Nobody passed more cars in Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway and no one at the end of the race was faster than Kasey Kahne. But that still wasn't enough to get Kahne his second win of the year, and the Hendrick Motorsports driver instead finished a distant second to race winner Brad Keselowski.
But entering the weekend 17th in points and too far behind to climb into the top 10, Kahne knows he needs another victory if he is to make the Chase. That is why, despite the very respectable finish that many others would gladly take, Kahne couldn't help but feel like he let one get away.
"Yeah, top-five is good, probably not going to get us in the Chase," Kahne said after the race. "We need to win a race or two more to make the Chase."
This feeling is compounded by the fact that if it weren't for two pit-road issues, it likely would have been Kahne celebrating in Victory Lane instead of Keselowski. A loose right-front wheel necessitated a unscheduled green-flag pit stop and put Kahne a lap down to the leaders early in the race, and a slow pit stop later put him further behind.
"The pit crew is really good at times and they're solid," Kahne said. "We've got to keep working on it and got to be a little stronger throughout. But my car was fast. And I think the longer the run went, the better we seemed to get."
In spite of the many hurdles he had to overcome, there was Kahne in the closing laps, running down the leaders and in contention. He passed a total of 98 cars under the green flag – the most of anyone (Kurt Busch was second with 87).
But even as he was doing so, though, the reality was the only way the No. 5 Chevrolet was going to end the night in the winner's circle was if something happened to Keselowski.
"I just hoped he'd run out of gas," Kahne said. "There was no way I was catching him. We had enough gas to run as hard as I could all the way to the finish, and I was hoping his would shut off, off of (Turn) 2 or something."
Alas, Lady Luck wasn't with Kahne and all he was left to do was wonder what if.
"Like I said, my pit crew is solid," Kahne said. "They're a really good group of guys that work as hard as anyone, probably harder than everyone or most. We just had a couple of bad stops. The runs we're going and things, I'm sure losing a ton of time on pit road, you'll never catch up."