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Kasey Kahne Gets a New Ride

Leavine Family Racing has signed Kasey Kahne to drive its No. 95 Chevrolet in the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Kahne is presently wrapping up his sixth and final season with Hendrick Motorsports, and qualified for the 2017 playoffs as the No. 13 seed. He’ll replace Michael McDowell, who did not qualify for the post-season and has a best finish of fourth at Daytona International Speedway in his 27 starts this year.

“I’ll work as hard as possible to help them continue improving,” said Kahne. “I’m ready for this challenge and look forward to making a fresh start.”

“We look at this as an opportunity to go to the next level,” said team owner Bob Leavine. “This deals partially with performance because Kasey is a playoff-caliber driver. He has a wealth of information being with a larger organization like Hendrick Motorsports and we think that will help us. We also look at this as an opportunity for marketing, to be able to sell sponsorship.”

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Kasey Kahne Wins Brickyard 400

Kasey Kahne parlayed a well-timed pit stop and a masterful overtime restart to claim victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ending a 102-race winless streak dating back to the 2014 season.  Kahne steered his Number-5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet onto pit road for service late in the final stage and it paid dividends a short time later when a four-car crash along the frontstretch produced one of the day’s track-record fourteen cautions.  When others pitted under yellow, Kahne advanced to the front with his new-found track position that made him a player down the stretch.  His decisive restart came after two late cautions sent the race seven laps past its scheduled distance.  Kahne lined up on the inside of Brad Keselowski and drove hard into the first turn, digging in on the low side of the track and charging into the lead he would not relinquish.  As Kahne stretched the advantage over Keselowski, a three-car incident behind him produced yet one more yellow flag.  Kahne had already passed the overtime line on the backstretch, which made his victory official.  Keselowski finished second with Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth completing the top five.  Before Sunday, Kahne’s last Monster Energy Series win came at Atlanta Motor Speedway in August 2014 … Pole winner Kyle Busch was seeking an unprecedented third straight Brickyard 400 win but was sidelined by an accident on a restart early in the final stage.  He was side-by-side at the front of the field with Martin Truex Junior, who wiggled and then slid into Busch’s car – taking both drivers out of the race.

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Recap of Last Year’s All Star Race

Denny Hamlin ended the thirty-first edition of NASCAR’s Sprint All-Star Race exactly where he started it – at the front of the field. Hamlin, who qualified on the pole earlier in the evening, pulled away from Kevin Harvick in the final ten-lap segment to claim victory in the annual non-points special event and take home the one million-dollar prize for first place. Harvick finished second with Kurt Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth completing the top five. A lightning-fast ten-point-four-second pit stop for four tires put Hamlin at the front of the field for the final restart and he remained there over the last ten laps … Kasey Kahne won the first of the night’s four twenty-five-lap segments. Brad Keselowski won the next two legs with Busch winning Segment-4. Jamie McMurray, bidding to become just the third driver with back-to-back victories in the thirty-one-year history of the event, placed sixteenth … Keselowski won two of the first three segments and led a race-high forty-nine laps. But he was caught speeding on pit road during the final round of stops that forced him to the back of the field and out of contention … Hamlin’s final margin of victory was slightly less than one second over Harvick. The race included just seven lead changes among four drivers: Hamlin, Kahne, Keselowski and Busch … Clint Bowyer, who earned his way into the race by winning the Sprint Showdown, finished twelfth in the main event. Greg Biffle, who won the first segment of Friday’s “Showdown” and qualified on the front row for the All-Star Race, had three pit-road speeding penalties and placed thirteenth.

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Carl Edwards Wins at Richmond

Carl Edwards nudged race leader … and teammate … Kyle Busch out of the way on the final lap of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway – driving on to his second straight victory and giving Joe Gibbs Racing a sweep of the first three short-track races of the season. Busch had passed Edwards for what would be his final lead of the day less than forty laps from the finish, but Edwards remained in dogged pursuit as the checkered flag neared. In the third turn of the final trip around the three-quarter-mile Fairgrounds oval, Edwards closed on Busch and tapped the rear bumper of the Number-18 Toyota just enough to send it up the track and into second place. The margin of victory was sixty-seven one-hundredths of a second with Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and pole-sitter Kevin Harvick completing the top five. The victory carried Edwards to the top of the regular-season standings with one-fourth of the 2016 season now complete. Harvick entered the weekend holding the Number-1 spot but is now second, seven points behind Edwards heading into the next race next weekend at Talladega Superspeedway … Tony Stewart made his first start of the season after recovering from back surgery in February. He finished nineteenth in the forty-car field … Edwards started fourth on Sunday and led a race-high 151 laps in the Number-19 Toyota, notching his twenty-seventh career victory and second at Richmond. His first win there came in September 2013 … Joe Gibbs Racing now has eleven Cup Series victories at R-I-R, breaking a tie with Hendrick Motorsports for second place on the track’s all-time win list. Richard Petty Motorsports has fifteen but none since 1975.

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Recap of Last Year’s Duck Commander 500

Jimmie Johnson led a quartet of Hendrick Motorsports cars with top-ten finishes, winning his second consecutive race on the mile-and-a-half Texas Motor Speedway oval. Johnson led a race-high 128 laps, including the final fourteen – beating runner-up Kevin Harvick to the checkered flag by one-point-one seconds. The three other Hendrick drivers finished third … that was Dale Earnhardt Junior, seventh … for Jeff Gordon, and eighth … Kasey Kahne. Johnson became the first driver with back-to-back Cup Series victories in “The Lone Star State” since Denny Hamlin swept both races in 2010. Joey Logano finished fourth with Brad Keselowski completing the top five. Pole sitter Kurt Busch led twice for forty-five laps and finished fourteenth, one of twenty-five drivers running on the lead lap with Johnson at the finish … Johnson’s Number-48 Chevrolet was steady and strong throughout the race, but it was a four-tire pit stop on the final caution that helped him eventually chase down Jamie McMurray to grab his ninth – and final – lead of the night that set the stage for victory.

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NASCAR Penalties

Danica Patrick of Stewart-Haas Racing has been fined twenty thousand dollars and placed on probation for the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races as a result of her actions last weekend at Auto Club Speedway. After contact from Kasey Kahne sent her into the wall and out of the Auto Club 400, Patrick walked onto the apron of the track and gestured at Kahne as he passed by – which drew a “Behavioral” penalty from the sanctioning body. Patrick is currently twenty-ninth in the point standings through the first five races of the season with a best finish of nineteenth at Phoenix International Raceway … Kyle Busch drew a ten thousand-dollar penalty and was placed on probation for four races after skipping post-race media obligations last Saturday following his second-place finish (to Austin Dillon) in the X-FINITY Series race at Auto Club Speedway … NASCAR also issued written warnings to six Sprint Cup Series teams for a variety of rule infractions. The list of drivers whose teams were affected includes rookie Ryan Blaney of Wood Brothers Racing, Austin Dillon and Paul Menard from Richard Childress Racing, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing, and Michael McDowell from Circle Sport-Leavine (la-VINE) Family Racing. Kenseth’s Number-20 J-G-R team received two written warnings, both for pre-qualifying violations. Of that group, Edwards had the best finish in the Auto Club 400 – seventh place.

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Kevin Harvick Wins the Good Sam 500

Kevin Harvick survived a full-contact side-by-side duel with Carl Edwards on the final lap Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, claiming his first victory of the season in a photo finish. Harvick led the field on the day’s final restart and pulled away before a fast-closing Edwards reeled him in and tapped the rear bumper of Harvick’s Number-4 Chevrolet entering Turn-4 on the final lap. Edwards pulled alongside and leaned hard on Harvick as they exited the corner. Edwards and Harvick bumped again as they took the checkered flag with Harvick nosing ahead at the finish. The official margin of victory was a mere one one-hundredths of a second – identical to Denny Hamlin’s dramatic win over Martin Truex Junior in last month’s season-opening Daytona 500. Harvick dominated the second half of Sunday’s race, leading all but eleven of the final 150 laps including the last seventy-nine trips around the one-mile desert oval. Hamlin finished third and pole sitter Kyle Busch was fourth after leading seventy-five laps. With Edwards’ runner-up showing, Joe Gibbs Racing grabbed three of the top four spots. Dale Earnhardt Junior completed the top five … In its third race, NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package produced just seven lead changes among four drivers: Busch, Earnhardt, Edwards and Harvick. Sunday’s race included five cautions for thirty laps … Kasey Kahne’s late-race accident in Turn-3 brought out the day’s final yellow flag which extended the race one lap past its scheduled distance.

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Recap of Last Year’s Good Sam 500

Kevin Harvick shredded the field, notching his fourth straight victory on the Arizona oval. He started from the pole and led a race-high 224 laps, including the final seventeen. Harvick pulled away from Jamie McMurray on the final restart and cruised to his thirtieth career victory. McMurray finished second, a little more than one second behind at the checkered flag. Ryan Newman placed third with Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch completing the top five. The race included just eight lead changes among four drivers: Harvick, McMurray, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano. Harvick’s four-race winning streak at P-I-R began in November 2013. He swept both races in 2014 before winning again in March 2015 … It was the first start of the season for Busch, one of Harvick’s teammates at Stewart-Haas Racing. He sat out the first three races while serving a NASCAR suspension. Busch came away from the weekend with a top-five finish after qualifying eighth … Keselowski led fifty-two laps en route to a sixth-place finish. Logano started on the front row alongside Harvick and placed eighth. He led thirty-five laps, including the first twenty-five.

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NASCAR Heads to Vegas – Sprint Cup

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Vegas for Sunday’s Kobalt 400, third race of the 2016 Sprint Cup Series and the second weekend for NASCAR’s new low-downforce rules package. Teams had a pair of practice sessions on Thursday with Jimmie Johnson posting the fastest overall speed of 192.981 miles per hour. Aric Almirola, Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Matt Kenseth completed the top five. Joey Logano had the fastest average speed over ten consecutive laps, 187.604 miles per hour. Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, failed to crack the top ten in either of Thursday’s two sessions. In last year’s Kobalt 400, Harvick started eighteenth and finished first. Jeff Gordon started first and finished eighteenth … Hamlin hit the wall during Thursday afternoon’s test session. His Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing team will use a back-up Toyota this weekend. Teams will get ninety more minutes of practice today before qualifying late this afternoon. Kasey Kahne has the track record for poles with three, one ahead of Kyle Busch – who’s the only Cup Series driver to win a race in Vegas after starting from the pole position. That victory came in 2009 … Johnson leads all drivers with four wins at L-V-M-S, including a run of three straight from 2005 through 2007. He’s coming off his seventy-sixth career win last weekend in Atlanta, which tied the late Dale Earnhardt for seventh place on NASCAR’s all-time list. The last driver with back-to-back wins in the Sprint Cup Series is Logano, who put three victories in a row together during last year’s post-season Chase.

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