Kasey Kahne snatched the lead from Matt Crafton with 46 laps remaining in Sunday's inaugural Good Sam Roadside Assistance 200 presented by Cheerwine at Rockingham Speedway and led the rest of the way to win his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race in five career starts.
Second went to Turner Motorsports teammate James Buescher, who finished 1.478 seconds behind Kahne, who had flown in from Texas less than 12 hours earlier where he had placed seventh in the Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
"I got about 4 ½ hours of sleep last night and that was plenty," said Kahne, who led only once in the 200-lap race at the 1-mile track. "Coming to The Rock, I was so excited that I woke up early. My alarm was supposed to go off at nine this morning and I woke up at 7:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I had tons of energy, but I'll sleep good tonight when I finally decide to go back to bed."
Brad Sweet practiced and qualified Kahne's Chevrolet fifth while the 32-year-old driver took care of his duties with Hendrick Motorsports in Texas. When Kahne stepped into his Chevrolet at Rockingham he had to go to the rear of the field. The same rule applied to David Reutimann, who took over the Chevrolet Sunday that was practiced and qualified by Chad McCumbee. Reutimann finished 19th after being rear ended by Bryan Silas and spinning off turn 2 on lap 121.
Kahne, like several drivers who raced at Rockingham before it closed after the 2004 Cup race, was excited when it was announced NASCAR would return to the historical track with the truck series in 2012.
"As soon as I heard about it, I was trying to figure out whom I would race for and how I would make it here," said Kahne, who averaged 107.239 mph in the race that was slowed by four caution flags for 25 laps. "There is a lot of people who put a big effort in to make this happen and Steve Turner was one of them, so it was pretty awesome to be able to do that and have an awesome truck like we had here today."
Pole winner Nelson Piquet Jr. had a dominant truck, leading three times for 107 laps, but a pit road speeding penalty during the race's final caution flag cost him a chance at victory. When the race returned to green-flag conditions with 20 laps remaining, Piquet found himself outside the top 10.
While the final pit stops proved to be Piquet's undoing, they provided Buescher with an opportunity at victory.
"We had an excellent last pit stop and that got us out in front of Matt (Crafton) and the (No.) 17 [Timothy Peters]," Buescher said. "That put us up on the front row for the last restart and gave us a chance to go for the win. We just didn't have enough clean air at the end and Kasey (Kahne) was able to pull away from us there."
Crafton, who led three times for 40 laps, finished third, while Johnny Sauter took fourth, both in Toyotas. Peters, also in a Toyota, assumed the point lead with his fifth-place finish.
"It's pretty good when you can come away and feel disappointed about a fifth-place finish," said Peters, who led once for seven laps in the race that had seven lead changes among four drivers. "We just got a little too loose there towards the end of the run."
Rockingham Speedway President Andy Hillenburg said he was "very proud of the day" in which the legendary track hosted a NASCAR race for the first time in eight years.
"Obviously, we will need a week or two to digest it because we don't really have any fancy systems here," said Hillenburg, a former driver. "I think it will take a week or two to even figure out what happened. We have a wonderful staff here and it is also a very small staff. As a promoter, I still want to go and do better, but I am very proud of our efforts. It was a team effort and I feel like we did the best that we could do based on the knowledge that we had. I also feel confident in saying that if I get a second chance from NASCAR, I can do even better."
The Rock PR