If there is one driver that I would have picked to miss the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Chase this year it would have been Kasey Kahne.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of Kahne and his driving abilities. My only concern was the new emphasis on wins being the biggest factor for making the 16 car chase contender field. Now the worries are over as the No. 5 team for Hendrick Motorsports won the race in Atlanta.
Again, Kahne is a very skilled driver and has won many times in the upper levels of racing. He is also a driver that seems to have a date with bad luck on many occasions. Often Kahne is caught up in wrecks or late race incidents that are not often of his doing. So, I figured that Kahne would get close to winning several times this season only to have a lap car hit him or a tire blow on the last lap. Kahne said that he may have finally moved past all of the rough spots during the season.
"Really happy. It's tough. We've had a downer year at times. I's been one thing after another,” Kahne said.
“But we're in the Chase with our teammates, I have great teammates. It's awesome to work with those guys. Glad we're in the Chase."
Following the win in the Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway Kahne pulled his car into victory lane to celebrate. When he climbed out of his car to the roar of his crew and fans he was also given a show of support from his fellow Hendrick Motorsports team mates. He was congratulated by teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Heading into the race weekend at Atlanta Kahne was the only Hendrick team to date without a win. The three drivers came into victory lane and let their teammate know that they were excited for Kahne being with them in the chase field.
With all four Hendrick cars making the Chase they will have an incredible amount of notes and information to share. It’s the fourth year in a row that Hendrick has placed all four of his cars in the Chase field.
Last Lap Win
Kahne started the race in the tenth spot and was able to maintain his position around the top ten for much of the evening as the leaders battled things out. With only 24 laps to go Kahne was able to take the lead from Denny Hamlin as the two made their way around turns one and two.
It soon looked like Kevin Harvick would spoil the nigh for Kahne as he battled forward with his ride which had been dominate for much of the night. The closing laps would then see a series of Green/White/Checker finishes after late cautions which shuffled Kahne back for the final restart.
Kahne was able to split the two lead cars making it a final lap race between him and the No. 29 car of Matt Kenseth. The two drivers powered down the back stretch of Atlanta for the final time when Kenseth seemed to get loose for a brief seconds. Kahne then moved to the lead rounding the final turns in order to capture the Chekcered flag and a spot in the chase.