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Kahne Takes Top Qualifying Spot At Atlanta

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, September 3 2011

Kasey Kahne drove to the pole for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

Kasey Kahne posted a fast lap at 186.196 mph to win the pole on Saturday for Sunday’s AdvoCare 500 Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The pole was the second of the season for Kahne, whose last victory in the Cup series was at Atlanta in September of 2009.

“It was definitely not a perfect lap, but it was a little better than what everyone else did,” Kahne said.

Qualifying second fastest was Richard Childress Racing’s Clint Bowyer, who is 11th in points. His lap was at 185.922 mph.

“It was an important qualifying run,” Bowyer said. “Obviously these next two weekends. We’re not out of this thing; we can’t give up on it. And a good qualifying run is a breath of fresh air for all of us. We’ve been struggling a little bit in the qualifying category. We’ve been hitting on some things at these bigger race tracks so I’m real proud of these guys on the Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet. She was loose; holy cow! It was a handful but it was a fun lap.”

Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing qualified third with a lap at 185.841 mph.

And a scary lap it was, he said.

“For Atlanta that’s what it’s all about,” Busch said, “how far can you scare yourself and still come back and see the flag.  Certainly, it’s exciting.  That’s what makes these laps so fast around here and so much fun.Brian Vickers, Kahne’s Red Bull Racing teammate, was fourth fastest with a lap at 185.772 mph.”

Fifth fastest was four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports.

“For when we went and the conditions, I thought that was a good lap time,” Gordon said. “It was a big pickup from yesterday. Just happy with the improvements we’ve been able to make and the performance we’ve been having lately. I feel like we have a really good race car.”

Filling out the top 10 were Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch.

Kahne has two victories at the high-banked, 1.5-mile quad-oval track. He is 15th in the Cup standings, and a win on Sunday night could him into the Wild Card chase in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

He calls AMS his favorite track.

“The first time I came here in 2003,” Kahne said, “I just felt like it was – I raced a majority of dirt growing up and to me it feels really similar to Eldora (Speedway in Ohio) at times when the track is real dry and all the way up to the fence at Eldora in a midget or sprint car – you kind of get some of those same similarities.  I’ve always just really liked it and always felt that way.

“I enjoy running right against the wall or right on the white line — whatever you have to do to get the speed out of your car and you can search here.  A lot of tracks you can’t search as much.  Whatever you have is what you have and this place, if you’re not perfect on the bottom then you can move up six feet and your car could be way better or you can move up to the wall and it be way better or way worse.  I just like being able to search – I like being able to look around and try to find the best spot on the race track.”

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, September 3 2011
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