|Published:||Apr 16, 2012 12:52 AM EDT|
|Updated:||Apr 16, 2012 6:31 AM EDT|
ROCKINGHAM, N.C. (AP) - Kasey Kahne celebrated NASCAR's return to Rockingham Speedway with a victory Sunday in the Truck Series race.
The track was purchased at auction by Andy Hillenburg, and he successfully brought NASCAR back. The truck race was the first NASCAR-sanctioned event at The Rock since 2004.
"As soon as I heard about it, I was trying to figure out who I would race for and how I would make it here," Kahne said. "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."
Kahne held off Turner Motorsports teammate James Buescher for the win. Kahne had to start at the back of the field because he didn't qualify the truck Saturday while at the Sprint Cup race in Texas. It was the fourth win in five career Truck Series races for Kahne, who finished seventh in the Cup race Saturday night.
"I got about 4 1/2 hours of sleep last night and that was plenty," Kahne said. "Coming to The Rock, I was so excited that I woke up early. My alarm was supposed to go off at 9 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."
Kahne took the lead from Crafton with 46 laps remaining and led the rest of the way.
Matt Crafton was third, followed by Johnny Sauter and series points leader Timothy Peters.
Pole winner Nelson Piquet Jr. had a dominant truck, leading three times for 107 laps, but a pit road speeding penalty during the final caution period cost him a chance at victory. He ended up seventh.
Kahne finished second to Matt Kenseth in February 2004 in the last NASCAR race at Rockingham. Rockingham hosted Cup and Nationwide races from 1965 to 2004. The track was near capacity Sunday for its first truck race.
"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."