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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 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet, leads during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Ty Dillon with his team owner and grandfaster Richard Childress at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 7 2014. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Hellmann`s Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane with Jared Fogle of Subway after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Firecracker 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 4, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillionteachers.Com Chevrolet SS qualified 3rd Thursday, May 22, 2014 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. Kahne is 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Time Warner Cable Chevrolet, leads Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 17, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet SS won Saturday, May 10, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Teammates Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillonteachers.Com Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. Gordon continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevrolet)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, May 10, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Teammates Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillonteachers.Com Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. Gordon continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevrolet)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Coatings Chevrolet SS celebrates his win Saturday, May 10, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. Teammates Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance/Thankamillonteachers.Com Chevrolet SS finished 3rd. Gordon continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevrolet)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS finished 1st, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS finished 37th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Harvick  is 22nd, Kahne is 23rd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS finished 3rd.(Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the #17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford tangle during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles` Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on April 12, 2014 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, is hit by Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, as he pulls into his pit box during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on March 30, 2014 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS finished 8th and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 24th Sunday, March 16, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Kahne is 11th, Earnhardt, Jr. is 2nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Christa L. Thomas for Chevrolet)
Kasey Kahne, Jr., driver of the NASCAR Sprint Cup #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS qualified 10th Friday, March 14, 2014 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Kahne is 15th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo Credit: HHP/Garry Eller for Chevrolet)
Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Mountain Dew Kickstart Chevrolet, leads Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 9, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images)

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