Published July 15, 2012
| Sports Network
Loudon, NH – Kasey Kahne claimed his second win in the Sprint Cup Series this season by taking Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Kahne, in his first year as driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, took the lead after coming out of the pits first during a round of stops under caution with 66 laps remaining.
Denny Hamlin had dominated the race by leading 150 laps, but Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb had a miscommunication on their tire strategy during his last pit stop. After taking four new tires, he fell to 13th in the field. All the other front runners took just two.
Hamlin charged through the field and moved into the runner-up spot with less than 10 laps remaining, but on the second-to-last lap, Hamlin went way wide between turns three and four, which ultimately cost him the win.
"It was just a miscommunication," Hamlin admitted. "I told Darian that all I needed was tires and that was it. And he took it that I needed four tires. We still had a shot at the win, but I just didn't get past all the cars quick enough. I didn't have quite enough there at the end."
Kahne crossed the finish line 2.7 seconds ahead of Hamlin for his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, including his first at this 1.058-mile track.
"We ran in the top-five the whole race, but Denny obviously had the best car," Kahne said. "We just had to battle hard throughout the whole race. We did it. We had great pit strategy, got the track position and were able to lead those final laps there."
With the win, Kahne moved into first in the wild card rankings for the championship Chase. He is currently 12th in the point standings, but his two wins so far this year are more than any other driver presently outside the top-10. Kahne won the 600-mile race at Charlotte in May.
"I feel like we've been pretty tough all year," he said. "We just haven't finished them off a lot of the times, but we've been there all year long. Hopefully from here on out, we'll get some more top 10s and top fives in a row, and from here out, we need to stay after it. It doesn't get us in the Chase yet, but it definitely helps with a win today and the win in Charlotte. I can't wait for some of these other tracks coming up.
Seven races remain before the Chase begins on September 16 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Clint Bowyer finished third, followed by Kahne's Hendrick teammate, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Brad Keselowski, who won Saturday's 200-lap Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire.
"We passed a lot of cars after starting 22nd and driving to a top-five," Keselowski said. "I felt like if we had just a little bit more track position at the end, then we would have been a second or third-place car. It looked like Denny was really strong. Kasey was certainly as well."
All four Hendrick drivers finished in the top-10, with Jeff Gordon placing sixth and Jimmie Johnson taking the seventh spot. Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Ryan Newman, who won this race one year ago, completed the top-10.
Kyle Busch started on the pole and led the first 66 laps before he was penalized for speeding onto pit road and then had an issue with the replacement of his right-front tire during the stop. Busch had another pit mishap late in the race when he overshot his stall. He ended up finishing 16th.
Busch now holds the second spot in the wild card standings. His lone victory up to this point of the season came in April at Richmond.
The series is off next weekend before its next race on July 29 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.