Atlanta NASCAR: Kasey Kahne rescues Chase place with dramatic win
|Monday, September 1st 2014, 04:11 GMT|
Kasey Kahne came from nowhere to take his first win of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season at Atlanta and guarantee a Chase place, after a wild, double green-white-chequered, finish.
Kahne was mired in obscurity for the first three quarters of the race, but he unseated Kevin Harvick for the lead after a great restart with 23 laps to go.
Just when Kahne looked to have pulled off the win, Kyle Busch ran into the back of Martin Truex Jr with a lap and a half remaining, bringing out a caution.
As the leaders pitted and some gambled on just two tyres, Kahne fell to fifth.
But main rival Harvick was left with nowhere to go on the restart, when tyre gambler Paul Menard got away slowly and moved up the track in front of him.
Harvick, who had led 195 laps, was sent into the wall and consigned to a 19th-place finish.
The incident brought about the second green-white-chequered attempt, and Kahne got the perfect start from the second row to take the lead at the white flag, with his win ensuring all four Hendrick cars make the Chase.
Matt Kenseth came home second after a spirited attempt to hold off Kahne at the end.
Denny Hamlin rounded out the top three having consistently run at the front, mainly thanks to his pitcrew regularly outperforming their peers in the top 10. His car wasn't quick enough over the long run though, and he fell away at the end with steering trouble.
Tony Stewart performed well on his return to competition after missing three races in the wake of the fatal sprint car incident in which Kevin Ward Jr lost his life.
Stewart ran in the top 10 until a clash with Kyle Busch put him in the wall, and he crashed again on lap 172 when a tyre blew.
Points leader Jeff Gordon was another driver to suffer a flat tyre, sending him into the wall after he had worked his way up from ninth at the start to second behind Harvick.
He ran laptimes equal to the leaders for most of the race but only recouped his lost laps amid the late incidents, finishing 17th.
Team-mate Jimmie Johnson was fourth ahead of leading Ford driver Carl Edwards and Danica Patrick, whose sixth was her best result yet.
Results - 335 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 3h55m24.000s 2. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota +0.574s 3. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota +0.829s 4. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet +1.154s 5. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford +1.523s 6. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +1.543s 7. Ryan Newman Childress Chevrolet +1.771s 8. Kyle Larson Ganassi Chevrolet +1.904s 9. Aric Almirola Petty Ford +2.162s 10. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford +2.759s 11. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet +2.797s 12. Jamie McMurray Ganassi Chevrolet +3.435s 13. Kurt Busch Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +3.544s 14. Joey Logano Penske Ford +3.674s 15. Brian Vickers Waltrip Toyota +4.166s 16. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota +4.651s 17. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet +4.706s 18. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet +5.973s 19. Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet +18.710s 20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford -1 lap 21. Michael Annett Baldwin Chevrolet -1 lap 22. Casey Mears Germain Chevrolet -1 lap 23. Martin Truex Jr Furniture Row Chevrolet -1 lap 24. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet -1 lap 25. Ty Dillon Childress Chevrolet -3 laps 26. Justin Allgaier Hscott Chevrolet -3 laps 27. David Ragan Front Row Ford -4 laps 28. David Gilliland Front Row Ford -5 laps 29. Reed Sorenson Baldwin Chevrolet -5 laps 30. Cole Whitt BK Toyota -6 laps 31. Landon Cassill Hillman Chevrolet -6 laps 32. JJ Yeley Go FAS Ford -7 laps 33. Jose Wise Parsons Chevrolet -7 laps 34. Brett Moffitt Robinson Toyota -8 laps 35. Alex Bowman BK Toyota -9 laps 36. Ryan Truex BK Toyota -9 laps 37. Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota -11 laps 38. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota -21 laps Retirements: Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 296 laps AJ Allmendinger JTG Daugherty Chevrolet 258 laps Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 170 laps Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 122 laps Mike Bliss Baldwin Chevrolet 23 laps