KASEY KAHNE ATOP WILD CARD STANDINGS

Junior Records Another Top 5 Finish

Kahne’s fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.ran solidly in the top-five all day and posted yet another great finish. Junior Nation remains in second place in the standings with eight races left until the Chase (photo courtesy: Drew Hallowell, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

Kasey Kahne overcame the ominous threat of rain and the misfortunes of Denny Hamlin to win at Loudon -- Race 18 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

In winning for the second time this season, Kahne gave himself a leg up for a wild-card spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Kahne led a total of 66 of the 301-lap event. The victory is his first career win at Loudon in 17 starts.  His second trip to Victory Lane in 2012 has moved him to 12th in the point standings and places him into the No. 1 Wild Card position.  He now has more victories than any other driver outside the top 10.

“I feel like we’ve been pretty tough all year,” Kahne said. “And it doesn’t get us in the Chase yet, but it definitely helps with a win today and the win in Charlotte. I can’t wait for some of these other tracks coming up.”

Hamlin, who led 151 laps, had the field covered until his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing team changed four tires on Lap 235 while his competitors only changed two. The move dropped Hamlin to 14th in the running order, and pit-stop decision was blamed on miscommunication between the driver and the team.

Undaunted, Hamlin carved his way through the field and passed Clint Bowyer for second with 14 laps to go. While Hamlin continued to advance, he couldn’t close in on leader Kahne, finishing 2.7 seconds behind the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports car.

“I had a great racecar, but you have days like this and it is just part of racing,” said Hamlin. “It is a team sport. It is the driver, the pit crew, the car, the crew chief and all those things put together. We just had a slight miscommunication and that one little mistake magnified to take a win away from us.

“Even though we didn’t get the win and the trophy, we only lost three points. We know when we come back here in a couple of months – when it really counts – we will have something pretty strong.”

Kahne’s fellow Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran solidly in the top-five all day and posted another great finish by coming home fourth in New Hampshire.

“Track position was real important to us,” Earnhardt Jr. said “I don’t know if we had a good enough race car to get back there and race anybody. We’re just happy to run in the top five. We’ve just got to get another notch, you know, and start winning some more races.”

In the point standings, the top four are unchanged with Matt Kenseth, Earnhardt, Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson leading. With his runner-up finish, Hamlin moved up two notches to fifth. He is trailed by Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer and Brad Keselowski.

Carl Edwards is in 11th, 46 behind Keselowski, and Kahne holds down the 12th position, 20 behind Edwards. Kyle Busch resides in13th, two back of Kahne. The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Fast-qualifier Kyle Busch led the opening 66 laps and had the dominant car with only Hamlin having an equal car. But a faulty pit stop followed by a pit-road speeding penalty dropped Busch to 14th in the standings. While he bounced back quickly, he never regained the top spot, ending up in the 16th spot.

Defending Ford 400 race winner and reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Stewart finished 12th in Race 19 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Indianapolis on Sunday, July 29 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

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