Kahne In Eleventh Heaven

Kasey Kahne no doubt has his eye on next month's trip to Lowe's Motor Speedway. After winning two straight races on similar superspeedways in Atlanta and Texas, Kahne most likely is looking forward to the series' next visit to a mile-and-half track.

Kahne became the eleventh different winner in the eleven NEXTEL Cup races held at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon as he scored his second Cup victory of the season in the Samsung/Radio Shack 500.

The third-year driver became the first in Texas history to win from the front row. All three of his career Cup Series wins have come after starting from the pole.

"The final run there was the best the car was all day," said Kahne. "It was a heck of a run there. I wasn't hitting the shifts very good on restarts except at the end."

After a spirited duel with Tony Stewart in the later stages of the race, Kahne was finally able to stay ahead to score the win and keep the Texas streak of different winners alive.

"The car got loose at the start. It took us a while to get going," Kahne said. "It was a heck of a run with Tony there."

Matt Kenseth trailed Kahne across the finish line by 5.2-seconds.

"I was as loose as I could stand it at the end," Kenseth said. "We never had the balance as good as I would like it today, but my crew was still able to get a good finish."

Stewart, who dominated much of the race and led the most laps, settled for third with rookie Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick rounding out the Top 5.

"It was fun racing like that," said Stewart. "Obviously, if there had been 80 laps to go, neither one of us would have been racing each other that way. Definitely, he was better. We weren't. We were extremely loose there at the end."

Hamlin turned in another impressive performance, leading the rookie contenders on the day.

"It was a great afternoon," said Hamlin. "The FedEx Chevrolet was great. I can't say enough for my whole crew. They got me out in front of those guys off pit road every time. Every time I came on pit road, they got me out in front of three or four guys every time which kept us in the top-five all day long and I am very proud of my team."

Jeff Burton, Scott Riggs, Martin Truex, Jr., Mark Martin and Bobby Labonte completed the first ten finishers.

The race was slowed by nine caution flags for 43 laps. Kahne averaged 137.954 mph.

The day's most controversial caution came on lap 92 when Greg Biffle, who had dominated the early part of the race and looked like he had a solid shot at repeating his Texas win of a year ago, got hit from behind by Kurt Busch on the backstretch.

Biffle's Roush Racing Ford mad eheavy contact with the third turn wall, actually causing a red flag as safety crews repaired the SAFER barrier damaged from the impact.

"I clearly was in front of him and he just didn't let off the accelerator," Biffle said. "He just ran into the back of me and put me into the fence. He didn't want to give and take. If he doesn't want to give and take on the race track, I won't either."

The front of Busch's car, who had won Saturday's Busch race at Texas, was also severely damaged. Busch continued but wound up 34th in the final standings.

"I don't know what he was doing, I was a lapped car trying to get out of the way," Busch said. "I don't know why he couldn't pass the 21, I was just trying to get out of the way."

It wasn't a particularly good day for Jimmie Johnson, who battled an ill handling car most of the day but still managed to come home eleventh. That was good enough for Johnson to maintain the series point lead with Kenseth now second only 15 behind.

Kahne, Martin and Stewart round out the Top 5.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now takes the Easter weekend off before returning to action at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, April 22.

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