Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MOTORSPORTS NOTEBOOK; Kahne Wins Pole for Banquet 400

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

MOTORSPORTS NOTEBOOK; Kahne Wins Pole for Banquet 400

Article excerpt


KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Once the disappointment of crashing early last week at Dover, Del., subsided, Kasey Kahne changed his mind. Now he thinks he can still win the Chase for the Championship.

Kahne is ninth in the rankings, 182 points behind, heading into Sunday's Banquet 400 at the Kansas Speedway. But he got a running start by winning the pole position at 178.377 mph.

Before leaving Dover last week, Kahne said he was too far behind series leader Jeff Burton to win the Nextel Cup Series championship.

He got a change in attitude a few days later after looking at a remaining schedule that includes five 1.5-mile racetracks in the final eight races. All five of Kahne's wins this year have come at 1.5- or 2-mile speedways.

"I was devastated [at Dover]. I had just hit another car," Kahne said after winning his fifth pole of the year. "I had a chance to think about it. It can be done. It will be tough, but it can be done.

"Things change. You never know what's going to happen."

Another thing helping Kahne's confidence is the particular Dodge Charger that will race this Sunday. That car has raced seven times this year, and he's won the pole with it four times and he's won all five races. As long as he keeps that car in one piece, he will take it back to Texas, Atlanta and Lowe's near Charlotte, N.C. - all speedways where he won earlier this year - during the stretch drive.

"I think we have an all right shot. If we do things like I know we can, like my team has done all year long, this team can definitely come back," he said. "We just need to win and run upfront. I think we can do that. I think these guys can do it, but we've got to start stepping it up. You don't know what's going to happen. As long as we do our job the best we can, we'll be happy about that.

"You never know what's going to happen. It's an up-and-down sport. All the tracks are tracks where we can run in the top five. We'll try to gain back some of the points we've lost."

Scott Riggs, Kahne's teammate, qualified second at 177.936 mph. Jimmie Johnson, another Chase challenger, was third.

The rest of the Chase starters include: Jeff Gordon in 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 12th, Kyle Busch in 13th, Kevin Harvick in 14th, Mark Martin in 19th and Denny Hamlin in 25th.

Two years ago Johnson was more than 200 points behind in the Chase after four races. He rallied to finish second to Kurt Busch by only eight points. He's back in a familiar position during racing's playoffs, playing catch-up from eighth place, down by 136 points.

At the same time, he's learned it's nearly impossible to get through the 10-race Chase without having at least one problem.

"You're going to have trouble, you're going to lose points," Johnson said. …

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