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Kahne takes crucial win.

Kasey Kahne scored the most important Nextel Cup victory of his young career as he completed a California Speedway weekend sweep in Sunday's Sony HD 500.

Kahne and his Evernham Motorsports team made the correct fuel decision on two consecutive nights at the two-mile California oval, winning the Busch Series race on a fuel gamble and then flipping their fuel strategy in the Cup race and earning the same result.

Sunday's victory couldn't have come at a better time for Kahne, who clawed back 60 points on tenth place in the standings in what the penultimate race before the Chase for the Championship begins. The 26-year old led more than half of the 250-laps and was leading comfortably with 20 laps to go when the final round of 'splash and dash' pitstops began.

Unlike Saturday night, when Kahne stayed out in the final laps and made his fuel last, on this occasion Kahne was among the first drivers to make a late pitstop for a few extra litres of gas. While he then found himself running fifth with just six laps remaining he was able to pick off gamblers Jamie McMurray JJ Yeley and Clint Bowyer with ease and then watch as Yeley and Bowyers' fellow rookie Reed Sorensen ran dry with a lap and a half to go.

Sorensen's late heartbreak gave Kahne a huge lead for the final lap, which he duly reeled off with no worries about fuel at all for his fifth win of the year. Although Sunday's win wasn't enough to push him into the top ten in the points table he now runs just 30 points behind the tenth place driver as opposed to 90 with next Saturday's race at Richmond left to decide who will make the Chase and who will miss out.

After Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth clinched a place in the chase last week, incredibly nobody else was able to secure a Chase berth in Sunday's race, leaving nine drivers battling for eight Chase places at Richmond.

Dale Earnhardt Jr finished second after a strong run, gaining three places in the standings in the process. The driver of the #8 Budweiser Chevrolet now lies sixth in the standings, but just 77 points ahead of Kahne.

Bowyer was one of the few drivers to make their fuel gamble work, finishing a career best third after running on the fringes of the top 20for most of the night but while Bowyer, tenth placed Dale Jarrett and 14th place finisher Casey Mears were all able to eke out their fuel mileage successfully, Sorensen, Yeley and McMurray all ran dry in the final five laps, costing them dearly. Sorensen would be classified 19th with Yeley 20th and McMurray 21st.

A fourth place finish for Carl Edwards wasn't enough to keep him alive in the Chase while Greg Biffle's disappointing 24th place finish also eliminated him from contention.



Related Pictures

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Kasey Kahne, Evernham Motorsports Dodge, Indianapolis 2006. [Pic Credit IMS Media/Steve Snoddy]
Dale Earnhardt Jr, DEI Chevrolet, Indianapolis 2006. [Pic Credit IMS Media/Steve Snoddy]
Clint Bowyer and crew chief Gil Martin at Daytona. [Pic Credit Rusty Jarrett/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)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS, qualifies for second position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Kahne is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate and Pole winner Jeff Gordon, driver of the #5 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, wins the Pole position Saturday, May 2, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in Lincoln, Alabama. Gordon is tenth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS will join him on the front row Sunday. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 2, 2015 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Friday, April 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Kahne is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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