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kasey4Kasey Kahne got an overtime do-over with daylight almost gone, and his jump on Brad Keselowski helped him end an agonizing 102-race winless streak and win a wild Brickyard 400 that saw a record number of cautions.

After Jimmie Johnson's crash – amid a three-wide run into Turn 3 with Keselowski and Kahne – brought out a caution with two laps to go, Kahne was leading and Keselowski second on the first overtime attempt, with Kahne choosing the outside lane in a reverse strategy call from an earlier restart. But Kahne appeared to hold back before the restart zone while Keselowski's lane pushed forward, and it led to an almost immediate caution and red flag when Michael McDowell pushed Trevor Bayne too far and triggered an eight-car crash that blocked the track.

But on the second attempt – with Keselowski taking the outside lane to avoid Speedy Dry – Kahne pulled in front of Keselowski and held through the first two corners, and he was leading at the line when Denny Hamlin hit the wall and triggered a three-car wreck behind them on the backstretch.

"The [restart] before, it just didn't work, everything went wrong," an exhausted Kahne told NBC Sports. "The final one everything went right. And once I got into Turn 1 I had good power and was able to clear him."

It's the first win for Kahne since a victory at Atlanta on Aug. 31, 2014, and the first win for Kahne's crew chief Keith Rodden. Kahne's victory is the 10th Brickyard 400 win for Hendrick Motorsports, who won five with Jeff Gordon and four with Jimmie Johnson, who was one of multiple cars to wreck hard in Sunday's race when he crashed. It also once again kept Roger Penske from his first Brickyard win.

Amid speculation about his future in the No. 5, Kahne said the win meant more in a career sense, although "to win at this track is unreal.

"It feels good to win, you know?" he said. "For all these people that work so hard, it feels good to get into Victory Lane and show that we can do it if things go our way.”

Keselowski finished second, followed by Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth.

“Kasey, he did a heck of a job today, he drove a hell of a race," Keselowski said. "I was happy for him but of course I wanted it for my team. I thought I was in the right spot. You’d seen all day where you get somebody on your outside in the corner and they got real loose, but he drove in there and just…stuck. I don’t know, probably got the wrong lane there, made the wrong call. The double-file restarts, everyone was on edge there and then some, and I guess I just guessed wrong on the last one.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s hopes of winning in his final visit to the Brickyard were dashed when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne in a stackup on lap 76. Earnhardt's car began smoking with apparent radiator damage and his day was done. 

Kyle Busch was denied his third straight Brickyard win when a side-by-side battle for the lead with Martin Truex Jr. on a restart ended in a major crash on lap 112 crash. Truex got loose and collected Busch, who had swept the first two stages.

Sunday's race, which was delayed after lap 12 because of rain for 1 hour, 47 minutes, set records for cautions (14) and cars out.

 

17INDY1nk08709Brad Keselowski could taste the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before a final restart wiped it away.

The leader of the race coming to a second overtime attempt, Keselowski had his choice of lane for the restart. He took the outside, leaving Kasey Kahne on the bottom. It proved to be the wrong choice as Kahne powered by and cleared the overtime line when the final caution flew down the backstretch.

"I felt like I hit it pretty well. Just Kasey, it stuck," Keselowski said of the restart. "He drove through the oil dry. He didn't just drive through it, he drove it in there, and it stuck. You know, lots of credit to him for getting it to stick. It was impressive.

"I didn't feel like I could do that if I was on the bottom lane. Maybe I could have, I don't know. You never know 'til you're in that spot."

With Keselowski coming up short, the driver is now 0-8 at Indianapolis and team owner Roger Penske, the most accomplished IndyCar team owner at the track, has still not won a NASCAR Cup Series race there.

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The No. 2 having a shot at the win was a testament to how hard the team fought. Even as he battled late in the race, Keselowski wasn't happy with how his Ford was handling, saying it wasn't dialed in but crew chief Paul Wolfe and company made it better with every pit stop.

"We just have to take our result and move on," Keselowski said. "We weren't the fastest car today, but our team did a hell of a job executing. I wish I could have executed a little bit better to bring home the win. I'm not sure what that would have took.

"But all in all, good to have a top finish at this track. I think our best finish coming to this race here was ninth. Kind of checked this one off as at least getting a top finish."

There was also a little bit of humor to it.

"I was thinking as I was walking over here (to the media center) about watching a race here with Kasey a few years ago where he was probably going to win it, and a restart at the end he got passed in the same way we did here today," Keselowski said. "I was thinking about that, and thinking, 'You know, I guess if we run up front and do what we did today, then we'll (one day) get a victory like Kasey did.'"

17IND1rl 01926Matt DiBenedetto is told before every race by crew chief Gene Nead to stand on the gas and hope for the best.

"That's pretty much what I did today," DiBenedetto said with a laugh. "Just hoped we were in the right position and hoped it was our day and it was our day, man. That was pretty intense; crazy day."

When the carnage was cleared and as darkness descended on Indianapolis Motor Speedway following a chaotic Brickyard 400, it was DiBenedetto and the single-car team of Archie St. Hilaire with an eighth-place finish. A feat that drew not only jubilant team members to the No. 32 Ford, but an unfamiliar sight to its driver: media members who wanted to talk about the feat.

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"That's quite the accomplishment. This year we had a top 10 (ninth) in the Daytona 500, now an eighth-place finish and another top 10 in the Brickyard 400," DiBenedetto said. "This is, gosh, this is a crazy year for us.

"From where this team was last year to this year, it's unbelievable. It's not all me by any means, it's these guys. We have great people – great crew chief, great team all around. That's what you can do with a little team and great people surrounding you.

"We have 15 employees and we have top 10s in those two races and we've ran really competitive all year. ... It was cool, man. I'm just happy for my team more so than myself for how hard they work."

The 25-year-old DiBenedetto joined Go Fas Racing late during the offseason. In just 20 races with the team, DiBenedetto has delivered the organization its first career top-10 finishes (in 118 starts). He has also collected seven top-25 finishes.

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But while many will point to DiBenedetto just being one of the few to survive, he'll acknowledge that but also point to the hard work he and his team put in.

"I made the greatest save of my life in (Turn) 3. Got clobbered, I don't even know by who, and saved it there," said DiBenedetto. "There was so many close calls and we got damage on the right front.

"It was a little bit of a survival race but at the same time, we had a good car, we were competitive all day. We got a little damage, had to go to the back, but it worked out for us. So, yeah, definitely some survival and also having a good car so we were in position to take advantage of everybody else's mistakes there at the end."

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busch55Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch had worked well together on every restart but one Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The one they didn't eliminated both of them from winning the Brickyard 400.

Truex and Busch crashed in Turn 1 on Lap 112 as the two battled side-by-side for the lead. However, the close racing made Truex just loose enough he got into Busch sending both slamming into the outside wall. The No. 78 of Truex then went burst into flames, but he made escaped uninjured.

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"I just got loose and wrecked him (Kyle Busch) I guess, totally my fault," said Truex. "Didn't really know what to expect in that position and didn't really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault.

"I hate it for Kyle (Busch), he had a great car and we did as well, but that's racing. Glad I was able to get out, fire was bad. I had no brakes and I had to run into the wall a second time just to get it to stop so I could get out. Fortunately I'm OK and we'll live to race another day."

What was notable about the restart when the restart occurred was that Busch had decided he wanted to race Truex for the lead. On previous restarts, the two had worked together to line up in a way that would allow whoever was the leader to jump down from the outside lane in front of second place by the time the two entered Turn 1.

"I guess we could have continued to play the teammate game and try to settle it on a green flag pit stop, but he could be that much faster than me and yard me by three seconds on a run with the clean air then I would never be able to get the opportunity to pass him back even if we had to settle it on a pit stop," said Busch. "That's the way it goes – just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by.

"It's very frustrating and I hate it for my guys; they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening."

Busch started on the pole and was looking for his third consecutive Brickyard 400 win. He will be credited with leading the most laps in the race at 87. When asked if he had the fastest car, Busch said yes.

"We worked well together and that's the hard part about this stuff, is when it's time to go," said Truex, who led eight laps. "I feel awful and just made a mistake. Definitely should have picked the outside and it would have been fine I guess. Just the way it goes. Hate it for Auto Owners and everyone involved at Furniture Row.

"We had an awesome car today and we got out front, I don't think they were going to be able to beat us. A mistake on my part took us out of it, but we'll get them next week."

bowmanRick Hendrick didn't know much about Alex Bowman before his substitution role in the No. 88 last year.

It was Dale Earnhardt Jr. who went to bat for the young driver, and soon the Hendrick Motorsports team owner began to keep an eye on him. So when Earnhardt Jr. informed Hendrick earlier this year of his plan to retire at the end of the season, Hendrick admitted it was an easy process to prepare for next season.

"I didn't want to see Dale tell me he was going to want to retire, but we had Alex in the back of our mind for whatever opportunity we had," Hendrick said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sunday morning. "It wasn't much of a decision at all. Alex was the guy."

Bowman and Dale kinradeIn his 10 fill-in starts for Earnhardt last year, Bowman earned one pole and three top-10 finishes. He also led 200 laps. Hendrick called it a pressure situation considering he was driving the car of the sport's most popular driver.

But between that and all Bowman has done for Hendrick Motorsports in terms of simulator work and supporting his teammates, Hendrick said he deserved the opportunity. 

"We didn't know what was going to happen and we were very, very careful not to guarantee [Bowman] anything, other than if opportunities arose he would have a shot," Hendrick said. "I can't make all the decisions – the sponsors have to be involved – but in my mind, Alex was going to get the next up."

That was the case even with other options available on the driver front, such as Matt Kenseth – who Hendrick said he loves and is a tremendous talent.

"But [Matt] and I have actually talked about in the past," Hendrick said. "Sometimes things just don't line up at the right time."

Throughout the nearly 30-minute press conference, Bowman received high praise from Hendrick, Earnhardt, and sponsor Nationwide. And all involved can't wait to see what he'll be able to do starting in 2018.

"When we called on Alex when Dale got hurt, to be honest with you, I didn't know a lot about Alex. I was going off Dale's recommendation," said Hendrick. "Then when he got in the car and the way he performed and the feedback that he had with all the teammates and the crew chiefs, and they were just super excited about how he performed.

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"Then his relationship with the sponsors through that period, and really the fit factor. The thing that really impressed me was he was so committed to our organization that he was willing to sign a deal just to do the wheel force car for (Chevrolet) or the simulator and wait for an opportunity. ... I'm super excited to have him in the car. I think he's going to do an awesome job. Fast. Smart. Committed. I'm super excited about Alex."

1 1It was a case of the perfect track for the perfect car Saturday at Lime Rock Park as the Porsche GT Team turned the marque's 450th North American pole position into the first international win for the new mid-engine Porsche 911 RSR. Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner took the victory in the No. 911 Porsche ahead of teammates Laurens Vanthoor and Gimmi Bruni in the No. 912 to complete a 1-2 for the CORE autosport-led program.

Adding to the German brand’s mastery of the tiny bullring circuit, Park Place Motorsports won GT Daytona in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R with sports car ace Jorg Bergmeister and team owner Patrick Lindsey behind the wheel.

“That feels good,” Werner said after watching Pilet cross the finish line. “More important for everybody on this team, we got what everybody worked for so long. [For] over one year, everybody was waiting for this win. This race went flawless without any issues. With our teammates in P2, it cannot get any better.”

Pilet was handed a comfortable lead when he took over from Werner thanks to a mistake by Bruni in the sister Porsche, and managed the gap until the checkered flag. Martin Tomczyk was almost a lap down in third with the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M6 he shares with John Edwards.

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Bruni owned the Northeast Grand Prix’s opening stint as he sprinted away from pole position and drew out a lead that rested in the three-second range over Werner. The utter dominance of the Porsche GT Le Mans cars was demonstrated with the gap to the rest of the GTLM field as Edwards trailed Werner by 11 seconds and sat 14 seconds behind Bruni before the first round of pit stops had arrived.

Bruni completed 50 flawless minutes in the No. 912 before surrendering the lead with an off-track excursion. His mistake was costly on a personal level, but the other Porsche was primed to step in and lead.

The Italian pitted to have the Porsche 911 RSR’s radiator inlet ducts cleared of dirt and grass, handed over to teammate Vanthoor, and the Belgian began his effort to recover the 20 seconds or so lost by Bruni. Vanthoor made slight inroads on Pilet, but still finished 14.5 seconds arrears to the winner. Tomczyk took the final podium spot, but did so after coming home 39.9 seconds behind Pilet on a track where GTLM cars set their best race laps in the 51-second range.

The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team went for a repeat of its daring one-stop race strategy that brought its first win with the No. 67 Ford GT in Monterey last year. This time, it came within five minutes of finding a modicum of success with the ploy. Despite starting second with fuel-meister Richard Westbrook onboard the No. 67, the FCGR team knew the Porsches would walk away and had the Briton saving copious amounts of fuel from the start.

westbrook baker latWestbrook went an amazing 1h17m on a tank of fuel – 87 laps – and handed over to Ryan Briscoe with 1h23m left to complete. Packing 25 GTLM and GTD cars onto the tight 1.5-mile Lime Rock track was a surefire recipe for at least one caution to help Briscoe with fuel saving, but it never came. He was forced to pit for a splash of fuel with five minutes left to run and surrendered third place to Tomczyk. Antonio Garcia was promoted to fourth in the No. 3 Corvette as Briscoe ambled home 52 seconds behind Pilet in fifth.

“It was a gamble doing it, but we had to do something,” Westbrook said. “The Porsches were way too fast. We rolled the dice.”

While it couldn’t be said of GTD, GTLM was relatively clean from start to finish, barring a mistake by Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette C7.R.

An outside passing on Dirk Muller in the No. 66 Ford GT led to a spin for the Corvette, which hit the Ford while sailing backward. Milner briefly returned to the track before heading back to the pits for time-consuming repairs that would take 30 laps. Muller lost four laps and continued after the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team replaced a broken suspension component.

“It’s hard to tell what happened there,” Milner said. “It looked like the Ford checked up earlier than I expected; I tried whatever I could to not hit him but that probably caused more problems. I’m sorry for those guys. I never want to be involved in an accident like that and take somebody else out of the race. Looking at the data, I was slower than I had been going in there. But that’s racing. We’re trying to make split-second decisions. Most of the times they are the right ones, but every now and then they’re the wrong ones.”

The No. 66 Ford clawed its way back to seventh in class. The No. 4 Corvette was last in GTLM.


Park place lime rock bakerLime Rock’s big crowd was frequently entertained by hits, spins and unforced errors in GTD. Even the race-winning Park Place Porsche engaged in a punch or two on the road to Victory Lane as carnage and mistakes shaped the podium.

A smart drive by polesitter Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers helped the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to take second, and inspired drives by Pat Long and Daniel Morad in the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R gave the Rolex 24 at Daytona winners a fine third.

“It was a battle royale at the start, I had a couple of grind offs with the Lexus guys, but at the end of the day, we had great track position, which is important here” Lindsey said while marveling at Bergmeister's performance. “It allowed Jorg to run a relatively clean race compared to mine…made me feel bad about the bumping and grinding I did early on.”

Bergmeister crossed the start/finish line with 3.4 seconds in hand over Sellers and 4.2 seconds on Long.

“With a call of about 30 minutes to go, I had a feeling that’s when the pace would ramp up,” Sellers said. “I could hang out with Bergmeister for the first five to 10 minutes. From there on, it was just making sure I could still maintain and not lose to Patrick Long behind us.”

Lexus DoleThe untold story of the GTD race came from the 3GT Racing Lexus camp, where the No. 15 RC F GT3 driven by Jack Hawksworth was in a position to deliver the brand’s first win. The former IndyCar driver passed Jens Klingmann in Turner Motorsport’s No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 on Lap 76 and held the position until giving the Lexus over to Robert Alon with one hour remaining. The stop would quickly unravel their chances. The service ran long, Alon stalled the car while trying to leave the pits, and once the final GTD stops were completed, the Lexus was relegated to fifth. Alon would lose more positions on the road before coming home an unrepresentative seventh.

Katherine Legge made few friends at Lime Rock after hitting and knocking the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini into the barrier in the opening moments of the race. A double winner this season, Legge received a drive-through penalty for the contact, which cost a lap. And there was more to come from the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Dion von Moltke, driving the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, was the next to get hit by Legge, who nerfed the German machine into the grass. IMSA sent another drive-through request to the MSR pits, and by Lap 20, the No. 93 served its second penalty. Once Andy Lally stepped into the car, the rough driving continued and it was needed to overcome the earlier setbacks. It wasn’t a win, but his efforts to haul the No. 93 up to fifth at the finish was nothing short of remarkable.

Unwilling to let the Acura team get through the race without a taste of adversity, the racing gods seemingly dispatched Townsend Bell to pull the exact same nerfing maneuver on the sister No. 86 Acura driven by Jeff Segal. The hit took place in the same corner and in the same manner that earned Legge her second drive-through. For the sake of consistency, IMSA extended the same invitation to Bell, who took the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 for a slow stroll down pit lane to pay for his offense.

The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 lost a painful amount of points just after the halfway point when Jeroen Bleekemolen suffered a rear suspension failure on the car. It’s possible that contact it received from Klingmann in the Turner BMW caused the problem. Klingmann would soon join Bleekemolen behind the wall for necessary repairs to his BMW.

The Mercedes, which held second in the standings coming into Lime Rock, would retire, while the BMW lost 12 laps before finishing 14th at Turner’s home race. With a 1-2 in GTLM and a 1-3 in GTD, Porsche fans will have plenty to celebrate until IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns August 6 at Road America.

17IND1mt1117Whatever Kyle Busch and the No. 18 team found at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the last few years has yet to wear off.

For the second consecutive year, Busch will start on the pole for the Brickyard 400. Busch laid down a lap of 187.301 mph in the final round of qualifying to take the top spot over Kevin Harvick at 186.332 mph.

Last year, Busch won both the pole and the race at Indianapolis.

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"I certainly like to think so, but anything can happen in these races," Busch said of a repeat performance. "Just fortunate to be in a fast racecar here at Indy and being on the pole with our Skittles Camry has been a lot of fun the last couple of years.

"We've been really good here, we just need to put it all together and today we did that. The guys made some really good adjustments for me in the garage for practice today. I didn't feel we were the best. We didn't make any mock (qualifying) runs, the day was so short, so that just goes to show you how good these guys are and how dedicated we all are to trying to win this thing."

Busch will lead the field to the green as the two-time and defending winner at Indianapolis. In his last three races at the speedway, Busch has finished no worse than second.

"You've got to think about it a little bit, but you can't let it get your sights set so focused on that and screw something else up," Busch said of winning three straight races. "It's just a matter of a stat. But in all honestly, it's something that we want to get."

Harvick will start second ahead of Jamie McMurray in third, four-time Indianapolis winner Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Denny Hamlin fifth.

Monster Energy Series point leader Martin Truex Jr. will start sixth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 13th in his final Brickyard 400. Kyle Larson will start 25th.

UP NEXT: Brickyard 400 at 2:30 p.m. ET.

RosenqvistChip Ganassi Racing director Mike Hull believes that funding is the only thing standing between Swedish ace Felix Rosenqvist and a full-time IndyCar seat.

The three-time Indy Lights race winner and double Macau GP winner completed his second Verizon IndyCar Series test with Ganassi at Mid-Ohio on Thursday, reprising a similar appearance that he made in Scott Dixon's No.9 at the same track last year.

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With a full-time drive in the FIA Formula E series, another drive in Japan's Formula Nippon series, and a burgeoning European sports car career, Rosenqvist's services are in high demand. The Mid-Ohio visit, which came between New York and Montreal Formula E commitments, fell at a perfect point on the calendar.

Using IndyCar's forward-looking rules that allow for an extra test day if an up-and-coming driver like Rosenqvist is used to split the test with the car's regular driver, CGR kept the Swede busy at the winding road course with 90 laps of running prior to handing over to Dixon, who is pursuing his fifth IndyCar title.

"He'd never been to Mid-Ohio until he tested for us last year, we were lucky to have him again this year, and I wish there was a way he could find himself a home here because he deserves a ride in IndyCar," said Hull.

"He can read the car, feel the tires, read the track, and he adapts himself as they degrade. And he understands the penalty of driving too hard, which is rare for a driver his age. He's one of those guys who, under pressure, can get it done."

Asked if he could be in the frame for a position alongside Dixon in the future, Hull pointed to CGR's limited number of fully-funded cars in its Honda-powered stable.

"At one time in IndyCar racing, everybody was flush with cash and you always hired the best talent," he said. "If this were 1997, he's be in somebody's car already."

Dixon, who shares a manager with Rosenvqist in Stefan Johanssen, was equally impressed by the versatile 25-year-old's performance.

"Felix did a great job," Dixon told RACER. "He's a huge talent. To get him will be tough. For any team in IndyCar, it would be positive."

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