How the race was won
Kahne Kasey Kahne started from the pole and never lost sight of the front. He was one of six drivers to lead a significant number of laps on Monday, and he reassumed the lead from Greg Biffle with about 80 laps to go and essentially never looked back. Mark Martin challenged late, but Kahne negotiated lapped traffic and survived Martin's challenge, eventually pulling away for the win.
Story of the race
To some degree, tires – though we're not talking about the serious issues that plagued Cup racing at times last season. It was normal wear and tear encountered during relatively long green flag runs. All part of the game.
Also, Dodge. Outside of Kahne, the manufacturer was thoroughly dominated on Monday yet still managed to come away with four of the top 11 finishers.
Oh, and the race didn't actually happen until Monday. In case someone didn't notice.
And, obviously, Bill Lester. More on him below.
Give 'em credit
Kahne and Co., especially considering how strong the Roush Fords and Chevy as a whole were.
The veterans. Some of Nextel Cup's most established and successful drivers put on a clinic for much of the day, with Martin, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, among others, either leading laps or working their way to the front. Fun to watch.
Finally, Lester. Kudos for the accomplishment and everything that it means, but also for acknowledging the potential impact he is having. He has said he just wants to be a racer, but he admits that for better or worse, there's more at stake. He's not trying to blaze any trail, but he does realize some might follow. Seems like the right approach.
What were they thinking?
Carl Edwards was going for three in a row. Instead he went home with a 40th-place finish. He apologized for his collision with Dave Blaney on pit road. Edwards still is on the verge of superstardom and is immensely talented, but he still seems to be put in position to apologize just a little too often.
Also, Sorenson running down one of Robby Gordon's crew members. Not necessarily anyone's fault, and really, it's surprising it doesn't happen more often. Are bigger pit stalls the answer? If so, the tracks need to take action. If not, crew chiefs, spotters drivers and crew members need to be far more careful.
Better luck next time
Bobby Labonte. Leading early then collecting a DNF. Brutal.
Jeff Green. He was in the mix for a top-10 before a loose lug nut relegated him to a mediocre finish.
Kenseth. He seemed en route to another podium finish before being forced to pit late. Still, nice recovery to finish 13th.
How frustrated do you think Biffle was after his late fade? So much went right for that team last year, but they aren't quite catching the breaks right now.
And of course, Robby Gordon. Man, the guy deserved a top-five on Monday. At least he very soon won't have to sweat out qualifying anymore.
By the way ...
Wait, there was no green-white-checkered finish? Really? Maybe the rain had something to do with it.
Wait, there was no full cycle of green flag pit stops? Really? What's the tally, one in four races? Amazing.
Grading the race
It certainly is strange to start a race on a Monday morning, but this one was entertaining. Drivers made (and lost) plenty of ground during the many green flag runs, and a bunch of different cars appeared to be the one to beat at various times throughout the race. Handling, tire and fuel issues late in the day added intrigue, frustration and unpredictability. There was no memorable finish, and there weren't all that many spectacular passes, but there really wasn't anything terribly wrong with the race, either. Nice way to start the week. Grade: B
From the source
Kasey Kahne: "To beat those type of racers [Tony Stewart and Mark Martin] in my two Nextel Cup wins is huge."
Carl Edwards, in a commercial, on Mark Martin: "Crazy old man."
Bill Lester: "I represented myself. I'm doing this for myself. I'm glad people in the minority community are taking note of what I'm doing, but I drive for Bill Lester."