Kahne hopes to return for final 7 NASCAR races

Kahne hopes to return for final 7 NASCAR races

It cost him a shot at an eighth NASCAR championship and allowed Ryan Blaney to steal a surprise victory in the debut race of the "roval" at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Because he had blown the chicane, Johnson stopped on the frontstretch as mandated by NASCAR before continuing across the finish line.

The spin not only ended up knocking Johnson down to an eighth-place finish, but it also spun Truex, who was set to cross the start/finish line first.

Blaney said of Johnson's decision, "you make decisions every second behind a race vehicle". The tiebreaker sent Larson and Aric Almirola into the next round and Johnson on the outside of the championship battle looking in.

He began his first year with Penske with victory in one of Daytona's "Duel" qualifying races and dominated the Daytona 500 by leading the most laps of the race before crashing out due to a puncture.

"He (Jimmie Johnson) wasn't ever going to make it through that corner whether I was there or not", Truex said. "I got out of the chicane on the back straightaway better than he did and put some pressure on him. I thought I was making a calculated move and giving myself the chance to win".

"Unfortunately, down here through the bumps coming into that braking zone, I just locked up the rears and couldn't control my vehicle and spun. I think it's going to be fantastic for the whole sport". It's just one of those split-second decisions to race for the win instead of for the points and it bit me. The seven-time NASCAR Cup champion, who could have played it safe on that last lap and continued to the next round of the NASCAR playoffs, instead was eliminated. The right front suspension was damaged and the right front tire canted at an angle that made it all but impossible for Larson to turn left. As Larson approached the backstretch chicane, Jeffrey Earnhardt spun in the last corner, and his auto turned backwards and lost power. Larson's fate was also determined in the final few turns when he passed the stalled vehicle of Jeffery Earnhardt. Larson weaved through the chicane, into the outside wall again and crossed the line 25th one spot ahead of Earnhardt. Had he finished seventh, Johnson would have advanced by a single point. The two cars entered the final two turns, a chicane. "The fans are excited, and I think the drivers are excited, and we're excited". I could start to see him creep in when I was getting to 16.

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"But second round, hopefully it goes well, [they are] just good tracks for us. Hey, I was pretty lucky".

The two best cars actually belonged to Larson and Blaney's teammate Brad Keselowski.

He spun his No. 2 Team Penske Ford, a backup vehicle, in a Lap 49 dustup with Martin Truex Jr.'s Toyota in the frontstretch chicane. "There were some tracks in there that weren't very good for us", he said.

"I wanted there to be an opportunity to pass for the lead, for the win on that last lap", Smith said. But I really felt like I could pull that pass off. Johnson overdrove the corner locking up his tires and spinning; the back of Johnson's vehicle got into Truex taking both out of contention for the win.

"We were just in the right spot at the right time", Blaney said after the race.

"Richmond we've struggled at, and [at the Roval] you just didn't know what was going to happen".

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