Snapping a 102-race winless streak in the Cup Series, Kahne qualified for the playoffs with his first victory since September 2014 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“To win at this track is unreal,” Kahne told NBC. “I’m exhausted. An unbelievable win; the team just kept working.”
After complaining of severe cramping on his radio late in the race, Kahne was treated in the infield care center after his 18th career victory in 488 starts.
Keselowski, trying to give Roger Penske his first NASCAR win at Indy, finished second after leading on the final restart of a race that featured a record 14 caution flags. Keselowski had seized the lead on the previous restart from Kahne, who also chose the outside.
Kahne took the lead when most of the field pitted during a Lap 151 caution (Kahne made his final stop just before the yellow flag flew). He fended off a three-wide challenge by Keselowski and teammate Jimmie Johnson on a Lap 159 restart (which resulted in Johnson hitting the wall, apparently when the engine began expiring in his No. 48 Chevrolet).
The race, which started at 2:44 p.m. and was delayed by rain for one hour and 47 minutes, ended just before 9 p.m. There were two red flags in the last 17 laps — one after the race had gone into overtime. Those two stoppages lasted 44 minutes.
Kahne, who has a contract for 2018 but whose future hasn’t been confirmed by the team, was the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to finish the race, outlasting teammates Johnson (27th, crash), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (36th, crash) and Chase Elliott (39th, engine).
Kahne’s win was a record 10th at Indy for Hendrick (five by Jeff Gordon, four by Jimmie Johnson).
The race’s complexion was altered significantly when the two fastest cars were eliminated in a crash with 50 laps remaining in the scheduled distance.
Truex’s No. 78 Toyota bobbled entering the first turn, sliding up the track into the left rear of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota.
“I just got loose and wrecked him,” Truex said. “Totally my fault. Didn’t really know what to expect in that position and didn’t really realize that he was going to drive in that deep and suck me around. I will take the blame for that and obviously it was my fault. I hate it for Kyle. He had a great car and we did as well, but that’s racing.”
Said Busch: “That’s the way it goes, just chalk it up to another one that we figure out how to lose these things by. It’s very frustrating and I hate it for my guys, they build such fast Toyota Camrys and the Skittles Camry was really good again today. Had wanted to go out there and put ourselves in the record books for three in a row, but not happening.”
The last driver to win three consecutive races at Indianapolis was seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher, who won four straight from 2003-06 on the track’s road course.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Busch
STAGE 2 WINNER: Busch
WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Ryan Newman finished third, his second top five in four races. … Joey Logano (fourth) scored his first top five in more than a month. … Daniel Suarez (seventh) scored back to back top 10s for the second time in his career. … JTG Daugherty Racing put both of its cars in the top 10 for the first time (Chris Buescher ninth, AJ Allmendinger 10th). … Matt DiBenedetto (eighth) earned his first top 10 since the Daytona 500.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Erik Jones crashed out of his second consecutive race (after leading 10 laps). … Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch were involved in wicked hits in the same wreck.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “We had a top 10 car for sure. It’s kind of frustrating because I was really enjoying being out there. Hopefully our luck’s going to turnaround. It’s been pretty tough and this is a difficult one to put up with.” – Earnhardt, who finished 36th in his final start at Indianapolis
WHAT’S NEXT: The Overton’s 400 at 3 p.m. ET, Sunday, July 30 on NBCSN at Pocono Raceway.