Kahne Passes Harvick for Atlanta Win

Kasey Kahne will no longer have to think about whether he'll make the 2009 Chase in the Sprint Cup Series or not. His win at Atlanta Motor Speedway speaks for itself, as it boosted the Richard Petty Motorsports driver from 11th to 6th overall in the drivers classification, with only one race to go until the 12 drivers' list will be defined.

Kahne passed Kevin Harvick with 11 laps to go and never looked back, crossing the finish line in 1st place for the second time this season. And it was his car's ability to leave the others behind during the short runs that got him the win, as he wouldn't have stood a chance before Harvick hadn't it been for the last caution of the day.

Although briefly leading the race a few times in its early stages, Kahne always seemed to lose out in front of his rivals during the long runs. His luck changed only 17 laps to the finish line, when Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer spun out in Turn 4 and brought the safety car for the 9th and final time on Sunday.

Once everyone pitted for new tires, Kahne advanced to 2nd place and started going for the lead once the green flag was waved off. Harvick only resisted his attacks for a few laps, after which he was forced to let go. Had the final stint lasted a few laps longer, the Richard Childress Racing driver may have been able to get back into the lead by the finish line. However, with only 11 laps to go, there was nothing he could do.

Harvick was best on the long run, but when we got that last caution and the restart with 11 to go, I knew we had a shot at the victory. It's all about making the Chase. That certainly put us in a better position going to Richmond,” said an enthusiastic Kahne in the Victory Lane.

Third overall was Juan Pablo Montoya who, like Harvick, benefited from long-run equipment from his Earnhardt Ganassi-prepared Chevy. The Colombian tried a late surge on the runner-up spot but was fended off by Harvick in the closing stages of the race. Had his crew take less time changing his tires during the last pit stop, he would have even challenged for the win in the end.

David Reutimann eventually finished the race in 4th place, ahead of Hendrick Motorsports' Mark Martin (who continues to rest in 10th place one race to the Chase). The overall Top 10 was completed by Denny Hamlin, Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle.
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