Tire decision undoes ‘basically perfect’ Kasey Kahne run
Monday, May. 27, 2013
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver (29) Kevin Harvick's pit crew hurry to make the final adjustments to the car in the closing laps of the Coca Cola 600 on Sunday, May 26, 2013 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Harvick went on to win the race with (5) Kasey Kahne and (78) Kurt Busch finishing second and third. Jeff Siner - email@example.com
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CONCORD Kasey Kahne woke up Sunday morning feeling crummy. He had flu-like symptoms.
That’s not exactly how you want to feel when you’ve got NASCAR’s longest race – the Coca-Cola 600 – facing you later in the day.
But Kahne, thanks to the restorative effects of the intravenous fluids he took a few hours before the race, recovered quickly enough to last the entire 400 laps and very nearly win the race.
He finished second, with a worn set of tires the only difference between him and winner Kevin Harvick.
“I drove basically perfect for 600 miles,” Kahne said. “That’s tough to do.”
To do that, Kahne had to feel better. Before the driver’s meeting at 4 p.m., he took the IV. It worked.
“Once they kicked in, it was the best I felt all day,” Kahne said.
Kahne, a three-time 600 winner, started the race sixth. It wasn’t long, however, before he had moved to the front of the pack. He stayed there for 161 laps.
“We had had a great car from the drop of the green (flag),” Kahne said. “It was definitely our race to lose, especially the last 100 laps.”
But that is when Kahne lost it. While other drivers elected to pit late in the race to change tires, Kahne’s crew chief Kenny Francis kept the No. 5 Chevy on the track.
After a late caution, Harvick, who had gone in for two fresh right-side tires, ran away from the field – including Kahne.
“I knew I was in trouble because my tires were hot,” Kahne said. “(Harvick) had cold right sides. That’s a big deal. He drove away once he got the lead.”
Sunday was Kahne’s No. 5 team’s fourth top-five finish. He won at Bristol in the season’s fourth race. He’s fared well at other 1.5-mile tracks like Charlotte, also finishing second at Las Vegas and Kansas.
“I felt like we were the best car in all three of them,” Kahne said. “We’ve had the fastest at all three of them. I feel really good about that. We need a little more at the very end so we can make sure we can win a couple of these.”