Kasey Kahne translated pole position into a race victory in Monday's rain delayed Golden Corral 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kahne's second career Nextel Cup victory was the first for car manufacturer Dodge at the 1.54-mile Atlanta oval in nearly 30 years and vindicated team owner Ray Evernham's decision to stick with the Dodge Charger through the early part of the season.

With the win, Kahne moves into second place in the overall Nextel Cup points table, just 50 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson after finally grabbing the lead away from long time race leader Greg Biffle on lap 246 and never looking back.

Related Articles

Mark Martin emerged as Kahne's closest threat during the closing stages, which coincided with the longest green flag run of the day, starting on lap 268 and continuing until the conclusion of the 325-lap race.

After disposing of Roush teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle, Martin moved on to Kahne's rear bumper with some 15 laps remaining but Kahne simply drove away again and finally crossed the line with nearly two seconds to spare.

After Sunday's washout, Monday dawned grey and cold and remained as such throughout the duration of the race. As expected the green track surface played havoc with the tyre wear in the early stages, and while only Jeremy Mayfield struck the wall with any great force after blowing a tyre there were at least a dozen punctures and/or failures during the race.

Several of those struck by failing rubber recovered to post strong finishes, notably Dale Earnhardt Jr who had to make an unscheduled stop with a little over 100 laps remaining and dropped to 28th before benefiting from the lucky dog pass and then making up a bunch of positions in the final green flag run to cross the line third.

Earnhardt Jr's final run was aided considerably by problems for several of those ahead of him, in particular Kenseth, Jeff Burton and Robby Gordon, all of whom suffered late problems with tyres while on course for top five finishes. Gordon in particular was unlucky, pitting with less than 20 laps to go from a superb third position and dropping to an unrepresentative 28th position.

Behind Earnhardt Jr Jeff Gordon finished strongly to take fourth place from Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard, who gained nearly a dozen places in the final green flag stretch in his #15 DEI Chevrolet.

Kyle Petty gave Petty Enterprises a reason to smile with a fighting eighth place finish, making up for the disappointment of Bobby Labonte's early retirement with engine failure. From fourth place on the grid, Labonte raced into an early lead and was still running strongly in the top five when his Evernham built engine cried enough after just 56 laps, relegating him to 43rd and last place on the final results sheet and putting him and the famous #43 team in real danger of being out of the top 35 in owner points following the next race in Bristol, after which he could face the prospect of having to qualify for each subsequent race on speed.

Veteran Dale Jarrett crossed the line in ninth place after a quiet but clean run in the #88 UPS Ford while rookie Reed Sorensen rounded out the top ten for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Elsewhere, Kenseth rose from 29th to 13th in the final 25 laps after a late stop for fresh rubber while Biffle, who led more than 100 laps through the middle of the race, ran out of fuel on the final lap and fell to 16th. Ryan Newman was an early tyre victim and finished 18th while Jeff Burton's strong run ended in a miserable 25th place.

Defending Atlanta winner Carl Edwards came a cropper early on as he collided with Dave Blaney on pit road and damaged his #99 Roush Ford, leaving him 40th overall while Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick also lost many laps after colliding in turn two early in the race.

Bill Lester ran cleanly all day in a third Bill Davis Racing Dodge to finish 38th in a race that tested even the best drivers to the very limit.