Daytona Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Kasey Kahne won a Nationwide Series race for the first time in seven years after beating Regan Smith to the finish line by only 0.020 seconds in Friday's Subway Firecracker 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
The start of the Nationwide race at Daytona was delayed 90 minutes due to rain. It ended in a green-white-checkered finish. Kahne was running in seventh for the final restart with two laps to go but worked his way through the pack with pushing help from Ryan Sieg.
Coming out of the last turn on the final lap, Kyle Larson moved out of line while battling Smith for the lead and therefore forced Kahne up the track. But Kahne used the top lane to pull ahead of Smith as they approached the line. Smith and Larson were running in the lower lane.
"I knew I did [win the race], but a little bit before the line I wasn't sure," said Kahne, who led only the final lap. "The last push, the last time Ryan [Sieg] hit me really boosted me past the 7 [Smith], so I felt good about it at that point."
Kahne, the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet and Smith's teammate at JR Motorsports, claimed his eighth career Nationwide victory but his first since August 2007 at Bristol.
"It was a fun race," Kahne said. "I just could not get up there, but once I did, I was fast enough."
Smith had won the Nationwide season-opener at Daytona in February -- by a margin of 0.013 seconds over Brad Keselowski -- and was attempting to score a season-sweep here. He led the most laps in this race with 47.
"I watched the replay, and I blocked [Larson's] move, but I think if I went up any higher [on the track], we probably would have all wrecked right there," Smith said. "I don't know how to do it different. I'll have to study the tape and see where I messed up. I had a pretty good gap, but at that point, you can't use the throttle or the brake. I lost just enough momentum that it didn't work out. But it's a teammate over there [in victory lane], so that's pretty cool."
JR Motorsports, though, did get a season-sweep at Daytona as well as a 1-2 finish in this race. The team is co-owned by Sprint Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, and Sprint Cup team owner Rick Hendrick.
Sieg finished third, and Ryan Reed placed fourth. Larson settled for fifth.
Joey Logano, Darrell Wallace Jr., Jeremy Clements, Trevor Bayne and Mike Wallace completed the top-10.
With the exception of one caution for debris on lap 52, this race ran incident free until lap 94 when Brendan Gaughan spun and hit the wall exiting turn 4 after he had made slight contact with Mike Wallace. It forced the second caution.
During the restart on lap 98, rookie Chase Elliott could not get up to speed, as he was running low on fuel. It caused a multi-car pileup in back of him. Elliott Sadler, who entered this race as the points leader, David Ragan, J.J. Yeley and Bayne spun out on the frontstretch. It set up the two-lap overtime finish.
Smith's second-place run allowed him to reclaim the points lead. He holds a 12-point advantage over Sadler, who ended up finishing 21st.
Elliott is 15 points out of the lead following his 20th-place finish.