Kahne dodges trouble to earn Charlotte victory

There was no full moon. Friday the 13th had come and gone. Yet the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway was tinged with bizarre incidents which made for a wild night in Charlotte. The night began with a 14-car pile up on the first lap ...

There was no full moon. Friday the 13th had come and gone. Yet the Bank of America 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway was tinged with bizarre incidents which made for a wild night in Charlotte.

The night began with a 14-car pile up on the first lap continued with a service truck on the track under a perceived green flag and ended with Kasey Kahne wheeling the No. 9 Dodge into Victory Lane to sweep both points races at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend.

Kahne led 133 of the 334 laps to grab his sixth win of the season and seventh of his career, "We had a great car. It was unbelievable tonight."

It was the run Kahne needed to keep his title hopes alive. He moves to eighth in standings trailing by just 160 points.

"We are making ground," Kahne said of the Chase. "We are down to 160. We've cut it about half. It's good. We are doing everything we can. We want a top five, want to win some more races, we'll see what happens. I have the team behind me to do it."

LMS wasn't Jimmie Johnson's house tonight; he had to settle for second. It is Johnson's eighth straight top-three finish at Charlotte, "The race was so tough to get going with the short runs we had with the small fuel cells. It was boring and it felt to me like it took some of the racing out of it with the small cells."

Point leader Jeff Burton was third maintaining his lead in the standings, "We have done a nice job of positioning ourselves, we have to go to every race and do the best we can. We have to go to every race and whether we finish first or 43rd know that we put our best effort it. We have had some fortune and run well and hopefully we can keep doing that."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Bobby Labonte complete the top five.

"I was real happy with tonight," said Earnhardt. "We led for awhile and got to run good in front of a lot of friends and family. It was a good night for us."

Scott Riggs got the night started by leading the field to the green flag but he didn't lead one lap before teammate Kahne passed him for the lead. The first caution fell before the initial lap was complete as a multi-car crash involving 14 cars slowed the field.

It was a sign of things to come.

On the restart after the first caution, the flagman appeared to wave the field green as the engines roared to life but there were safety vehicles remaining on the race track forcing NASCAR to slow the field down.

NASCAR did not count that as a caution but they really didn't need to as accidents, mistakes on pit road and other bizarre occurrences made the race as strange and hard to follow as Friday night's Busch event at LMS.

As NASCAR struggled to run the race appropriately, drivers struggled with their cars. Many complained that the new smaller fuel cells forced them to pit so often that they never really found the handle on their cars.

Denny Hamlin never even got a chance to see how the fuel cell would affect him. Hamlin was caught up in the night's first wreck and wound up 28th. The only thing that prevented him freefalling in standings was that he was joined in the luckless department by several other championship contenders.

Mark Martin had an issue on pit road with lug nuts late in the race and was attempting to restart at the tail of the pack when JJ Yeley dipped down to go onto pit road and crashed into Martin; ending his night in 30th place.

Kevin Harvick limped around the track with just fourth gear to grab 18th and Jeff Gordon lost an engine forcing him to end in 24th place.

Jeff Burton continues to lead the Chase for the Nextel Cup class of 2006. Matt Kenseth (-45), Kevin Harvick (-89), Mark Martin (-102), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-106), Denny Hamlin (-137), Jimmie Johnson (-146), Kasey Kahne (-160), Kyle Busch (-195) and Jeff Gordon (-216) complete the top five.

There were 10 cautions for 52 laps and 34 lead changes among 13 drivers with just 11 of the field of 43 cars finished on the lead lap.

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Series NASCAR-CUP