Kasey Kahne has spent much of this NASCAR season hanging around the fringes of the Chase for the Cup standings.
In his first year with Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne started the year slowly, then picked up momentum with a midseason hot streak. He made the Chase comfortably, albeit in one of the two wild-card spots.
Now, Kahne likes where this season has brought him, not on the fringes, but in good position to contend for his first Cup championship.
“We have kind of slowly made ground all season long since about the seventh race,” said Kahne, who starts sixth in today’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at Loudon, N.H. “We made progress and have gotten closer.”
Kahne is fifth in the points after finishing third last week in the Chase’s first race at Chicago. He also has plenty of reason to feel optimistic at New Hampshire. He won the July race in Loudon, his second victory of the season after Charlotte in May.
As Kahne struggled to find his way at Hendrick, he didn’t finish any higher than 14th through the season’s first six races. He then reeled off a string of seven consecutive top-10s. His victory at New Hampshire in Loudon solidified his spot as a Chase wild-card entrant and he never let go.
Rookie Austin Dillon took advantage of misfortune by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Elliott Sadler to win the Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway at Sparta, Ky.
Sam Hornish Jr. was second, followed by Brendan Gaughan, Drew Herring and Sadler, who reclaimed the season points lead from Stenhouse.
Dillon seemed destined for a runner-up run behind Sadler, who got an opening when Stenhouse collided with Eric McClure on pit road on lap 33. That essentially handed first place to Sadler, and he began pulling away in pursuit of his fifth win this season. But Sadler encountered steering issues with 50 laps left and subsequent pit stops for corrections ultimately yielded the lead to his Richard Childress Racing teammate.
John Force won the Traxxas Nitro Shootout in the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals at Ennis, Texas, beating Ron Capps to take the $100,000 top prize in the Funny Car bonus event.
The 63-year-old Force had a run of 4.218 seconds at 296.57 mph in his Ford Mustang. Capps finished in 4.223 at 296.50 in a Dodge Charger. Force beat Jack Beckman and Jeff Arend to advance to the final.