Toyota driver Kasey Kahne earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports in Saturday night’s 200-mile race at South Carolina’s Darlington Raceway.
The win also marked the Enumclaw, Wash.-native’s first win in a Tundra and third in the NCWTS in four starts.
Kahne led 95 (of 147) laps en route to victory lane.
Tundra drivers Todd Bodine (third), Timothy Peters (sixth) and David Starr (10th) earned top-10 finishes in tonight’s race at the 1.366 egg-shaped race track.
Justin Lofton (13th), Travis Kvapil (17th), Max Papis (18th), Craig Goess (19th), Dusty Davis (21st), Brendan Gaughan (25th), Miguel Paludo (27th), Tayler Malsam (29th), Johanna Long (31st) and Justin Johnson (35th) were also in the field.
Seven Toyota drivers are currently in the top-15 in the unofficial NCWTS points after three of 25 races — Peters (third), Bodine (seventh), Papis (ninth), Paludo (12th), Starr (13th), Goess (14th) and Lofton (15th).
KASEY KAHNE, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports Finishing Position: 1st Was winning the only goal for this weekend? “I came here this weekend wanting to win — that was the plan. This is a tough series. These guys do an awesome job and that restart there with Todd (Bodine) — our truck was really good once I could get rolling. He tried to get me all the way up to the wall and I think he got himself loose by trying to squish me into the wall. We had a good run down the back and some good laps after that. It was a solid run. I have to thank Kyle Busch for letting me drive this thing and this whole team. The guys do such a good job and it was a lot of fun driving for them and working with Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and Rick Ren (general manager) and all the guys. Everybody at Toyota, Flexico, Team ASE, M&M’s, Triad, Camping World, all the fans — what a great crowd here tonight at Darlington. This is one of my favorite race tracks and I’m really glad I came.”
How was your race tonight? “The crowd here was great tonight. It was a lot of fun to race in front of such a good crowd. I love Darlington — this is an awesome race track. This Toyota Tundra was really fast all night long. Just to be in the right spot at the right time and keeping that track position. This whole team on pit road did an awesome job. We had the track position all night and just holding off Todd (Bodine) and everybody else behind him, it was quite the battle there. It was a great run.”
How tough was the battle on the final restart? “I actually had a little more off of two — it was in the middle of one and two up by the wall, I was rubbing the right side with the top of our truck. We had just enough room that we were able to hold on and get down the backstretch better than anyone else and just kind of drive off from there.”
Is this win redemption from finishing second at Pocono when you raced for Kyle Busch Motorsports? “This was a big win for myself and I’m just glad that I got to drive for Kyle Busch Motorsports again. We ran second so we had to come back and win it this time and we did. We had a great day all day long.” What happened on the final restart? “I actually spun the tires a little and I short-shifted to third and that gave Todd (Bodine) just a little bit of a run on me there, so I gave him back that inside. From there I just had to stay in it and keep the momentum off of turn two. We were able to do that and kind of drive away after that. It was close through one and two. It was a good finish there. This is a great race track, great race team and I’m glad I was able to come here this off weekend and have a lot of fun driving the truck.” ERIC PHILLIPS, crew chief, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports How much confidence did you have with Kasey Kahne driving for you tonight? “We knew Kasey (Kahne) could get the job done. We came really close at Pocono last year when he drove. We came the same way we do every week or when Kyle’s (Busch, team owner) in the truck. This truck is one that Kyle won four races in last year and Kasey run second. The guys did a great job preparing the truck — they do every week. They had good pit stops tonight and we had a solid race.”
ERIC PHILLIPS, crew chief, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports (continued) Who is easier to deal with in truck races — Kasey Kahne or Kyle Busch? “They’re both. Kasey (Kahne) is obviously no problem. He’s great to work with. I have no issues with Kyle (Busch, team owner). Everybody asks me that, every week and I think every time I meet somebody new. I can’t tell you when Kyle has ever said a cross word to me on the radio, in person