over the final sprint to the checkers.
"Kasey has got a great reputation," said Kenseth on his victory. "He's a really hard racer, really talented, and he's also a really fair racer, as well. I was expecting it to be about like it was, but I really thought he was going to pass me."
The win was Kenseth's 5th of the season and locked him into the Chase. Kahne on the other hand moved up to 8th in points but is still only 29 points ahead of 10th position. With two races to go in the regular season, he still has to work hard to make the playoffs.