Sep 1, 2014, 12:14 AM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. – Kasey Kahne‘s 17th career Sprint Cup win couldn’t have been any larger.
Battling Matt Kenseth in a two-lap, green-white-checker drag race to the finish, Kahne punched his ticket into the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Kenseth’s Toyota wiggled heading into the white flag lap and that’s all it took for Kahne to get past, rolling to his first win in 39 starts, dating back to August 2013 at Pocono.
“We were all over the place during the race, but the guys stayed with me and worked hard,” Kahne said in Victory Lane. “I’m really happy and real thankful. We’ve had a downer year at times. … It’s been one thing after another, but now I’m in the Chase with my teammates and it’s great to be part of HMS (Hendrick Motorsports).”
Kahne becomes the 13th different driver to win a race this season, with just next week’s race at Richmond for any other winless driver to win and also make the Chase.
“This is a team effort,” Kahne said. “The guys did great tonight and I’m pretty pumped to be in here. We’re locked in. I hate that it comes down to this, Atlanta and Richmond for me. Sometimes we’re in and sometimes we’re out. We made it again, third time with HMS. I’m thankful for that.”
That gives the overall organization now a 25 percent chance to win the championship – the best odds of any of the 16 teams that will make up the expanded playoff field.
All three of his HMS teammates came over to congratulate Kahne in Victory Lane.
“How the heck did you get past them?” Jeff Gordon laughed to Kahne while giving him kudos for the win.
While he came up short for a second-place finish, Kenseth still has reason to feel elated, having officially clinched his spot in the Chase on points. While he’d like for it to have been a win, he gladly settled for second and a place in the playoffs.
“Those last two laps were really intense,” Kenseth said. “… Things are looking up. I’m looking forward to the next 11 (races).”
Kenseth and Denny Hamlin, who finished third, led the field to the green flag for the final restart on Lap 333, but Hamlin’s could not catch Kenseth nor hold off Kahne, ultimately finishing third.
“I couldn’t capitalize, couldn’t get the restarts and couldn’t accelerate,” Hamlin said. “We just came up short. Third is about the place car we had tonight.”
Jimmie Johnson finished fourth, followed by Carl Edwards.
Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick dominated the race, leading 195 laps and appeared headed for a weekend sweep, having won Saturday night’s Nationwide Series race.
Harvick finished 19th.
It was a rough night for a number of drivers:
* Tony Stewart, making his first start after missing the last three Sprint Cup races due to the Kevin Ward Jr. tragedy, ran a very strong race until Lap 122, when his car and that of Kyle Busch made contact.
Both cars suffered right side damage that required several pit stops for Stewart under caution to repair the damage. Busch’s crew was able to repair the damage to his car on just one stop.
While Stewart was able to stay on the lead lap until just before halfway (Lap 161), dropping one lap down at that point, things went from bad to worse 11 laps later.
Stewart appeared to suffer tire failure and his car went directly into the Turn 2 wall, sustaining significant damage, forcing him to limp his injured ride back to the pits and then on to the garage area, where it appeared his night had come to an end.
* Jeff Gordon was running second when his car hit the wall on Lap 79 heading into Turn 3, apparently due to a blown left front tire, Gordon told his crew over the team radio. Gordon’s car was never quite the same, ending up in 17th-place.
* Clint Bowyer, trying to hold on to his spot in the Chase, suffered a broken shifter in his car early in the race, leading to being sidelined for more than 20 laps in the garage while. Bowyer finished 38th.
* Marcos Ambrose‘s two remaining chances to make the Chase with a win were abruptly cut in half when the motor on his Ford Fusion broke on Lap 123 of the 325-lap event.
Follow me @JerryBonkowski
Oct 2, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
Category four typhoon could force the race to be held on Saturday instead of Sunday.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT
Umbrellas at the ready! This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is going to be a rainy one.
Oct 2, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT
Titles on the line at the TUDOR Championship finale in Atlanta.
Oct 2, 2014, 12:05 AM EDT
Graham Rahal ends P19 after a tough season, but he was better than the stats would indicate.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:59 PM EDT
Roberto Merhi and Will Stevens to run in FP1 at Suzuka.
Oct 1, 2014, 11:35 PM EDT
Results and statistics don’t tell the tale for Takuma Sato’s hard-luck 2014 IndyCar season.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:57 PM EDT
Jack Hawksworth overachieved in his first Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Oct 1, 2014, 7:00 PM EDT
Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne check in on the Contender round of the new Chase format.
Oct 1, 2014, 6:00 PM EDT
Jimmie Johnson not a fan of the “under the radar” terminology.
Oct 1, 2014, 5:15 PM EDT
A P2 penalty issued to No. 20 NASCAR Truck team upheld after appeal.
Oct 1, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
Bailiffs seize goods at Leafield, but Caterham issues a statement saying that it is business as usual.
Oct 1, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT
Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America goes in-depth with all 12 drivers in Round 2 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, also known as the Contenders Round.
Report: Australian-owned team, driver and sponsor to debut in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2015
Oct 1, 2014, 2:10 PM EDT
While Marcos Ambrose is returning to his native Australia after this season, a new Australian-owned team is set to make its debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next season, complete with an Australian-born driver and Aussie primary sponsor.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:53 PM EDT
Bill Elliott figured real estate would be a good investment many years ago, and did that belief ever pay off for the soon-to-be NASCAR Hall of Famer.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Kawasaki officially announced that reigning supercross champion Ryan Villopoto will head to Europe next year to race the MXGP series. Davi Millsaps and Wil Hahn will replace him on the American Monster Energy Kawasaki team.
Oct 1, 2014, 1:08 PM EDT
He’s reached the fourth round of Dancing With The Stars, but will NASCAR’s Michael Waltrip and partner Emma Slater make it to the fifth round?
Oct 1, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT
Jeff Gordon is now just three top-10 finishes away from tying Mark Martin for second most top-10s in a career. And in an ironic twist, Gordon is still seeking his first pole at this Sunday’s race venue, Kansas Motor Speedway.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
More details revealed ahead of Honda’s return to F1 in 2015 with McLaren.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:25 AM EDT
Clint Bowyer’s officially a father.
Oct 1, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT
Veteran NASCAR crew chief Mike Ford has joined Athenian Motorsports, the Nationwide Series team announced Wednesday.
Video from NASCAR America
- 2014 Japanese Grand Prix Preview 0
- Caterham denies future is at risk despite goods being seized 2
- Simona de Silvestro’s F1 hopes at risk due to financial problems 11
- NASCAR AMERICA: Dale Earnhardt Jr. aims for better results in Chase (VIDEO) 1
- NASCAR AMERICA: Jeff Gordon, 24 team make statement at Dover (VIDEO) 0
- Weekend wrap-up: Was first Chase elimination race an exciting one? 0
- Tony Stewart speaks, cites overwhelming support in the search of return to normalcy 24