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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 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS, races to an eighth place finish with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS who finished in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Alan Marler for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet, leads Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 2, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, races to his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career win with a victory lap and checkered flag, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  (Photo by Gregg Ellman for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory with a wave of the chequered flag Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Garry Eller for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe’s/Superman Chevrolet SS, celebrates his 77th career victory, Sunday, March 20, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California. (Photo by Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates after taking the chequered flag during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s / Superman Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 20, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Chevrolet, gets into his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway on March 18, 2016 in Fontana, California. (Photo Credit: Photo by Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)

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