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Kahne puts Red Bull into victory lane

That left Brad Keselowski minding the store for four laps ahead of Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton and Tony Stewart. Keselowski came in on lap 299 which put him a lap down, and handed the lead to Kahne who was over a second ahead of Edwards. Could Carl do anything about the #4 in the remaining 14 laps? He gave it a decent try and closed to under eight-tenths, but then Kahne simply pushed a bit harder and eked out the lead once more. Try as he might, Edwards had to concede he didn't have enough to get back in front in the remaining time - and sure enough, the end of lap 312 saw the chequered flag out for Kahne.

"We put the whole race together today and then had a little luck," said a happy Kahne in victory lane. "Everything that falls into winning a race, we had it today."

The win was Kahne's 12th in Cup racing in 287 starts, his first at Phoenix and also his first in 81 races, the last coming at Atlanta in September 2009 for Richard Petty Motorsports. It's a fitting way to say farewell to Red Bull Racing: regardless of what happens to the team when the drinks company ends its funding of the outfit at the end of the year, Kahne himself is definitely moving on and will be at the wheel of the Hendrick Motorsports #5 car in 2012 taking over from Mark Martin.

Edwards finished in second, and admitted that it was a bit disappointing having to play safe and leave Kahne with the win. "I felt that the strategy we went with, we had to do it that way," he insisted. "To pit early with him and leave the opportunity to be a lap down and mired back in the field if there were a restart ... I believe Bob did the right thing.

"I would have loved to won this race for sure. That is what we all do this for," he confessed. "I think we did a really good job today. I am not certain if we had the fastest car, but we performed well with it and got a good result."

Behind Edwards, Stewart battled hard with Jeff Burton to reclaim third place in the final laps. "It just looked like he got a little tight and I was able to get rotated in the centre and get underneath him," said Stewart of the pass. "But I don't think he pushed the issue really hard; I think he raced us with respect there and so I appreciate that."

It might only have been a single position, but the extra point that it gave together with the bonus point for leading most laps of the day (160 of the 312 race distance) meant that he tied Edwards for championship points on the day. They came into Phoenix three points apart; they would leave in exactly the same situation.

"Every point counts right now," agreed Stewart. "That's why we raced Carl so hard, and Kasey so hard. We led enough laps to lead the most laps today so we're going for every single point we can get right now."

It means that it all comes down to one final race to decide the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion. And for the first time, we can say definitively that the new champion will be either Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart, as everyone else is now mathematically eliminated from contention: the only other Chase driver who even finished in the top ten at Phoenix was Ryan Newman in fifth, but he had long ago fallen out of reach of the title, as had Denny Hamlin who finished Sunday's race in 12th.

But it was a landmark day for Jimmie Johnson, who finished in 14th place after at one point describing the #48 as "scary, scary loose." Although he improved in the second half of the race, he still ended up 68pts off Edwards in the standings and now no longer has any hopes of retaining his title for a six consecutive season.

by Andrew Lewin



Related Pictures

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Tony Stewart leads fellow Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards during the Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]
The #4 Red Bull Racing Team celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Kobalt Tools 500 on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. [Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Kasey Kahne celebrates winning the 24th Annual Kobalt Tools 500, his 12th victory in 287 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races. Last win was Sept. 6, 2009 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. This breaks an 81-race winless streak. [Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR]
Brian Scott. (Picture Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s Chevrolet SS, holds his daughter, Lydia Sunday, November 22, 2015 before final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Johnson and other Jeff Gordon teammates at Hendrick Motorsports wore tribute hats to honor the retiring Chevy driver prior to the start of the race. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Harvick finishes as the runner-up in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Defending Sprint Cup Champion Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, races to a second place finish, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS finishes in sixth place, and Martin Truex, Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Visser Precision finishes in twelfth place Sunday, November 22, 2015 in the final race of the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. This Chevrolet drivers finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th (respectively) in the Chase of the Cup Championship. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Series championship contenders Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, take part in pre-race ceremonies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 AXALTA Chevrolet, and Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row/Denver Mattress Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with a burnout after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates winning the series championship and the race with his team after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Crispy Toyota, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the series championship and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 22, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, lead the field on the first lap of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #33 Rheem Chevrolet, leads Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Crest Chevrolet, during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Crest Chevrolet, races to the finish line to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 21, 2015 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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T - Unregistered

November 14, 2011 10:52 PM

Hope Tony pulls it off -4 wins from 9 races versus none for 'Cousin' Carl. Says a lot about Nascars scoring system... Kenseth Vs Vickers - Most drivers thought it was retaliation, Vickers counter claimed Kenseth brake tested him and Nascar ignored the clash completely ! No wonder kyle Busch fans where protesting outside Nascars HQ



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