Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Kasey Kahne wins Nationwide race at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH — Kasey Kahne nipped Regan Smith at the Daytona International Speedway finish line Friday night for his first Nationwide series victory since 2007.

Kahne weaved his way through traffic during a two-lap overtime sprint to the finish but didn't appear to be in the mix for a shot at winning the Subway Firecracker 250 as Smith pulled away. But as the field hurtled through the final turn, Kyle Larson jumped out of line and made it three-wide behind Smith.

Kahne moved into the top lane and, using a push from Ryan Sieg, charged alongside Smith and beat him to the line by .021 seconds. "Everything I did tonight was wrong. I looked in my mirror and would be like 'Go' and then decide not to and it'd be the right move," Kahne said. "I didn't really do a whole lot right, but at the end, I got a big push from (Sieg) and was able to get by Regan there. Just had tons of momentum there coming off Turn 4 and had a fast car."

Smith couldn't offer a better last-lap strategy then the one he used: "If I go up any higher, we probably all wreck right there. I don't know how to do it any different. I'll have to study the tape and see where I messed up. I had a pretty good-sized gap, but at that point, you can't crack the throttle or drag the brake. I lost just enough momentum that it didn't quite work out."

It was the sixth win this season for JR Motorsports and second straight following Kevin Harvick's victory last week at Kentucky.

Smith, one of JR Motorsports' two full-time drivers, wound up second in his return to Daytona following his victory in February's season-opener. Despite the defeat, Smith reclaimed the series points lead from Elliott Sadler.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Smith said. "I'm disappointed for the team, I'm disappointed for my guys, and selfishly I'm disappointed. But, for JR Motorsports, I'm happy. A 1-2 finish is great. It's kind of a weird mix of emotions right now. I'm happy for the company and frustrated for the 7 team."

Sieg was a career-best third. "It was a win for us," said Sieg. "Hopefully it will bring some more sponsors. It would be nice to have a full-time sponsor, hopefully we turned some eyes."

It was Kahne's first Nationwide victory since Bristol in 2007 while driving for Ray Evernham.

weather issue: A small rain shower caused a seven-car accident during Nationwide qualifying Friday afternoon. NASCAR canceled the final two sessions, setting the field by speeds. Dakoda Armstrong won his first pole in 23 starts.

driving hurt: Jeffrey Earnhardt needed a relief driver after starting with a broken collarbone. He was injured this week when he crashed his motorcycle. He started the race but said he'd exit the car if needed for precautionary reasons. Earnhardt said he didn't want to risk further damage that would lengthen the healing process. Matt DiBenedetto replaced him on Lap 53 during the first pit stops under caution. Earnhardt's grandfather, the late Dale Earnhardt, is believed to have broken his collarbone at least twice during his NASCAR career. He missed four races in his 1979 rookie season with the injury but missed no time in 1996 when he again broke it.

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