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Kahne goes big in Texas
9 April 2006
Kasey Kahne became the eleventh different winner in eleven Nextel Cup Series races at the Texas Motor Speedway as he translated pole position into a well timed win in Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500.
Saving his equipment sensibly for the majority of the 334-lap blast around the high banked 1.5-mile Texas oval, Kahne switched into high gear for the final 17 lap green flag sprint to the finish, opening a five second advantage over Matt Kenseth by the time the chequered flag waved.
When the ninth caution flag of the afternoon waved on lap 312, Kahne initially appeared to be at something at a disadvantage, his #9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge seeming more suited to longer green flag runs than short blasts. The last yellow was especially ill-timed for Kahne, who had only moved past Tony Stewart for the lead five laps prior to the caution following a lengthy duel with the defending series champion, although it did preclude a fast approaching final round of green flag pitstops.
With all the leading runners now fully fuelled to the finish, Kahne's #9 crew got him off pit road ahead of Stewart but when the green flag waved, Stewart's expected advantage on restarts never materialised, allowing Kahne to slip away into the distance. Driving the same car he used to win pole position and the race at the Atlanta Motor Speedway earlier this year, Kahne cruised to his second perfect weekend of the season leaving those behind to provide the excitement.
Excitement there was, as Matt Kenseth fought past Stewart for second on lap 322 and rookie Denny Hamlin winning a major scrap for fourth as Clint Bowyer's late two tyre pitstop gamble failed to pay off. Bowyer dropped from fourth to eleventh in the final laps before a last lap crash dropped him to 19th.
Bowyer's Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton finished fifth and sixth with Kahne's teammate Scott Riggs an impressive seventh after running as high as third in the laps before the final caution.
Martin Truex Jr's eighth place finish was one of a number of strong rookie performances, the driver of the #1 DEI Chevrolet passing Mark Martin in the closing laps to secure his first top ten finish of the season.
Bobby Labonte completed the top ten, safely putting the #43 Petty Enterprises team back into the top 35 in owner points while Jimmie Johnson managed to hang on to the driver points lead with an eleventh place finish despite dropping as low as 28th when he lost two laps by making a green flag pitstop shortly before a caution in the early stages of the race.
Eight cars were officially listed as out of the event, including Greg Biffle, who dominated the opening laps before getting punted into the back straight wall at full tilt by Kurt Busch, and Biffle's teammate Carl Edwards who also led convincingly before he lost control of his #99 Roush Ford coming off turn two on lap 257 and smacked the inside wall.
The Nextel Cup teams now have a week off for Easter before reconvening at the one –mile Phoenix International Raceway for the second Saturday night spring race in the Arizona desert.
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