Kahne Hopeful after Indy Run

Kasey Kahne

Kahne led a race-high 70 laps at Indy. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

INDIANAPOLIS - Somewhere within the humanity of people to his left was Jeff Gordon, celebrating his fifth Brickyard 400.

It was where Kasey Kahne thought he would be.

Instead, he walked by without fanfare. Moments earlier his crew pushed his car by after he ran out of fuel on the final lap, adding a final chapter of humility to a race Kahne thought he could win.

Kahne was not bitter. He said had a sixth-place car. He smiled as he recounted the games Gordon played with him during the final caution, pushing him and trying to get him to use more fuel. He eagerly anticipates this weekend’s race at Pocono Raceway where horsepower again will be important and Kahne should be strong.

Still, it was hard not to think about the final restart 17 laps from the finish where Gordon took the lead from him.

With track position critical, whoever took the lead on the restart would likely win if there wasn’t another caution.

Kahne chose the inside lane because he said there had been a little more grip throughout the race.

Perfect, thought Gordon.

“I was hoping Kasey would pick the inside,’’ Gordon said. “He was loose. I knew if I could get to the outside of him, he was going to have a hard time to get on the throttle off the corner.’’

First, they had to get to the line.

Kahne tried to slow the pace. Gordon, who had spun his tires earlier, wanted a faster pace to keep from repeating that. He briefly moved ahead of Kahne.

“Jeff Gordon controlled the start,’’ Kahne said.

Gordon eased off the gas

“I thought I had let him go too much,’’ Gordon said.

He closed the gap.

“I was just able to get to his corner as I shifted to fourth gear and able to have the best position I could ask for,’‘ Gordon said. “We were both really sideways.’’

Said Kahne: “I thought I got back to him and beat him into (Turn) 1 and then he was just in the preferred line at that point. Looking back, I should have chosen the top (lane). I fought pretty hard. It just didn’t work out.’’

Said Gordon: “Out of nowhere I had the restart of my life.’’

Maybe it was for the better for Kahne.

He was running fifth when he ran out of fuel on the final lap. He lost only one spot before coasting across the finish line. After Kahne got shuffled back on the restart, he saved fuel, knowing his chances of winning were gone. That allowed him to score his fourth top-10 finish in the last six races.

Kahne admits had he maintained the lead on the restart, he would not have been able to save fuel and would have run out sooner. He likely would have been the final car on the lead lap, which would have been 26th - the last spot on the lead lap. That would have cost him 20 points.

He left Indianapolis four points behind Austin Dillon for the fifth and final spot in the Chase available to non-winners at this time.

“As far as points go, that was the best we would have done, so it all worked out perfect for points,’’ Kahne said.

The performance meant even more to him.

“That’s the best effort the team has put out all season long by a good bit,’’ Kahne said. “That’s something to build on. We can still make it in.’’

He has six races left to do so.

He headed toward his next challenge as he walked down pit road, while Gordon celebrated.

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