Kasey Kahne muscled his way past Matt Kenseth to win at Atlanta Motor Speedway and lock himself into the Chase Sunday night.
Kasey Kahne has secured his place in the Chase with a victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night. The Hendrick Motorsports driver joins his three teammates with his 17th career Sprint Cup win and first this season.
"It feels great. It's all about making the Chase and we've done it," Kahne said.
Top ten finishers
Matt Kenseth also locked himself into the Chase, via points. He finished second tonigth after a thrilling battle with Kahne on a GWC. His JGR teammate Denny Hamlin came home third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.
"We lost the handle about halfway and really just couldn't get it back," Hamlin admitted.
Danica Patrick finished sixth, the best result of her career. Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top ten.
Kahne took the lead on a restart that followed the eighth caution of the race with 28 laps remaining in the 325-lap scheduled distance. He seemed to have the win in the bag when an unlikely caution came out with just two laps to go. Tempers flared between Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr., resulting in a crash.
Everyone pitted. Kenseth and Paul Menard took only two tires for track position and restarted on the front row, while Kahne fell back to fifth
"You get the front, and you've got a chance with this aero package," Kenseth said.
GWC stack-up and fight to the finish
When Menard spun his tires on the restart, the field bunched up, sending Harvick, who dominated most of the race, into the wall. A number of other drivers including Logano, Edwards, Johnson, Menard, Biffle, and Kurt Busch took some kind of damage as cars scattered in evasion.
Kenseth and Hamlin restarted first and second on the final restart, with Kahne third. As soon as the race got back underway, Kahne carved his way between the two JGR teammates and took over the lead. Kenseth held onto his door for about a lap before getting loose nd falling behind as the white flag flew.
The 500 mile race was slowed by a total of ten cautions and prolonged by two Green-White-Checkereds. There were 22 lead changes and 19 cars finished on the lead lap.
With Kenseth and Kahne securing two of the 16 coveted Chase spots, that only leaves two left to be taken at Richmond. Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle hold them at the moment, but neither of those drivers have won a race this season. Anyone inside the top 30 in points could potentially race their way in with a victory in the regular season finale next weekend.