The NASCAR Oral-B USA 500 ran tonight at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne took the checkered flag, with Matt Kenseth right behind him in second place, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Carl Edwards round out the top five drivers. Tony Stewart, who desperately needed a win in his first race back after his sprit car accident that killed 20-year old driver Kevin Ward Jr., crashed, hitting the wall hard in turn two of the 172nd lap. Danica Patrick finished in sixth place. You can see the complete list of drivers finishing the Oral-B USA 500 here.
Tony Stewart had run as close to the lead as third. Stewart has one more chance to take the checkered flag next week. Without a victory, Stewart cannot qualify for the Chase for the Cup grid.
On his way back to pit row, with pieces falling off what was left of his car, a remorseful-sounding Tony Stewart told his crew, “I’m sorry guys, you deserve better.”
Danica Patrick had raced her way from being a lap down — with a little help from the lucky dog position — up to fourth place during the caution following the Tony Stewart wreck. It didn’t take Patrick long to find her way back to the middle of the pack, despite the fact that Danica needs a trip to Victory Lane to have any chance to qualify for the Chase for the Cup herself. Patrick would stay in the middle of the pack before making a run late in the race. She finished in sixth place.
Kevin Harvick came out strong from the pole, leading for much of the NASCAR Oral-B USA 500. By the 209th lap, he had opened up more than a four second lead over then-second place driver Brad Keselowski before a caution for debris on the track wiped that lead out.
As late as lap 294, several drivers who were still looking for their first Sprint Cup win of the season were still on the lead lap. These included Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, Paul Menard, Brian Vickers, Greg Biffle, Danica Patrick, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. Of course, none of those drivers were near the lead, which was being fought over by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin. Kenseth, who will likely make it to the Chase for the Cup on points as long as he has reasonably decent finishes for the last two races, was running fifth at the time.
Keselowski hit Josh Wise with 28 laps to go, taking major damage, after which the lead lap was down to 17 drivers. Kasey Kahne quickly took the lead at the restart with 26 laps remaining before caution was called on lap 324, causing the race to be extended. Kenseth took the lead off the restart. The finish came down to a horse race between Kahne and Kenseth — both winless coming into tonight’s race — with Kasey Kahne narrowly edging Matt Kenseth to take the checkered flag.
Tonight’s win ensures Kasey Kahne a spot in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup.