Maybe they should run two races in Atlanta every year. In a season full of disappointments – rainouts, low ratings and attendance, drug scandal – the first Labor Day weekend night race at Atlanta Motor Speedway proved to be a pleasant success. It looked like it would actually be fun to go to. When’s the last time anyone said that about a race in Atlanta? (Or, for that matter, an anything in Atlanta?)
Kasey Kahne won the Pep Boys Auto 500, moving from 11th to 6th in the Chase standings with one race to go until the 12-driver field is set. Kahne was not the only driver who helped himself. Denny Hamlin (6th place) joined Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon in clinching a Chase berth. Juan Pablo Montoya (3rd place) moved one spot up to 8th. And Brian Vickers (7th place) passed Kyle Busch for the 13th spot, right on the Chase bubble. The big losers? Ryan Newman (9th place) tumbled two spots back to 9th, Greg Biffle (10th place) fell three spots back to 11th and Busch (13th place) fell behind Vickers and is now 37 points behind 12th-place Matt Kenseth.
To see the Chase standings, check out the standings in the STATS menu at the top of the page.
Kahne took the lead on a re-start on lap 315 and ran away from Montoya and Kevin Harvick (2nd place) during the final 10 laps to secure his second win of the season. Said Kahne, "I knew Harvick and Montoya would be tough there at the end. We had a little bit better car there for about 10 laps." A longer run – where Harvick was stronger – and Kahne might not have found himself celebrating in victory lane. The second place tied a season-best for Harvick.