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Kahne Wins Atlanta, Earns Berth In Chase

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 31 2014

Kasey Kahne claimed his place in the Sprint Cup playoffs on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)


Kasey Kahne, with an assist from Kyle Busch and Paul Menard, won Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway and locked himself into the upcoming Chase playoff.

The victory was Kahne’s first of the season and came with just two races to go before the start of the Chase.

“Yeah, man, it took a lot,” Kahne said. “We were all over the place during the race but the guys stayed with me and worked hard. On those restarts – I didn’t know what would happen because I had great restarts all night and I struggle with restarts a lot. That’s big, because that is one of the things you have to be good at and it worked really well tonight.”

The win was secured  by a couple of late-race tussles in involving other drivers.

The first occurred when Kyle Busch slammed Martin Truex Jr. from behind with two laps to go and Kevin Harvick running a distant second to Kahne.

The wreck cost Kahne his shot at an easy win and Truex wondering what was going on in Busch’s head.

“I couldn’t drive off the corners,” Truex said. “But we hung in there, fighting for every possible position until Kyle (Busch), for whatever reason, ran into the back of me, causing pretty good damage to our car. I passed him clean earlier and then he comes back and hits me from behind. It was totally uncalled for and hard to figure out why he did what he did.

“We were in the top-17 when that happened and had a chance of picking off a few more positions. Not sure why someone wants to go out and purposely wreck you when you’re racing for 17th. Doesn’t make any sense.”

Matt Kenseth stayed out during the ensuing caution and restarted P1 on the  green/white/checkered restart.

Shortly after the restart, Menard forced Kevin Harvick, who had dominated the race by leading 195 laps, into the wall and brought out forced a second green/white/checkered restart.

“You can’t control all the circumstances out there like tonight,” Harvick said. “It’s just unfortunate for everyone on our Jimmy John’s Chevy that everything went the way that it did, but what do you do? Everyone was on the gas at that point, and that’s kind of the nature of the beast, I guess. We had a hard time getting off pit road tonight ahead of the 11 (Hamlin) and the 20 (Kenseth). Those guys have been really good all year, and that’s one area we just need to fix some things.”

On that restart, Kahne, who restarted on P2 on the outside, stayed with Kenseth through the first several turns.

Kasey Kahne cleaned up at Atlanta. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

Kenseth wiggled on the final lap when running along side of Kahne and that sealed the finish.

“Did all we could,” Kenseth said. “Things are looking up.”

Kenseth finished second and secured a Chase berth based on points.

“I’d like to consistently have wins, that’s what I’d like to have,” Kenseth said when asked about being in the Chase. “The team has really been performing at a high level all year, really. I know when you look at the record books we have some crashes and some bad finishes and we don’t have a win yet, but I feel like our pit stops have been more consistent and faster than they were last year. I think our team has a lot of confidence, knock on wood, we haven’t had any kind of mechanical failures. I feel like the team is really ready, we just need a little more speed. I feel like we’re doing everything we can, we just need a little bit more to get over that hump and be standing over there in victory lane.”

Denny Hamlin finished third, Jimmie Johnson fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.

The final pre-Chase race is scheduled for next weekend at Richmond International Raceway. Thanks to a great night in Atlanta, it’s a race which Kahne will start sans pressure.

“Yeah,” Kahne said, “it was just an unbelievable way to make The Chase. And to win at Atlanta, it’s a tough track, a track that I love coming to. And so, it feels really good to get a victory here tonight.

“We had an up-and-down night. We started — I could barely get through the corner, I was loose. I fell back to about 22nd, I think.

“Then made some adjustments and got rolling. We got up to about 5th just by passing cars. So, I felt really good about the car. And then, we kind of dialed ourselves out again. Fell back. Went a lap down.

“Then came back again at the end. The last 60 laps, I felt really good. I was able to get that restart, get by Denny, and just could kind of pace. Myself and Harvick were pretty equal at that point in time, when I was in the front and had the clean air. So that helped us.

“But very — couldn’t believe the caution with 2 to go. Those guys wrecking, and then we were able to come back and get another restart, and get to the win, and get by Matt. Which he ran great for having two tires there, and we were able to get by him and get the victory.”

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Oral-B USA 500

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Hampton, Georgia

Sunday, August 31, 2014

1. (10) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 335, $310965.

2. (5) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 335, $264741.

3. (17) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 335, $182705.

4. (16) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 335, $198516.

5. (11) Carl Edwards, Ford, 335, $147505.

6. (27) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 335, $133095.

7. (4) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 335, $127545.

8. (3) Kyle Larson #, Chevrolet, 335, $150840.

9. (7) Aric Almirola, Ford, 335, $151506.

10. (18) Greg Biffle, Ford, 335, $154470.

11. (20) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 335, $119860.

12. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 335, $144049.

13. (22) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 335, $110135.

14. (14) Joey Logano, Ford, 335, $145126.

15. (19) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 335, $141710.

16. (8) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 335, $151751.

17. (9) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 335, $149546.

18. (33) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 335, $132824.

19. (1) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 335, $158218.

20. (26) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 334, $141010.

21. (25) Michael Annett #, Chevrolet, 334, $121343.

22. (24) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 334, $126418.

23. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 334, $129393.

24. (13) Austin Dillon #, Chevrolet, 334, $146096.

25. (29) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 332, $111418.

26. (31) Justin Allgaier #, Chevrolet, 332, $119018.

27. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 331, $116207.

28. (37) David Gilliland, Ford, 330, $105935.

29. (43) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 330, $97660.

30. (40) Cole Whitt #, Toyota, 329, $99010.

31. (42) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 329, $96860.

32. (41) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 328, $94185.

33. (36) Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 328, $94010.

34. (35) Brett Moffitt, Toyota, 327, $101860.

35. (30) Alex Bowman #, Toyota, 326, $93685.

36. (39) Ryan Truex #, Toyota, 326, $93560.

37. (34) Joe Nemechek(i), Ford, 324, $93391.

38. (21) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 314, $122756.

39. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, Accident, 296, $130173.

40. (23) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Vibration, 258, $79765.

41. (12) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Accident, 170, $109923.

42. (32) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, Engine, 122, $98110.

43. (28) Mike Bliss(i), Chevrolet, Vibration, 23, $68265.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 131.514 mph.

Time of Race: 03 Hrs, 55 Mins, 22 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.574 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 10 for 56 laps.

Lead Changes: 21 among 6 drivers.

Lap Leaders: K. Harvick 1-80; D. Hamlin 81-84; K. Harvick 85; D. Hamlin 86-107; K. Harvick 108-118; D. Hamlin 119-122; M. Kenseth 123-135; Kurt Busch 136-157; M. Kenseth 158-164; K. Harvick 165-170; B. Keselowski 171-173; D. Hamlin 174; M. Kenseth 175-182; K. Harvick 183-210; M. Kenseth 211-227; K. Harvick 228-258; D. Hamlin 259-260; K. Harvick 261-298; D. Hamlin 299-302; K. Kahne 303-325; M. Kenseth 326-333; K. Kahne 334-335.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Harvick 7 times for 195 laps; M. Kenseth 5 times for 53 laps; D. Hamlin 6 times for 37 laps; K. Kahne 2 times for 25 laps; Kurt Busch 1 time for 22 laps; B. Keselowski 1 time for 3 laps.

Top 16 in Points: J. Gordon – 872; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 851; M. Kenseth – 794; J. Logano – 791; B. Keselowski – 782; J. Johnson – 766; C. Edwards – 755; K. Harvick – 748; R. Newman – 747; G. Biffle – 728; K. Kahne – 708; C. Bowyer – 705; K. Larson # – 704; P. Menard – 675; A. Dillon # – 674; J. Mcmurray – 666.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, August 31 2014
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