- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

LONG POND, Pa. | Kasey Kahne never thought his start to the season was all that bad despite how it looked on paper.

In hindsight, there was something missing, and it took last month’s win in the All-Star race to see it.

Now Kahne is on a roll, riding a wave of momentum from that $1 million payday into a championship-contending run.

He won for the second time in the last three Sprint Cup Series points races in the Pocono 500 on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, and counting his win in the All-Star race, Kahne has been to victory lane three times in the past four events.

And he knows he has his fans to thank after they voted him into the All-Star race, giving him the push he needed to rally his way to ninth in the Sprint Cup Series standings.

“As a driver, I didn’t feel like my confidence was down. But until I actually won this year, the All-Star race, I realized that I was leaving a little bit out there and wasn’t communicating probably like I should have been,” Kahne said. “I definitely credit the fans for getting us into the All-Star race. That gave us the momentum.

“That gave the company the excitement and the momentum that they needed and myself, and that’s when I personally feel like I started communicating better and I’ve done a much better job since.”

Has he ever.

He followed the All-Star win with a victory the next week in the Coca-Cola 600, and although he bobbled last week with a 31st-place finish at Dover, he dominated at Pocono.

Kahne started from the pole, overcame an early pit road penalty that dropped him to 38th and led a race-high 69 of the 200 laps in his Dodge.

“Never. I’ve never had a car that dominant before,” Kahne said. “This one stayed the same all day long. It was so good all day long.”

Brian Vickers was second for his best finish since joining Red Bull Racing at the start of last season, and Denny Hamlin was third to give Toyota two cars in the top three.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth and appeared winded after racing over four hours on the hottest day so far of the NASCAR season. Temperatures hovered around 90 degrees all day, even after a brief rain shower halted action midway through the race.

“It’s pretty hot,” a red-faced Earnhardt said. “It’s going to be a little hotter the next couple months.”

Kubica takes points lead

MONTREAL | Robert Kubica grabbed his first Formula One victory and the series points lead after Lewis Hamilton made a big mistake that took him and world champion Kimi Raikkonen out of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Defending race winner and pole-starter Hamilton slammed his Mercedes McLaren into the rear of Raikkonen’s Ferrari in the pits early in the race, taking out both leaders and giving the 23-year-old Kubica a clear road to victory in his 29th F1 start.

It was a great day for the BMW Sauber team, winning for the first time in its 42 races as an F1 team and sweeping the top two spots with Nick Heidfeld finishing second, well ahead of Red Bull Racing’s David Coulthard in third.

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