Promising, but so unfortunately short.
A day after having a victory taken away from him because of a caution flag just ahead of the finish line in the Nationwide Series Aaron’s 312, Kahne got caught up in the “big one” in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499.
In fewer than 24 hours, he went from a guy with a beef to wearing regret.
“I felt like I had a really fast Time Warner Cable Chevrolet,” he said.
Fast, but short. His Sunday ended on lap 42.
Kahne had been running third, behind Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, for stretches when the field entered turn 1. He attempted to go high and pass Johnson and wound up right in front of Kyle Busch.
Busch’s car hooked Kahne’s, touching off a 16-car spinfest, with the last cars settling to a stop in front of the Allison Grandstand on the backstretch.
“I just kind of got shot through the center there, just a lot of momentum coming from behind,” Kahne said. “I felt the No. 18 (Busch) pushing me, and next thing I know, I was spinning.”
Kahne’s No. 5 car turned up into the retaining wall, and cars collected behind him and Busch. As Kahne emerged from the infield care center, he said he and Busch did not talk.
“I think we both probably understand what happened and we will figure it out from there,” Kahne said.
He said the main culprit was the new Gen-6 car, and Busch didn’t help.
“You just can’t push with these cars,” Kahne said. “We learned that at Daytona, he was pushing me and spun me in the wall and then happened again, so that is what it is.”
Kahne wasn’t the only driver drawn in. Besides him and Busch, the wreck also sucked in Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr., Brian Vickers, Jamie McMurray, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, David Stremme, Kurt Busch, David Reutimann, Casey Mears and Scott Speed.
Some avoided the mess, notably Danica Patrick. Most didn’t have a chance.
“I just saw them wrecking above me,” Biffle said. “I thought about going to the left. I had plenty of room and probably should have, but I didn’t.
“I just stayed straight and moved down all I could, and it wasn’t enough. They got me in the right-rear and turned me the wrong way up into the wall, a pretty hard hit, but that’s all you can do is hang on when stuff like that happens.”
Biffle wasn’t surprised that such a big wreck would happen so early in the race. It’s Talladega, after all.
“It can happen at any time,” he said. “You just never know. We were trying to be cautious, but that didn’t work.”
No one knows more than Kahne about how wrecks can happen any time at Talladega. He crossed the finish line first in a three-car photo finish with Joey Logano and Regan Smith in Saturday’s Nationwide races, but caution came out before he could pull ahead in the front stretch.
A pileup developed right behind the leaders, causing NASCAR’s quick caution call. The caution froze the field with Smith in the lead, and Smith got the victory.
Kahne expressed surprise that the caution call came so quickly causing the race to end in the final quarter of a mile, but that’s how his weekend went. He came up short.
Sports Columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576. On Twitter @jmedley_star.