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Fan Favorite Kasey Kahne Wins All-Star Race

An Opinion

May 18, 2008

By Ron Felix

CIA Stock Photo
Kasey Kahne Celebrates With Burnout
100 laps, One million dollars.

Kasey Kahne won the Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway on Saturday night after he was voted into the race by the fans. Kahne finished fifth in the All-Star Showdown, the qualifying race before the main event, and only the top two drivers transferred to the All-Star race.

But a third driver was added to the big show by a vote of the fans. Kahne was headed to his home to watch the All-Star race when he was informed that he had won the fan vote and would also transfer. Kahne was forced to start at the rear of the field and through the four race segments -- and with the help of a final pit stop when the team called for no fresh tires,

“That’s what we had to do; it was our only shot at winning the race," said Kahne. "I knew that the longer the runs went, the better our Budweiser Dodge got. I thought we were getting better and some other cars were getting worse. We did that (stop and go pit) and came out in second. Denny Hamlin got a great start and we had to battle a little bit and get back out front.”

Kahne took the lead with only 16 laps remaining. Kahne faced a stiff challenge from Greg Biffle, who had taken two tires to start the fourth and final segment, but was able to hold Biffle off and then coasted to his first ever All-Star race victory.

Kahne became the first fan favorite driver to win an All-Star race, and it was the first victory for Dodge in the prestigious contest. By winning the Saturday night race, Kahne earned a ten year exemption into the race. Kahne also became only the third transfer driver to win the big race..

On top of all that, Kahne will travel to Iowa to run the race at Iowa Speedway on Sunday.

Pole sitter Kyle Busch looked like he was going to be a run-away winner. Busch was pulling away from the field when the first of four segments ended but ran into trouble with engine problems half-way into the second segment. The crew attempted to repair the engine at half-time but to no avail. Teammate Denny Hamlin also had an engine expire later in the race, he was also leading when the engine went south.

Biffle held on for second place and teammate Matt Kenseth was third.

“I’m just happy to run that good, said Kenseth. "For us it was almost like a test and it was a good morale booster, I think, for the team and a big confidence booster. We haven’t really been running very good this year and when we have run good, we’ve had a lot of problems."

Jimmie Johnson finished fourth with fifth place Tony Stewart in tow. Stewart was a bit worried because both his teammates had engine troubles.

“We had problems yesterday and that’s what got us in the situation," said Stewart. "We didn’t have the problem that they had, but we had it first yesterday. Unfortunately it was one of those deals tonight where it was just like pulling a pin on a grenade -- didn’t know when it was going to go off for those guys. It was experimental stuff and tonight’s the night to try that stuff. When it comes time to run 600 miles next week, we can do it."

Ryan Newman placed sixth followed by rookie Sam Hornish Jr., Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin and Carl Edwards to round out the top ten. Edwards looked to be the heir-apparent when Busch dropped out of the race but he lost the handle on his Roush Fenway Ford in segment three.

“I thought we were the car to beat," Edwards said. "I thought we were gonna be great there (in the second half). I was already thinking about what I was gonna do with all the money, having a good time, but something with that last set of tires on that last run, it was just off. I couldn’t go any faster. That’s that -- That’s racing."

Hornish is the first Raybestos Rookie to score a top-10 finish in the Sprint All-Star Race since Kasey Kahne finished seventh in 2004.

"We had a really good car. I thought we had a car that was capable of running in the top-10 here," Hornish said of his comeback in the showdown race. "Once we got out there running I think we had one that was capable of winning. I went down into that turn and I was right behind the 42 car. He’d been running the bottom and he moved up and it was either me go up in the marbles and try to keep from crashing or run over him. I did what I thought was the right thing to do and I had to move up a little bit and I got in the marbles and got the back end which drug the front. Then we get the flat tire and go two laps down and it was a struggle the whole day but we had a really good car."

Saturday night was the final race for Dale Jarrett. Jarrett had driven in his final points paying race at Bristol in March and this was the last race of his career. Jarrett wrapped up a career 668 races, 32 victories, 260 top-ten, 163 top-five finishes and one Winston Cup championship.

“It’s over – we’ve done it," said Jarrett as he climbed from the No. 44 UPS machine. "It’s been great and I wouldn’t do anything different. It feels great.”

The Sprint Cup Series returns to action on Sunday, May 25th at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600. That race is scheduled to start at 5:00 PM / Eastern Time on Fox.

For All-Star Showdown final race results...     (Insider Racing News)
For All-Star final race results...     (Insider Racing News)

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The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.

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