Kasey Kahne overcame a lengthy weather delay, overtime, a second attempt at an overtime restart after a massive crash, an approaching sunset and the rest of the field to win one of the most unforgettable Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400s in recent memory.
Kahne prevailed Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway more than six hours after the green flag started the event to capture his first win of the season. NASCAR ruled he reached the overtime line before the caution for a crash behind him, which officially clinched the win.
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Kahne's win was his first since August 2014, when he triumphed in Atlanta. Dale Earnhardt Jr. reacted to the No. 5 car snapping his streak of 102 straight Cup races without a win:
Dale Earnhardt Jr. @DaleJr
Hell yes @kaseykahne Damn that boy/team needed that!!!2017-7-24 00:55:08
Kahne won't soon forget Sunday's victory, as ESPN Stats & Info also noted the 14 cautions marked a record for the Brickyard 400.
While Kahne won and Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five, the race was most notable for the chaos and number of crashes. The significant setbacks started on Lap 111 when a restart shaped the tone for the closing stretch.
Kyle Busch won the first two stages and was battling Martin Truex Jr. for the lead when they slammed into each other and were both knocked out of the picture. Neither was willing to budge in the battle within the battle, and NASCAR as well as NASCAR on NBC highlighted the critical moment:
Take another look at the contact between @KyleBusch and @MartinTruex_Jr. #Brickyard400 #NASCARonNBC https://t.co/Xi9TrshZH62017-7-23 22:57:55
NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC
🔥🔥🔥 @MartinTruex_Jr is out as is @KyleBusch at @IMS! #NASCARonNBC #Brickyard400 https://t.co/83tMyYuEtt2017-7-23 22:57:27
With Busch's otherwise dominant day over, Kenseth took the lead for 21 laps before relinquishing it to Keselowski. However, a crash involving Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray with 10 laps remaining changed things again, as NASCAR on NBC shared:
NASCAR on NBC @NASCARonNBC
.@KurtBusch's day ended in an instant at @IMS. Here's what Kurt's wreck looked like from the Helmet Cam. #NASCARonNBC #Brickyard400 https://t.co/Wybqbnl7vL2017-7-23 23:44:38
From there, Kyle Larson hit the wall, causing his car to catch fire and creating yet another late restart. Jimmie Johnson then attempted to go under Kahne and Keselowski right at the end of regulation but lost control, as NASCAR captured:
That was WILD. #Brickyard400 https://t.co/iHPDOS8FfE2017-7-24 00:18:00
That led to overtime, where Kahne ultimately prevailed on the second attempt despite the disorder behind him.
The head-turning finish took away from Kyle Busch, who appeared to be cruising to victory and a third-straight Brickyard 400 title. He won the pole position during Saturday's qualifying and maintained the lead through the entire 50 laps of Stage 1. He also won the second stage before his dramatic crash with Truex.
"I just got loose and wrecked him,” Truex said, per Dustin Long of NBC Sports. "It was totally my fault."
Elsewhere, the chaos wasn't limited to the stretch run. Chase Elliott suffered engine failure in the first stage, David Ragan's car underwent significant damage after hitting the wall in the first few laps of Stage 2 and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. crashed in the final stage.
The most notable early trouble came for Earnhardt, who made contact with another car on a restart in the second stage and caused enough damage to end his final Brickyard 400 before retirement.
It wasn't the sendoff he was looking for in Indianapolis, but the crowd showed its appreciation for the racing legend after the incident:
Ride along with @DaleJr for that contact at @IMS. #Brickyard400 https://t.co/HpJT1tmIVi2017-7-23 22:13:54
Earnhardt, Kahne and the rest of the field will now turn their attention to the Overton's 400 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania after Sunday's wreck-filled marathon.