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Atlanta win boosts Kahne

For Kasey Kahne, victory in Sunday night's Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was the watershed moment of his Sprint Cup career.

For one thing, it all but guaranteed Kahne a position in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, jumping him five positions to sixth in the series standings - a sizeable-if-not-comfortable 96 points ahead of 13th-place Brian Vickers, who finished seventh Sunday.

For Kahne, the victim of a late-season fold with back-to-back 40th-place finishes at Michigan and Bristol last year, the win was vindication. For Richard Petty Motorsports, the victory was cause for celebration, all but ensuring a Petty car in the Chase for the first time since NASCAR's playoff format was introduced in 2004.

Kahne beat resurgent Kevin Harvick to the finish line by 1.766secs, after a caution for Clint Bowyer's spin on lap 309 erased a sizeable lead for Harvick, whose car was unbeatable on long runs, but no match for Kahne's over the short haul.

Kahne broke away from Harvick and third-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya after a restart on lap 315 of 325. David Reutimann finished fourth, followed by Mark Martin and Denny Hamlin, who locked himself into the Chase with the sixth-place finish.

“I knew Harvick and Montoya were going to be tough there at the end,” said Kahne, who won for the second time this season and the eleventh time in his career, “But I got 'em. We were really good there for about ten laps.

“We did it, and we did it right there at the end. When we got that restart with eleven to go, I knew we had a chance. This team just stepped up. The pit-stops were awesome all night. The calls from [crew chief] Kenny Francis were perfect. I knew we could go fast for about 15 laps - faster than anybody. After that, I was getting a little bit too loose to hang with Harvick and Montoya.

“But, with eleven laps to go, just getting to the front was what I was thinking I needed to do and, once we did it, everything was perfect from there on out. It was great team effort, something that Richard Petty Motorsports really needed.”

Kahne wasn't the only driver who helped himself immensely. Montoya improved to eighth in the standings, 88 points ahead of Vickers. Martin remained tenth in the standings but widened his advantage over 13th place to 69 points.




Related Pictures

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Kasey Kahne celebrates victory in the Pep Boys Auto 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway  [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 14, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, qualifies for the second position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick will be joined on the front row by Pole winner Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, captures the Pole position, Friday, June 12, 2015, for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kahne will be joined on the front row with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS. Kahne is eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, wins the pole during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway on June 12, 2015 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo Credit:  Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 LiftMaster Chevrolet, stands in the garage area with crew members during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet SS, is introduced Saturday night, May 16, 2015, before the start of the Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Kahne finished in seventh place. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, leads a pack of trucks during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag ahead of Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Dollar General Toyota, to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag ahead of Erik Jones, driver of the #4 Dollar General Toyota, to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina (Photo Credit: Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 15, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Nick Laham/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AAA Insurance Ford, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series SpongeBob SquarePants 400 at Kansas Speedway on May 9, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Friday, May 8, 2015 for Saturday night`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Kahne is ninth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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