Kahne Wins at Atlanta & Narrows in on The Chase

Kasey Kahne picked up his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season, driving the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger to victory in Sunday night’s Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  The win greatly enhanced Kahne’s chances of making the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Kahne, who qualified second, jumped from 11th to sixth in the point standings.  He now has a 96-point advantage over 13th with only one race – Richmond – remaining to finalize the Chase field.  It was a gain of 40 points.

The top 12 drivers in the season point standings following Saturday night’s race at Richmond will compete for the season championship and the Sprint Cup over the final 10 races of the year.

Kahne’s Dodge, powered by the R6 engine, was strong throughout the race, but especially on short runs.  His challengers excelled on longer runs.  Kahne was third when the ninth and final caution appeared with just 15 of the scheduled 325 laps remaining.  It was a made-to-order opportunity for Kahne and the No. 9 team.

All the leaders elected to pit for tires.  Kahne’s over-the-wall crew made a four-tire change and had the No. 9 Dodge back on the track in the second spot.  That was the norm most of the night as the No. 9 crew was flawless on pit road and frequently gained a spot or two in track position on each stop.

Race leader Kevin Harvick took the outside for the double-file restart with Kahne on the inside.  When the green flag appeared for the final 11 laps, Kahne had the lead before the field reached the second turn and quickly built a comfortable advantage en route to his 11th career victory.

“The entire Budweiser Dodge team did great tonight, ” said Kahne.  “The pit stops were awesome.  (Kevin) Harvick was best on the long run, but when we got that last caution, I knew we had a shot at the victory.  It’s all about making the Chase.  That certainly put us in a better position going to Richmond.  I knew Harvick and (Juan Pablo) Montoya were going to be tough.  I hadn’t gotten through the gears all night, but (David) Reutimann gave me a little push on the front stretch and got me going.  It was a great win for Richard Petty Motorsports and the Budweiser Dodge team.”

If Kahne finishes 21st or better or 23rd or better and leads a lap at Richmond next week, he is assured a Chase berth.

“That was something else, ” said Kenny Francis, crew chief for the No. 9 Dodge.  “I said about three-quarters through the race that if it came down to a short run, we might have a shot at it (the win).  Man, when that caution came out, it was perfect for us.  Kasey had a great restart, got the lead and drove away.   I just couldn’t believe it.  The guys did a great job all night.  The pit stops were flawless.  We picked up spots just about every stop.  The car was real good on short runs.  It got a little too loose on the long run, but it still wasn’t bad.  It just played into our hand tonight.  We just thank the Lord for making us smart enough to make the right decisions.”

It was Kahne’s second victory and seventh top-10 finish in 12 races at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The win gives Dodge a sweep at AMS this season.  Kurt Busch dominated the spring event, leading 234 laps en route to victory.  The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge just didn’t handle as well this time around.  Numerous attempts to tighten the car during pit stops fell short in correcting the issue.  Running in the top 20, Busch was involved in a mishap in turn four on lap 246.  Extensive damage ended the night for the Blue Deuce.  Busch finished 38th.

“I had a loose race car all night, ” Busch said.  “We just couldn’t get a handle on our Miller Lite Dodge.  I was sideways and I guess the 43 hit us.  He had nowhere to go.  It was a real hard hit; that was a bummer.  We were just trying to get a handle on it, but couldn’t do it.  I felt like we were on the spring (race) tires and everybody else was on the fall (race) tires.

“I was trying to hang on to it and get to the next pit stop, but it kept getting looser and looser.  We just got bit tonight by the loose bug.”

Busch came into the event sixth in points with a 192-point advantage over 13th.  He dropped one spot to seventh and the margin over 13th has been reduced to 95 points.  Busch can secure a spot on the Chase by finishing 20th or better at Richmond or 22nd and lead a lap.

David Stremme recorded his second top-15 finish in the last three races.  He finished 14th in the No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Charger.  He started ninth, ran as high as eighth and was in the top 20 throughout the race.

AJ Allmendinger finished 20th and teammate Elliott Sadler was 21st as 21 cars were on the lead lap when the checkered flag appeared.

Driver    Team    Finished
Kasey Kahne    No. 9 Budweiser Dodge    Win
David Stremme    No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge    14th
AJ Allmendinger    No. 44 Hunt Brothers Pizza Dodge    20th
Elliott Sadler    No. 19 Stanley Dodge    21st
Reed Sorenson    No. 43 Air Force Dodge    27th
Sam Hornish Jr.    No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge    35th
Kurt Busch    No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge    38th

Driver    Rank    Starts    Points    Behind    Wins    Poles    T5s    T10s
Kasey Kahne    6    25    3153    -541    2    0    5    10
Kurt Busch    7    25    3152    -542    1    0    6    13
AJ Allmendinger    25    25    2361    -1333    0    0    1    3
Elliott Sadler    26    25    2355    -1339    0    0    1    3
Sam Hornish Jr.    27    25    2292    -1402    0    0    2    6
Reed Sorenson    28    25    2275    -1419    0    0    0    1
David Stremme    31    25    2204    -1490    0    0    0    0

NSCS Driver Points after 25 of 36 races
1. Tony Stewart      3, 694       +637
2. Jeff Gordon              3, 457        400
3. Jimmie Johnson       3, 404          347
4. Denny Hamlin          3, 296        239
5. Carl Edwards        3, 162         105
6. Kasey Kahne              3, 153           96
7. Kurt Busch          3, 152           95

8. Juan Montoya          3, 145           88
9. Ryan Newman         3, 138            81
10. Mark Martin          3, 126            69
11. Greg Biffle        3, 125                   68
12. Matt Kenseth        3, 077            20    (points ahead of final Chase spot)
13. Brian Vickers       3, 057           -20
14. Kyle Busch        3, 040            -37

— 30 —


  • HEMIhead
    Posted September 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Way to go Kasey! What a finish for the Budweiser DODGE! Now this is Dodge racing!
    Please Mr. Acavetti, do not let this driver leave Dodge.
    Insiders say Kahne will be driving for Toyota next season?
    Please tell me this is incorrect? For Godsake don’t loose this talent right now. It’s the exact driver Dodge needs at this time. If RPM wants to switch to another manufacturer, then so be it. But Kasey needs to stay with the Dodge brand. Maybe you can convince Penske to go with kasey and have a 4 car team next season? With Kurt, Brad, Kasey, and Sam Hornish, you would have the super team
    you were talking about. For the Hard core DODGE fans out there, please make it happen.

  • GoDodgeGo
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Great job Kasey, and don’t let Kasey and Richard Petty Motorsports move Toyota. They are American legends for Godsake.

  • GoDodgeGo
    Posted September 9, 2009 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    I meant to say don’t let Kasey and Petty move to Toyota. Toyota has just about bought out all the drivers in the truck and nationwide series, this is ridiculous! An all American sport has become an Asian monopoly.

  • MoparBob
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Great team retention you got there, Mike. You’re idea that you can win a NASCAR Championship with one team (provided Penske doesn’t go away too) is either naive or just plain stupid. The odds of attrition factor in. DODGE is outnumbered now bigtime. We’ll be lucky to win races let alone Championships. And what happened to Kasey Kahne being a DODGE man? More lies. Thanks Mike, for everything…:

    Richard Petty Motorsports to run Fords in 2010, merge w/Yates: Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing announced today they have signed a letter of intent to merge operations in time for the 2010 season. The four-car team will race Fords under the Richard Petty Motorsports banner.
    Richard Petty: “This is a pretty big deal for us. We’re thrilled to partner with Ford. We’ve talked with a lot of folks, but in the end it came down to the success the Gilletts and I think we can achieve with Ford Racing. Right now this deal is real new. There are lots of details still left to be ironed out so we don’t have a lot of answers for anyone right now. We’ll be working on all that in the coming days, weeks and months, but we do intend to have everything in place before the start of next season. I’ve won races with Ford and plan to again.”
    Team Managing Partner Foster Gillett: “Richard and Kasey (Kahne) showed us Sunday night in Atlanta that they like winning quite a bit and Ford is going to provide the support that we need to go to victory lane more often. If you are going to compete with the other teams in this sport you need a lot of support. We bring a lot to this relationship as well. We’ve won twice this season and the power of Richard Petty is hard to beat, plus we have the support of some of the biggest names in corporate America.”
    Yates Racing Co-owner Max Jones: “This is certainly a great opportunity for both Yates Racing as well as Ford Racing. I have had a long-term relationship with Ford and look forward to continuing that relationship at Richard Petty Motorsports. Over the coming weeks we will continue to work with Ford and Richard Petty to lay out the best plan for Paul Menard and all of the employees at Yates Racing. We will continue to field both the #98 and #96 Ford Fusions for the remainder of the season and look forward to continued success on the track with Paul, Bobby Labonte and Erik Darnell.”
    Yates Racing Co-owner Doug Yates: “This plan is clearly in the best interest of the Ford Racing community. On a personal level, I am excited about the opportunity to focus my full energy on building Ford horsepower. We look forward to working with Richard Petty Motorsports to produce power second to none. There are many details to be worked out with Richard Petty Motorsports and as we finalize those details we will keep everyone informed.”
    Director of Ford North America Motorsports Brian Wolfe: “I am very pleased that Richard Petty Motorsports has made the decision to switch to Ford for the 2010 season. They had choices to consider other than Ford and it’s gratifying to us that they have enough faith in the Ford Motor Company and what we’re doing to make the switch. We believe we can provide them with superior analytical tools and powertrain, and we will work with them closely on the technical front to help them become even more competitive than they are. What’s also really cool to me is the chance to have someone with the class and the legacy of Richard Petty involved with Ford. Combine that with the chance to work with the Gillett family, who we have great respect for, and add some great drivers to the Ford camp, well, it’s hard not to be excited about this opportunity.”
    Note: Paul Menard will be one of the drivers in the Petty team joining #9-Kasey Kahne, #19-Elliott Sadler and #44-AJ Allmendinger.(Richard Petty Motorsports)
    and the PR doesn’t mention Reed Sorenson or what car number Menard will run and with this merger, looks like the #26 Roush Fenway Racing team may now go away as they it not merge with Yates Racing now, since Yates and RPM merging is at the four car limit mandated by NASCAR. So unless something changes, two more cars/teams are lost: would expect RPM to run the #9, #19 and #43 so either the #44 team or the #98 team would go away and the #26 Ford that was rumored to be going to Yates.
    UPDATE: on Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 128, Sirius Speedway radio show, Reed Sorenson, current driver of the #43 RPM Dodge, was interviewed and said he knew a few weeks ago that he would not be back with Richard Petty Motorsports in 2010 and he is looking for a ride in 2010. Sorenson says he has enjoyed working with all his current sponsors in 2009 and a few would like to stay with him.(9-10-2009)

  • sublime
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Richard Petty who owes most of his victories to Mopar is now a Ford. They even termed the corporation blue color Petty Blue and now he is going to be a Ford. Why don’t you just pull the plug on NASCAR and focus on delivering cool retro cars to Dodge customers. Dodge finally wins a race this year and Ford takes the team the following day. God help us all.

  • sublime
    Posted September 10, 2009 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    Dodge pulls the plug on Richard Petty Motorsports, the team that is finally on a roll and winning races and decides to only back the team that is now losing with Kurt Busch. Great move…Kurt don’t let us down and make it in the chase and win it all.

  • Frank
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    I am very angry with the fact that dodge likes to set in at the the bottom of the barrel. They start winning and they let those drivers and teams go away. I dont know about you But dodge will never win another championship with that kind of loyalty. Im a die hard Mopar fan. But honestly i think ill die before they win championship in nascar. Im at a loss and cant even think strait im so pissed. Its not Petty or Kaseys Fault either. Even those ill still burn the t-shirts and no longer support them.

  • HEMIhead
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Way to go Mike A. You just lost your “earnhardt” of a driver. I gotta make this short because I got alot of deleting to do on my computer, and this site and Dodge motorsports site are going also. Here’s Chrysler/Dodge’s #1 problem in the past and present, “You guys never listen to what customers and enthusists’ want”. You just make you own decisions. Good luck with your Nascar support cause you won’t be getting none from me. Please post an address where I and other former fans can send in their #9 Kahne gear for reimbersement from dodge for all the money they wasted on this stuff.
    Maybe your’re hiding away because Jim Press is taking you to Toyota with him.
    Nice move, I only make 50K a year and I could make a stupid decision like that.

  • HEMIhead
    Posted September 12, 2009 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Yet another great decision.
    Go figure?
    One small team ain’t gonna work guys.
    One would think you’d have Nascar figured out by now. This is a big helping of “Not Good”.

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