Parks Pit Report: Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400

Kasey Kahne kissed the bricks, but is hoping to keep his job at the end of the season.

This time of year in NASCAR is productive both on the track, and in the front office.  Teams are already deciding what they are going to do for the upcoming season, and in some cases beyond, for their driver lineup.  Some downsize, others add on, and some release drivers because of production.

In doing so, questions of drivers that are currently in their final year of their current deal begin to pour in from media members.

Sometimes those questions are avoided, but in other instances, it’s impossible.  When a team has not won for a prolonged period of time, it’s natural to question whether it’s the team, the driver, crew or something else that is causing the down luck.  But, what the questions become are not directed at the driver to ask “Are you going to be here next season,” but rather “what will it take to stay where you are?”

It’s unfair because the driver is not racing to stay with a team, but to win a race.

Entering Sunday, Kasey Kahne had not won a race in 102 weekends of action.  Also heading into the weekend, three of the four Hendrick Motorsports teams were solidified for 2018.  Chase Elliott already had his ride, Jimmie Johnson signed an extension weeks earlier, and now Alex Bowman got the nod to take over the No. 88 for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Kahne, however, is in the final year of his contract. There has been talk already of whether he was out, or coming back.  Plus, talk of what driver could take over has already been spoken.

In order to put some of the hot coals out from the banter, Kahne had to do something to get positive attention.  Certainly winning takes away some of that pressure.  Winning one of the marque races of the year almost eliminates it.  For Kahne, the latter sounded a lot better.

He accomplished that when he kissed the bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he won at the Brickyard.

Does it completely take away the talk of him leaving, no.  But, at least for a while, the attention will be on his victory rather than his future.  That certainly is something to smile about.

STAGE 1 WINNER:  Kyle Busch

STAGE 2 WINNER:  Kyle Busch

RESULTS:  1-Kahne  2-Keselowski  3-Newman  4-Logano  5-Kenseth  6-Harvick  7-Suarez  8-DiBenedetto  9-Buescher  10-Allmendinger

NOTABLE FINISHES:  17-Hamlin  21-Dillon  23-Blaney  27-Johnson  28-Larson  29-Kurt Busch  33-Truex Jr.

CAUTIONS:  14 for 55 laps.  Lap 11-17 (#23 Incident-T3 [Red Flag – Weather -1 Hr, 47 Mins, 3 Secs]); 32-34 (Competition); 52-55 (Stage 1 Conclusion); 58-63 (#7, 33, 38 Incident-T1); 72-75 (#7 Incident-T3); 77-80 (Fluid On Track From #88); 102-105 (Stage 2 Conclusion); 108-110 (#17, 48 Incident-BS); 112-119 (#78, 18 Incident-T1); 151-153 (#14, 41, 77, 1 Incident-FS  [Red Flag -20 mins, 20 Secs.]); 156-158 (#13, 42, 21 Incident-FS); 160-162 (#48 Incident-T3); 164-165 (#21, 6, 55, 43, 15, 11, 59, 3 Incident-FS [Red Flag – 24 Mins, 16 Secs]); 167 (11, 27, 13 Incident-BS).

LEAD CHANGES:  10 among 7 drivers.   Ky. Busch 1-71, Jones 72-80, Blaney 81-86, Ky. Busch 87-102, Truex Jr 103-110, Kenseth 111-131, Jones 132, Keselowski 133-151, Kahne 152-161, Keselowski 162-165, Kahne 166-167.

TIME OF RACE:  3 Hrs, 39 Mins

AVERAGE SPEED:  114.384 MPH

MARGIN OF VICTORY:  Under Caution

POINT STANDINGS (Points/Behind Leader [Playoff Points]):  1. Truex Jr, 780 [29]; 2. Larson, -48 [13]; 3. Harvick, -97 [8]; 4. Kyle Busch, -107 [7]; 5. Hamlin, -168 [7]; 6. Keselowski, -179 [13]; 7. McMurray, -181; 8. Elliott, -192 [2]; 9. Kenseth, -214 [2]; 10. Johnson, -216 [15]; 11. Bowyer, -247; 12. Blaney, -264 [8]; 13. Logano, -265 [1]*; 14. Kurt Busch, -317 [5]; 15. Newman, -318 [5]; 16. Stenhouse Jr, -337 [10]; 20. Kahne, -397 [5]; 21. Dillon, -401 [5].

*Win at Richmond is encumbered.  Does not count towards playoff seeding.

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