CONCORD NC -- After an early season struggling with a new team, Kasey Kahne scored his first victory for Hendrick Motorsports Sunday with a dominating performance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
After starting seventh, Kahne was running inside the top five at the start of NASCAR's longest race. On lap 280 he finally wrested the lead from Greg Biffle, who looked strong at the outset. From there Kahne was able to take control with his only real challenges coming from Biffle, and later Denny Hamlin as the laps wound down.
The victory came on Kahne's 300th career start and marked the first win for Kahne since he began racing for Hendrick Motorsports at the start of this season. While Kahne cruised to the victory Sunday, his Hendrick Motorsports teammates struggled.
Jimmie Johnson who at one time dominated the races at Charlotte, won last weeks All-Star race and has called the track his home, never seemed to find the right combination of speed to make a charge towards the front. A rare pit miscue on lap 354, the fuel can did not come unhooked as Johnson left after a green flag pit stop, gave him a stop and go penalty. Johnson finished 11 a lap down.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., who won last Saturday nights Showdown handily, brought the same car but never seemed to have enough speed to contend. His crew did gamble and left Earnhardt out during pit stops on lap 320, while the other top ten runners came in; it was a move that gave Earnhardt decent track position but not a winning move as Earnhardt was able to hold on to only sixth.
After weeks of bad luck, Jeff Gordon was able to finish inside the top ten. Gordon finished seventh, his first top ten since Texas in April and his third of the season.
The win for Kahne was career win number 13 and his fourth at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Hamlin came home second, Kyle Busch third, with Biffle with Brad Keselowski rounding out the top five.
Behind Earnhardt and Gordon in sixth and seventh, Kevin Harvick was eighth, Carl Edwards ninth and Matt Kenseth tenth.
The race was the quickest running in 53 years for the Coca-Cola 600, the time of 3 hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds beat the 1995 running of the race which was 3 hours, 56 minutes 55 seconds.
Biffle remained atop the points with a ten point lead over Kenseth who remained second.
The series heads to Dover International Speedway next Sunday.