Kasey Kahne’s strong run at Bristol Motor Speedway ended in heartbreak, after a mechanical issue overcame the No. 95 WRL General Contractors Camaro ZL1.
Leavine Family Racing (LFR) was fast the entire weekend, running Top-10 speeds in the first practice, and barely missed the final round of qualifying to earn a 15th place starting position.
Saturday brought even more of an impressive performance, as Kahne was 5th fastest in the second practice session, finishing the final session in the Top-10, as well.
The Food City 500 was moved up one hour due to incoming weather but was still delayed almost 30 minutes. The field went green only three laps before a tangle-up in front of Kahne saw a few cars knocked out. Kahne reported his No. 95 WRL Camaro ZL1 was a bit loose handling, but overall fine to drive.
Kahne restarted 13th as the field went back to green on lap nine. Eight laps later, another caution came out for a spin behind Kahne, but caused him to get nose damage from a car checking up hard in front of him. Kahne told the crew his car felt fine, but that he had hit the car pretty hard ahead of him. Crew Chief, Travis Mack, made the call to stay out in order to not lose track position.
By lap 37, rain had begun to fall, causing the race to be red-flagged for a time. Kahne told the team he felt extremely competitive but was just dealing with a loose-handling car. As the track was re-dried, Kahne pitted when the yellow flag came back out to tape up the nose of the car and get four tires and fuel.
Kahne restarted 13th on lap 60 before another caution for a spin happened in front of him. On the restart, Kahne made it as high as 8th, before settling back into the 10th position. The biggest wreck of the day happened with only eight laps remaining in the stage and Mack made the call to pit for tires and fuel. The field ran only one lap to end the stage, with Kahne finishing 17th.
The call paid off, as Kahne started the second stage from the 11th position. The first caution of the stage came out on lap 154. Kahne reported he was on the free side, as he pitted for four tires and fuel. The field only made it a few laps before being red-flagged for rain, once again.
When the track was once again dry, Kahne restarted 14th with 83 laps remaining in the stage, making it as high as 11th, before the field was red-flagged for good, postponing the race until Monday.
Kahne began the race Monday with a pit stop under caution for four tires and fuel and gained two spots to restart the Food City 500 in ninth. Ten laps after restarting, Kahne reported he had no power steering and was forced to make an unscheduled stop. The team was unable to fix the car on pit road and brought it into the garage to look closer at the issue.
Though the team went multiple laps down, they worked rigorously to fix the No. 95 WRL Camaro ZL1. Kahne was finally able to go back out on lap 375 but was still unable to steer the car, forcing LFR to be done for the day.
“It’s unfortunate after how good we were all weekend,” said Crew Chief, Travis Mack. “This car was good enough to win under the right circumstances. We didn’t want Kasey to stay out there and risk wrecking someone or even put himself in danger. We will learn and move on to Richmond.”
LFR PR/Photo Robert Laberge/Getty Images