- The Washington Times - Monday, September 7, 2009

HAMPTON, Ga. | Kasey Kahne gave himself a huge boost in the Chase for the Championship with a victory Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Kahne jumped from 11th to sixth in the Sprint Cup standings with the victory, allowing him to breathe a little easier going into next weekend’s race at Richmond, which will set the 12-driver field for the season-ending playoff.

Kevin Harvick, who won the Nationwide race Saturday night, was in position for a weekend double until teammate Clint Bowyer spun with 15 laps to go, bringing out the final caution of the night. Kahne got Harvick on the restart and pulled away to an easy 1.766-second win.

Harvick held on for second, matching his best performance in a disappointing season. Juan Pablo Montoya finished third and solidified his odds of making the Chase for the first time.

“We did it right at the end,” Kahne said. “We had an unbelievable car throughout the race. I think Kevin was the best on the long runs. We did it at the end.”

Denny Hamlin became the fourth driver to clinch a spot in the Chase with a sixth-place showing. Tony Stewart, three-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon are in as well.

Kahne is feeling a lot better about his chances, too.

“I knew Harvick and Montoya were going to be really tough there at the end,” Kahne said. “We just got them. We had a really good car for about 10 laps.”

The inaugural Labor Day race weekend and Atlanta Motor Speedway’s first scheduled night race combined to boost attendance and a stronger demand for tickets.

“It’s a buzz like we haven’t seen around here for a long time,” Atlanta Motor Speedway president Ed Clark said.

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