In a race that has been filled with strategy plays, Kasey Kahne holds the point at the halfway mark of today’s Brickyard 400 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Kahne took the lead off a restart at Lap 73, and is ahead of Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano.
Pole sitter Harvick narrowly led the first lap but Gordon took the lead going into Turn 1 from his fellow Chevy driver.
In clean air, Gordon quickly grew the lead to more than four seconds before a competition caution came out at Lap 20 so teams could check tire wear on a green surface after overnight rains.
Logano chose to stay out on the track, but the rest of the leaders decided to pit. Gordon won the race off of pit road with a two-tire stop, but Logano took over the lead.
Other strategy plays ensued in these stops as well, with Jimmie Johnson going fuel-only and Harvick choosing to take four tires instead of two.
Logano took the inside line for the restart at Lap 26 and kept the point, while Gordon struggled to get going and bottled up the outside line. He eventually settled down in fourth behind Logano, Kahne, and Johnson, while those farther back jostled aggressively for positions.
Also losing out on the restart was Brad Keselowski, who was pinned behind Gordon when he spun his wheels and dropped all the way back to ninth as a result.
Kahne eventually got past Logano in Turn 3 for the point at Lap 32, and a few turns later, Logano came in for his first stop under green. That started a wave of green-flag stops featuring Kahne coming in from the lead at Lap 38, which handed the lead to rookie Kyle Larson.
Larson would hold the lead until Lap 43, when he and Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray hit the pits together. The lead shuffled to Austin Dillon and then to Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin, who pitted under the competition caution, was able to stretch his fuel load to Lap 56 before he finally went in for his second stop. That completed the cycle and put Harvick back atop the pylon by less than half a second over Gordon.
Gordon was able to pass Harvick for the lead just before they pitted together on Lap 66. Two laps later, the first caution of the day came out when Danica Patrick slowed to a stop coming off pit road with a reported broken axle.
Patrick would eventually get the car going again, but not before NASCAR opted to throw the yellow (she eventually went back to the garage for repairs). A good chunk of cars decided to pit at this point, including Tony Stewart, Dillon, McMurray, and more.
But Hamlin kept to his fuel strategy and stayed out to maintain the lead ahead of Harvick, Kahne, Gordon, and Busch. However, Hamlin was jumped on the Lap 73 restart by both Kahne and Busch, and then Harvick dropped him to fourth by the time they came back around to the Yard of Bricks.