CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kasey Kahne was frustrated he'd blown his championship chances with a "hardheaded mistake" at New Hampshire, and it boiled over into a brief televised interview that left viewers speculating about his health.
Kahne said Tuesday there was nothing physically wrong with him following his accident at New Hampshire. Rather, he realized immediately after his crash with 47 laps remaining Sunday that his title hopes were over, and he allowed his anger to derail the now widely discussed interview with ESPN reporter Jerry Punch.
"I screwed up and I was frustrated. Two races in, I'm already out of the Chase. It's a (crummy) deal," Kahne told The Associated Press.
Fans watching Kahne's post-crash interview on television immediately took to social media to say Kahne appeared dazed, confused and some speculated he had a concussion. Punch tried to ask Kahne what happened to cause the crash, and Kahne said, "I don't know. I'm not sure what happened."
Punch tried again, and Kahne didn't offer any more insight. After a third question from Punch, Kahne told him he couldn't hear him and the interview came to an awkward end.
"I couldn't hear what he was saying," Kahne said Tuesday. "I knew he asked what had happened. At that point, I didn't know exactly what had happened. I knew we were three-wide getting into Turn 3. Did we have a little contact, and that's why we spun? I wasn't positive on that. But I was really just mad, and I didn't think too much of (the interview) until I saw people thought something was wrong with me."
Kahne's health was just fine, he said, and he'd already been medically cleared by the care center. He returned to his car with 25 laps remaining in the race, but the damage was done: Kahne had been running eighth at the time of the accident, which occurred when he was stubbornly racing Brian Vickers for position on a restart, and he wound up 37th. It dropped him to last in the 13-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field.
"I just screwed up. I was under him and we were really close together and racing hard and you can lose grip pretty easy off of (Turn) 4, and I maybe should have just backed up a little bit," Kahne said. "But I was trying to stay beside him to be there when we got to the next corner. I needed to just give up and get in line and try to pass him later. I didn't want to give up that one spot, and I ended up giving up 30 spots because I was hardheaded and made a hardheaded mistake."
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