BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kasey Kahne’s bumper-banging battle with Brad Keselowski was just the warm-up act in an action-packed race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano exchanged words after the race — in person and on Twitter — because Hamlin spun Logano as Logano was racing for the lead.
A flat tire knocked Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth out of the race while they were running 1-2.
Typical Bristol, right?
It looked that way as Kahne and Keselowski staged a spectacular battle for the lead, only for a caution to put them side-by-side for a restart with 39 laps to go.
Keselowski had an issue, he either spun his tires or the Hamlin-Logano feud disrupted his start, and Kahne sailed away for his first career victory at Bristol.
“Feels really good to win at this place,” Kahne said. “Such a tough track over the years. This is a big race for me. When you race in the Sprint Cup Series, Bristol is a race you want to win.”
Tempers flared after the race when Logano leaned inside Hamlin’s window to complain about Hamlin spinning him as he tried to pass Gordon for the lead.
Logano was pulled away from Hamlin’s car by crew members for both drivers in a classic post-Bristol clash that delighted the crowd. “They’re fighting! It’s Bristol!” yelled Clint Bowyer, who saw the action on the infield big screen.
Logano wouldn’t discuss what he told Hamlin, but indicated there’s no love lost between the former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.
“That’s a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11 car — probably the worst teammate I’ve ever had,” Logano said. “I have a scorecard and I’m not putting up with that. What goes around, comes around. I had to put up with him for years, so whatever.”
Hamlin shrugged it all off.
“He said he was coming for me,” Hamlin said. “I usually don’t see him, so it’s usually not a factor.”
The two sparred briefly on Twitter after the season-opening Daytona 500, when Hamlin complained Logano ruined the closing laps of the race. But he said Sunday’s flap was not a carryover.
“It didn’t have anything to do with that,” Hamlin said. “You’ve really got to control your car and he slipped up into me. Really, he would have been in the garage with no radiator in it if I had not checked up twice. I meant to run into him. I didn’t mean to spin him out, but his day was fine. We finished bad and he finished bad. It’s even.”
But they continued sniping at each other after the race on Twitter, overshadowing what was undoubtedly the best race to date for NASCAR’s new Gen-6 race car.
And their feuding may have played a role in the outcome of the race, too.
Keselowski was the leader on the final restart as he lined up next to Kahne. Hamlin was lined up behind Keselowski, with Logano lined up behind Hamlin. When the flag waved, Keselowski didn’t go and Kahne rocketed to the lead and never looked back.
Brown takes Top Fuel
Exactly one month after a fiery crash in the NHRA season opener, Antron Brown picked up a victory at the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Brown used the fastest pass of the day to edge Clay Millican in the Top Fuel final. It could be a huge turning point for the defending Top Fuel champion, who endured a scary wreck at Pomona on Feb. 17 and was eliminated in the semifinals two weeks ago at Phoenix.
His win was his 22nd in Top Fuel and gave Don Schumacher Racing its 200th career victory. Only John Force Racing has more wins (218) in NHRA history.
Johnny Gray beat Del Worsham to win the Funny Car division. Allen Johnson won the Pro Stock class, and Hector Arana Jr. won the Pro Stock Motorcycle division.
Raikkonen wins F1 opener
Kimi Raikkonen won Formula One’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia, jumpstarting Lotus’ bid to challenge the series’ bigger teams for the 2013 championship.
Raikkonen managed to pull off a two-stop strategy while his six nearest rivals all needed three, taking the lead for good on lap 43 of 58 in a race that had seven different leaders. The Finn became the 15th driver in F1 history to earn 20 grand prix wins.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari was second, while pole sitter and three-time reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was third in his Red Bull, forced to pit after just seven laps due to worn super-soft tires.