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Kahne Gets Victory, Gordon The Blues At Pocono

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 4 2013

Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne finished second and first respectively at Pocono on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kasey Kahne passed Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the lead after a restart with two laps to go and  took the checkered flag at Pocono Raceway in the GoBowling.com 400.

The victory was the 16th of Kahne’s Sprint Cup career. More importantly, it was the second of his season and moved him to eighth place in points.

“We needed this one to get in the Chase,” Kahne said. “We really did. It feels really good.Gordon finished second. He had the lead on a restart with two to go but Kahne was able to make the pass near Turn 1 after the race went green.”

Gordon was left shaking his head.

“I lost that one for us,” Gordon said to his team afterward. “Sorry guys.”

Kurt Busch of Furniture Row Racing was third.

Stewart Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman, last weekend’s winner at the Brickyard, was fourth while Dale Earnhardt Jr. of Hendrick Motorsports was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle.

Jimmie Johnson, the series points leader and the pole-sitter on Sunday, blew a tire after leading 43 laps and clipped the wall. He fought back and finished 13th.

Kahne took control after a restart on lap 108 of the 160-lap race, but two laps later Danica Patrick lost control of her car, spun and took out Travis Kvapil, Jeff Burton and Paul Menard.

The field was bunched for a restart on Lap 116, but that was merely a momentary setback for Kahne, who pulled away from Kurt Busch to a lead of 4.851 seconds by Lap 125. The driver of the No. 5 Chevy extended his advantage through a cycle of green-flag stops and was more than seven seconds ahead of Gordon when NASCAR called the eighth caution on Lap 149 because of debris in Turn 2.

Gordon surged ahead of Kahne after the restart on Lap 153, but a caution on Lap 156 for Matt Kenseth’s spin in the Tunnel Turn bunched the field again and gave Kahne a chance for to get the victory with two laps left.

Kahne made the winning pass to the outside of Gordon through Turn 1 and cleared his teammate near the entry to the Tunnel Turn at the 2.5-mile triangular track.

“On that final restart, I spun my tires a little bit and he (Gordon) got a great jump, and Kurt pushed me all the way to Turn 1, which really helped,” Kahne said. “I had one opportunity to either go for it and make it work or not. As good as our (car) was all day long, I thought we could make that work on the outside.

“I just needed to clear him, and when we got to Turn 2, I was able to do that. It was a great race. We had a really fast car. (Crew chief) Kenny (Francis) called an awesome race, and the whole pit crew did a perfect job… We needed this one to get in the Chase—we were able to get it, and it feels really good.”

Gordon saw his shot at getting his first victory of the season pre-empted by the late caution, had the blues after the race.

“It’s funny how our emotions to go up and down in this sport,” Gordon said. “Before the race, if you told me that I’d finish second, I’d say that was a great birthday gift. But when you’re leading, and take the lead from Kasey (Kahne) the way we did you know, on that restart, I thought we had him. He was better than us but I thought getting out in front I could hold him off. I got a perfect restart that last one and probably jumped him a little bit and I moved up front of him and it looked like I needed to block the inside. I tried to protect the inside and he got out the outside and flat outdrove me through (Turn) 1. I’m disappointed that we didn’t get this win.”

By finishing third, Kurt Busch improved his chances of making the Chase with his Colorado-based, one-car team.

He is currently in 13th place, 11 points out of 10th, which would guarantee him a spot in the 10-race playoffs for the Sprint Cup championship. Busch came into the race in 14th place and 13 points out of 10th.

“It was a championship-effort-type of day,” said Busch, who was celebrating his 35th birthday Sunday. “We ran up front and put ourselves in position to win. It’s exciting for us because we are in this mix of trying to race our way into the Chase.

“There’s a number of teams within striking distance of making the Chase. It’s very competitive out there and you have to do it with top-five finishes like this. No one is going to back into the Chase, you’re going to have to earn it.”

The result was Busch’s fifth top-five and ninth top-10 of the season – both team season records for the team.

Results of Sunday’s GoBowling.com Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway:

1. (18) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 160, $208500.

2. (22) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 160, $199221.

3. (5) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 160, $153930.

4. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 160, $161343.

5. (25) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 160, $125385.

6. (11) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 160, $152351.

7. (6) Joey Logano, Ford, 160, $121593.

8. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 160, $132568.

9. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 160, $129910.

10. (7) Greg Biffle, Ford, 160, $101535.

11. (3) Carl Edwards, Ford, 160, $120685.

12. (8) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 160, $111674.

13. (1) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 160, $141596.

14. (16) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 160, $120143.

15. (26) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 160, $113985.

16. (12) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 160, $106530.

17. (14) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 160, $123171.

18. (28) Mark Martin, Toyota, 160, $92685.

19. (33) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 160, $105393.

20. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 160, $117046.

21. (30) David Ragan, Ford, 160, $102718.

22. (24) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 160, $113201.

23. (32) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 160, $92018.

24. (29) Casey Mears, Ford, 160, $97293.

25. (36) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 160, $77860.

26. (23) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 160, $94607.

27. (41) Timmy Hill #, Ford, 158, $78285.

28. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 157, $103849.

29. (38) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 157, $73485.

30. (31) David Stremme, Toyota, 151, $77335.

31. (35) David Reutimann, Toyota, 141, $73185.

32. (21) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 127, $103001.

33. (15) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Brakes, 122, $80810.

34. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr. #, Ford, 113, $120946.

35. (34) Danica Patrick #, Chevrolet, Accident, 110, $72460.

36. (13) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, Accident, 109, $80210.

37. (39) Joe Nemechek(i), Toyota, Accident, 55, $72028.

38. (43) Tony Raines(i), Chevrolet, Brakes, 53, $67050.

39. (37) David Gilliland, Ford, Accident, 51, $63050.

40. (27) Michael McDowell, Ford, Brakes, 44, $59050.

41. (40) Josh Wise(i), Ford, Brakes, 44, $55050.

42. (42) Alex Kennedy, Toyota, Vibration, 22, $51050.

43. (9) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, Accident, 14, $67350.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 129.009 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 06 Mins, 02 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.392 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 9 for 35 laps.

Lead Changes: 27 among 14 drivers.

Lap Leaders: J. Johnson 1-33; B. Keselowski 34; Kurt Busch 35-41; J. Gordon 42; D. Earnhardt Jr. 43-44; M. Kenseth 45; J. McMurray 46; J. Johnson 47-53; B. Keselowski 54-57; K. Kahne 58-70; R. Newman 71-72; J. Johnson 73-75; T. Stewart 76-78; K. Kahne 79-82; B. Keselowski 83-88; K. Kahne 89; B. Keselowski 90-91; K. Kahne 92-95; B. Keselowski 96; M. Truex Jr. 97-103; K. Kahne 104-129; Kurt Busch 130-131; A. Almirola 132; D. Blaney 133-135; D. Ragan 136; K. Kahne 137-152; J. Gordon 153-158; K. Kahne 159-160.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Kahne 7 times for 66 laps; J. Johnson 3 times for 43 laps; B. Keselowski 5 times for 14 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 9 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 7 laps; J. Gordon 2 times for 7 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 3 laps; D. Blaney 1 time for 3 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 1 time for 2 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 2 laps; A. Almirola 1 time for 1 lap; D. Ragan 1 time for 1 lap; J. McMurray 1 time for 1 lap; M. Kenseth 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: J. Johnson – 772; C. Bowyer – 695; C. Edwards – 688; K. Harvick – 675; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 656; Kyle Busch – 646; M. Kenseth – 638; K. Kahne – 612; J. Gordon – 602; G. Biffle – 599; T. Stewart – 594; B. Keselowski – 592.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 4 2013
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