BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kasey Kahne missed the wrecks, NASCAR missed a call and ESPN2 missed the finish.
It was another wild night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kahne came out on top of a late-race four-way battle for the lead and edged Jason Leffler for the win in Friday night’s Food City 250 for his second NASCAR Busch Series of the season and first at the track.
“I can’t believe we won at Bristol,” said Kahne, who earlier Friday won the pole for Saturday’s night’s Nextel Cup Series race at the track.
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“It was an awesome battle with Jason Leffler and Ryan Newman. Jason ran me clean at the end.
“It’s so hard to win at this place. The track is so crazy with how many lines there are and how much racing room there is. It’s wide open and you go wherever you can.”
With eight of 250 laps remaining, Kahne and Newman spent several laps racing side-by-side, then after they made contact, Newman’s car slipped up the track and into the wall.
Just as the Kahne was fending off challenges by Leffler and David Reutimann, ESPN2’s satellite feed went dead with three of 250 laps remaining and viewers missed the finish. The network rejoined the broadcast with Kahne celebrating his victory. The network then replayed the final laps.
NASCAR’s miscue had far more lasting damage.
Kyle Busch, who was running second at the time and had one of the fastest cars on the track, pitted under caution with 50 laps remaining, but NASCAR claimed Busch had made a commitment-line violation entering pit road.
Busch and his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, argued the call, but to no avail. NASCAR made Busch restart at the rear of the field on the restart.
Later in the race, after TV replays of the pit stop clearly showed no violation, NASCAR officials admitted their mistake. But they took no corrective action on the track.
Busch, who ran as low as 25th after his penalty, rallied to finish fourth.
“It was a mistake on somebody’s part,” said Busch.
“If they would have taken the time, they could have taken as many caution laps as they wanted to make sure it was right and set the situation straight.
“They didn’t want to review it. We were going green, so I had to go to the back so nobody got upset.”
The race was stopped for nearly nine minutes with 77 laps remaining for an oil cleanup after Marcos Ambrose spun and was hit by Robert Richardson. The race was slowed 11 times by caution covering 57 laps.