Kahne — who finished seventh in the Sprint Cup Series on Saturday and third in the Nationwide Series on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway — surged to the front in the 155th lap of 200 to notch his fourth win in five starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
James Buescher finished second with Matt Crafton third and Johnny Sauter fourth. Timothy Peters jumped into the series’ points lead with a combination of a fifth-place finish and an early wreck for teammate John King, the Daytona winner who led the points coming in.
Brad Sweet qualified the No. 4 truck fifth, but Kahne had to start at the rear of the field because of the driver change. Even with traveling from Fort Worth overnight, getting approximately 4 1/2 hours of sleep and having no track time in preparation for the race, Kahne was poised to pounce in the late stages.
“This is probably the best weekend I’ve had in a long time,” Kahne said. “I got out of that truck and I’ve got three clean race cars and I ran three hard races this weekend, and everything’s clean — not a dent on ’em. . . . It was a good weekend, tons of energy, and I’ll sleep good tonight when I finally decide to go to bed.”
Kahne played a prominent part in NASCAR’s last race here, when Matt Kenseth edged him at the line for a Sprint Cup Series victory. The memory of that race was on his mind when he returned to the mile oval.
“I’ve watched it on video and I can run it through my head and remember so many things about how that race finished,” Kahne said. “Those are kind of the memories that I have.”
Until now. Kahne withstood Buescher’s last-ditch effort on a restart with 20 laps left and had nowhere near as close a finish as last time around. Kahne was a comfortable 1.478 seconds ahead at the checkered flag.
Pole-starter Nelson Piquet Jr. — Kahne’s next-closest competition — dominated the early stages of the race, leading 85 of the race’s first 100 laps. But Piquet became mired in traffic after a lengthy pit stop shuffled him back to fifth during the third of the race’s four cautions.
He worked his way back to second place until incurring a pit-road speeding penalty during the final caution period. He rallied to finish seventh.
John King’s grasp on the series’ points lead fizzled early in the race, when he spun and nosed into the inside wall on the backstretch on Lap 4 to bring out the race’s first caution. King returned to the track after repairs, but wound up completing 56 laps and finishing 33rd, dropping him seven spots to eighth in the standings.