Kahne wins Texas race from pole
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kasey Kahne couldn't believe his rearview mirror when he crossed the finish line Sunday in Texas.
There was nobody there.
Not Matt Kenseth, not Tony Stewart.
"I definitely thought I had my hands full with those guys," said Kahne, as shocked as anybody about his five-second victory.
Kahne sped away from the field -- and his closest competitors -- after the final restart with 17 laps to go to become the 11th winner in as many Nextel Cup races held at Texas Motor Speedway.
"This is a great victory. It's one of the tracks I have looked at since I started racing. This is a track you want to win at," said Kahne, who turns 26 on Monday. "This track, Indianapolis and Daytona. If you can win at one of these tracks, you have really done something."
In his 2004 rookie season, Kahne finished second at Texas -- only two-hundredths of a second behind with his nose on the rear bumper of winner Elliott Sadler. He didn't have to worry about a close finish this time.
Kahne even scored a Texas first, becoming the first driver to win from the pole at the 1½-mile, high-banked track.
After taking the lead from Stewart with 27 laps to go, Kahne built a 1.4-second cushion over Stewart and Kenseth before a caution flag for debris on the track. All three cars took four tires on the pit stop and came out in the same order they went in.
It took Kahne a couple of laps after the restart to finally clear the lapped car of Robby Gordon. Once he did, he cruised to the checkered flag at the Samsung/RadioShack 500. Kenseth got past Stewart, who led 99 laps after winning last weekend at Martinsville, for second place.
"I don't think I could have caught him on eight tires he was going so fast," Kenseth said.
(Unofficial after final race)
|3. (+1)||Denny Hamlin||-68|
|4. (-1)||Kevin Harvick||-78|
|5.||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||-147|
|8. (+1)||Kasey Kahne||-292|
|9. (-1)||Mark Martin||-307|
Kahne won for the second time this season, in the same No. 9 Evernham Dodge he took to Victory Lane from the pole in Atlanta last month. It was his third career victory.
The last three times Kahne's been on the pole, he's won, including Richmond last season.
"The car got loose at the start. It took us a while to get going," Kahne said. "It was a heck of a run with Tony there."
Stewart had been the one cruising ahead of the field until lap 302. That's when the reigning Cup champion came up behind the lapped car of rookie J.J. Yeley on the backstretch. That allowed Kahne to catch up and even nose ahead, though he didn't officially lead until a few laps later.
Kahne crept alongside Stewart and was on the champion's bumper several times before finally taking the lead. Kahne went around Stewart in the fourth turn at the end of lap 307 and made the final pass right at the line.
"It was fun racing like that. Obviously, if there had been 80 laps to go, neither one of us would have been racing each other that way," Stewart said. "Definitely, he was better. We weren't. We were extremely loose there at the end."
All 10 past Texas Cup winners were in Sunday's 334-lap race at the track marking its 10th season of racing; none won from the pole position.
Denny Hamlin was fourth Sunday, his first career top-five finish. He led three times for 41 laps.
Kevin Harvick was fifth, followed by Jeff Burton, Scott Riggs, Joe Nemechek, Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte.
Martin, the 47-year-old Roush driver who initially hadn't planned to race this season, had his fifth top-10 finish and is fourth in points. Martin insists this will be his last full-time Cup season no matter what happens.
Points leader Jimmie Johnson was two laps down at one point Sunday, but came back to finish 11th and kept the points lead, 15 ahead of Kenseth. Kahne is third.
Carl Edwards was in the second spot on lap 257 when he got loose, spun out of control and was done for the day. He missed hitting the back end of Stewart's passing car by mere inches.
Edwards led 50 laps, one more than his Roush Racing teammate Greg Biffle, who was knocked out by Kurt Busch, their teammate from a year ago. Edwards and Biffle won the two Nextel Cup races held at Texas last year.
Busch, the 2004 Cup champion who won his Busch Series debut Saturday, got stuck in the pit for nearly a minute during his first stop because of a problem with the jack lifting the car. Busch dropped to 40th place and two laps down by time he got back on the track.
He was still a lap down when he bumped Biffle from behind on lap 83 and sent the No. 16 Ford into the wall. The impact damaged the safety barrier in turn 3 and repairs were made during a 10-minute red flag.
"It was clear that we had a winning car," said Biffle, who won last April before Edwards won the first fall race at the track.
"I don't know what he was doing. I was a lapped car trying to get out of his way," Busch said. "He checked up. ... I tried not to get him. I had nowhere to go."
While he came up short in Sunday's Cup race, Stewart finally took a checkered flag at Texas in round two of the International Race of Champions on Friday night. He had been in 13 races on the track before then, including Cup, Busch and Indy Racing League cars.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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