Kasey Kahne made up for the disappointment of being denied Las Vegas victory last week with a great drive to win at Bristol Motor Speedway.
In an entertaining race, the Hendrick Chevrolet driver saw off the challenge from reigning champion Brad Keselowski, polesitter Kyle Busch and the charging Kurt Busch to claim a comfortable win.
“This is one of those tracks that, as a driver, you feel like you really need to win at," said Kahne. “We've been trying for a long time. To pull it off, I feel is a big accomplishment for our guys and myself. There are so many things that are thrown at you when you come to this place. We'd been fast here other times and not able to finish the deal.”
Kahne ultimately took advantage of fresher tires to work his way by Keselowski, who moved to the front by not pitting during the next-to-last caution period.
“I don't think I had anything for Kasey. I don't know if anyone did,” said Keselowski. “He was so good through the middle, really everywhere. He was kind of in a league of his own.”
In the closing laps, the Penske driver was passed by Kyle Busch – who once again recovered from a pitlane speeding penalty to finish in the top five – and had to fend off his brother Kurt Busch, who drove his best race to date for Furniture Row to recover from two laps down to take fourth.
Pre-race points leader Jimmie Johnson was a solid top-10 runner throughout, but in the closing stages a blown right-front tire sent him into the wall. It was one of a number of blowouts, which accounted for most of the 11 caution periods – more than double the amount of last year's race.
Jeff Gordon had worked his way to the front with a two-tire change when the rest of the leaders took four. Despite the old rubber, he held on to the lead, but the gamble failed when the right-front tire blew and sent him up the track and into the wall.
Matt Kenseth was catching Gordon for the lead at the time and was caught up in the incident, wrecking his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as he slammed into the side of the crashing Hendrick Chevrolet.
It was also a disastrous race for three-time champion Tony Stewart, who was sent spinning into the wall at high speed following an early blowout. He managed to get his damaged Chevrolet back to the pits for lengthy repairs and limped around at the tail end of the field to the finish.
Joey Logano, who started 10th, was challenging Gordon for the lead on lap 348 when he tangled with Denny Hamlin, his former teammate at Gibbs. The incident led to a post-race exchange between Logano, Hamlin and heir respective crews.
Results - 500 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap
1. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 2h53m25.000s
2. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota + 1.700s
3. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford + 2.314s
4. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet + 2.439s
5. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota + 3.304s
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 6.342s
7. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 6.902s
8. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota + 7.015s
9. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 7.619s
10. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 7.986s
11. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 8.114s
12. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 8.399s
13. AJ Allmendinger Phoenix Chevrolet + 8.778s
14. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 9.104s
15. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 9.312s
16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford + 9.483s
17. Joey Logano Penske Ford + 16.609s
18. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 1 lap
19. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap
20. David Stremme Swan Toyota + 2 laps
21. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 2 laps
22. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 2 laps
23. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota + 2 laps
24. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 4 laps
25. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford + 4 laps
26. Josh Wise Front Row Ford + 4 laps
27. JJ Yeley Baldwin Chevrolet + 5 laps
28. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 5 laps
29. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota + 9 laps
30. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet + 13 laps
31. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 36 laps
32. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 42 laps
33. Landon Cassill Circle Sport Chevrolet + 90 laps
Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 390 laps
Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 390 laps
Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 321 laps
Aric Almirola Petty Ford 245 laps
Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 234 laps
David Reutimann BK Toyota 184 laps
Scott Speed Leavine Ford 184 laps
Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 159 laps
Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 26 laps
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 3 laps