Oakley's Kahne Wins $1M
Sometimes it pays to be popular.
On Saturday night, it paid Kasey Kahne $1 million.
Voted into the Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway after he failed to make the field in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race, Kasey Kahne made the most of his opportunity by winning the All-Star event and the $1 million prize that goes with the victory.
Taking fuel only during his final pit stop between the third and fourth segments of the four-segment, 100-lap event, Kahne won the All-Star race for the first time. Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, the only Joe Gibbs Racing driver whose car survived the night.
The first driver ever to win the race after a fan vote entry, Kahne also gave Dodge its first victory in the event. After finishing fifth in the Sprint Showdown, from which only the top-two finishers transferred to the main event, he learned that the fans had voted him into the All-Star Race via balloting on the internet, by cell phone and in Sprint stores (read more).
"I would have loved to have raced my way in, but we have great fans, and it’s cool they voted for us and got us in the race," Kahne said. "We need all the fan support we can have. They’ve stuck behind us.
"I was going to head home, drink a couple of Budweisers and watch the All-Star race."
As it turned out, Kahne got to do a lot more than that, and he gave crew chief Kenny Francis his due for making the right call at the end.
"The car was mediocre in that open [Showdown]," Kahne said. "But we just kept fighting. I just can’t believe we won a million dollars. Kenny made the right call — no tires at the end. I didn’t think we needed them, either."
After a fuel-only pit stop between the third and final segments, Johnson led the field to a restart on Lap 76 but soon surrendered the top spot to Denny Hamlin. But Kahne took the lead for good off Turn 4 on Lap 84 when Hamlin’s engine expired.
From that point on, Kahne held off a determined charge from Biffle, who faded in the closing laps after challenging for the lead.
Soon after Kahne took the lead, Biffle powered his No. 16 Ford beside Kahne’s No. 9 Dodge but couldn’t wrest the top position from the race winner.
"I could have forced the issue," Biffle said. "I had one opportunity, and he kind of closed the door on me a little bit, and I figured, ‘No sense pressing it right now — I’ve got plenty of laps to go.‘
"Then it just got tighter and tighter as it went, and I never got a chance to get back at him again.
"I had good tires. I had taken two, and he hadn’t taken any. I can’t believe I got beat [by a car] with no [new] tires."