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Kasey Kahne steals the show in thrilling, chaotic Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis

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Indianapolis – Rain or shine, part failure or wreck, chaotic driving or the best Indy has seen, Kasey Kahne emerged victorious in a dramatic Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“To win at this track is unreal,” Kahne said. “We used to always be really close. We lost to Jeff [Gordon] and we lost to Tony [Stewart]; just some fast cars back then. Today’s strategy got us here.”

“It feels good to win, you know? 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.”

Following Kahne were Brad Keselowski second, Ryan Newman third, Joey Logano fourth and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top 5. Sixth was Kevin Harvick, seventh Daniel Suarez, eighth Matt DiBenedetto, Chris Buescher ninth and A.J. Allmendinger rounded out the top-10.

A record 14 cautions set the tone for this race, which lasted almost four hours and featured three red flags.

But before all that, it appeared it was going to be the same old Brickyard 400 in summer Indiana weather. Busch, as he has the last two years, took the lead and created leads that grew as much as four seconds at one point.

A rain shower passed over the track just 10 laps into the race and created a red flag of more than an hour and a half.

Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney dominated the first half of the race, finishing in the top three respectively in the first two stages.

Everything changed with 50 laps to go when Busch, who led the first 71 laps, and Truex wrecked on a restart going into Turn 1. The end result was a fiery crash and uncertainty about who was going to come out on top.

And uncertainty it was. The final stage turned into what most thought would be a fuel mileage race as many back markers pitted just before the race resumed.

Kenseth was arguably the strongest car remaining, as he held off Harvick and maintained a lead until he had to pit. After that, Keselowski emerged the leader until he had to pit, leaving Trevor Bayne as the first driver trying to make it on fuel.

Then it all changed again with 11 laps to go. In a reaction to the cars in front of him, Clint Bowyer got loose off Turn 4, spun down in front of Erik Jones and suffered two hard hits, one with the inside wall and one with teammate Kurt Busch.

NASCAR threw the red flag to ensure the race could end under green.

Cars then pitted for fresh tires, and Kahne and Newman stayed out on decently new tires. He didn’t have to hold anyone off long, however. With five laps remaining, Kyle Larson got clipped by Blaney running down the frontstretch, hit the outside wall and caught on fire.

On the restart with two laps to go, Kahne and Keselowski restarted side-by-side and held it halfway around the track. Then Jimmie Johnson, whose engine was blowing up, caught up and went inside for a three-wide race for the lead in what might have been the most exciting part of the race. Johnson got loose in Turn 3 under the other two and backed it into the outside wall.

Johnson’s daring move sent the race into overtime…major overtime.

On the restart, the front row drivers spun their tires, causing the field to bunch up. Bayne, who remained up front thanks to his strategy, was turned at the yard of bricks and collected several drivers, forcing another red flag.

The bad restart gave Keselowski the lead, and thus, control of the restart. But that didn’t bother Kahne. On the restart, Kahne got a great run and took Keselowski double wide in Turn 1. Kahne emerged from the corner as the leader.

“Well, the [restart] before just didn’t work,” Kahne said. “Everything went wrong. On the final one, everything went right. And once I got to Turn 1, I had good power and was able to clear him off [Turn] 1. I’m exhausted. And, it’s pretty crazy.”

Kahne cleared the No. 2 down the backstretch, and another caution off Turn 2 forced NASCAR to throw the yellow flag after Kahne hit the overtime line, giving him the victory in what many consider NASCAR’s second biggest race.

Zach Horrall is a NASCAR reporter for the Indiana Sports Report and is recognized as an accredited member of the media by NASCAR and has full media access. Follow @ZHorrallBU and the @IndySportsRep on Twitter.

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