The Chase held to form Sunday. There were two cars … and Kasey Kahne.
Kahne again had a front-row seat for the championship fight between race winner Tony Stewart and points leader Carl Edwards. While those two finished 1-2 in the AAA Texas 500, Kahne was right behind in third. Right where he’s usually been in the 10-race Chase.
“I watched Tony and Carl. They’re going for it,” Kahne said. “Tony raced me as hard as he ever raced me. I had to race as hard as I could. They’re trying to get as many points as they can. It’s intense trying to win these races right now.”
Aside from Stewart and Edwards, no driver has performed better in the Chase than non-Chaser Kahne. Four times in the past six races he has been the highest-finishing non-Chase driver. He has a sixth, two fourths, a three and a second and only once has finished outside the top 15.
How Kasey Kahne ranks against the Chase contenders. Through eight races, with position, driver, average finish, points gained, average points gained per race:
- 1 - Carl Edwards - 5.625 - 313 - 39.125
- 2 - Tony Stewart - 7.375 - 313 - 39.125
- 14 - Kasey Kahne - 8.875 - 284 - 35.500
- 3 - Kevin Harvick - 10.625 - 271 - 33.875
- 4 - Matt Kenseth - 11.250 - 272 - 34.000
- 5 - Brad Keselowski - 11.375 - 267 - 33.375
- 6 - Jimmie Johnson - 13.375 - 258 - 32.250
- 7 - Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 14.500 - 237 - 29.625
- 8 - Jeff Gordon - 16.375 - 226 - 28.250
- 9 - Kurt Busch - 16.875 - 226 - 28.250
- 10 - Denny Hamlin - 17.000 - 217 - 27.125
- 11 - Kyle Busch - 16.000 - 204 - 29.142
- 12 - Ryan Newman - 18.500 - 210 - 26.250
The timing of the race’s second caution worked in Kahne’s favor. The No. 4 Red Bull Toyota safely made it off pit road just as an incident involving Geoffrey Bodine and Juan Pablo Montoya unfolded on the backstretch. Lead-lap cars came in to pit, leaving Kahne on point. He led twice for five laps, later dropped to eighth after a four-tire stop and climbed to third at the finish.
“The car was just a little bit too loose to get much further than that,” Kahne said. “We were battling there with Tony, who I felt was definitely the best car throughout the whole race. We battled with him for a while. Track position was a big deal. Even on those long runs it would get spread out. The guy out front could make up some ground. You needed to be as close to the front as possible.
“We just weren’t quite as good as the 14 (Stewart) and the 99 (Edwards) there at the end. They were a little better than us, but we were close. We were there all day and it was a good race.”
No. 83 driver Brian Vickers chased track position during long green-flag runs that consumed the first two-thirds of the race. It had been a slow climb to the top 15 and under the third caution, Vickers made contact with Kurt Busch’s No. 22 entering the pits, which proved costly at the high-speed, aero-dependent track.
“Car was great at the beginning. We picked them off one by one. We were making progress,” Vickers said. “The pit crew was awesome today, but I made a mistake and hit the 22 car coming into pit road and that really messed up the aero of the car.”
The No. 83 Red Bull Toyota cycled to as high as fourth during a late run to the finish, but like all the others Vickers was forced to pit — he finished 21st — and hand over the show to Stewart and Edwards … and Kahne.
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