Kahne takes control, seizes fourth victory

Pole-sitter gets behind early but roars back to claim rain-shortened race at Michigan

Nascar Nextel Cup

June 19, 2006|By ED HINTON | ED HINTON,ORLANDO SENTINEL

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Kasey Kahne had been winning big on his newfound patience this year. Yesterday, he spiked it with some of his old impatience, and won again.

Kahne started on the pole in the 3M Performance 400 but fell back to 38th, one lap down, with an early overheating problem caused by debris on the grille of his Dodge.

With a methodical sense of urgency, he worked his way back to regain the lead just past the halfway point. While he was up front, rain shortened the race from 200 to 129 laps, and left him in Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway.

For Kahne, 26, it was the fourth win this season, the most by any driver on the Nextel Cup series.

"We barely got one last year, and couldn't get one in '04," Kahne recalled of his heralded but troubled first two years in NASCAR's top series. "To say we'd have four wins and four poles [after only 15 races in the 36-race schedule] would have been a tough thing to think was for real, but it is."

The difference, Kahne kept saying as he roared to three wins this spring, is patience - working through setbacks without trying to overdrive his car and sometimes crashing.

But after this win, he spoke of a hybrid temperament.

"You do need patience on these type [intermediate-size] tracks," he said. "The air is such a big deal and if you put your car in the wrong spot against another car, or in certain areas in the corners, you can spin yourself out in a second.

"But at the same time, we needed to charge up there. We knew the rain was coming. I knew it would be sometime around Lap 100. We did all we could to pass cars.

"I think I was four-wide at one time, and three-wide another time. My spotter said, `That wasn't being patient.' I was like, `Well, it was open. I really couldn't tell it was four-wide.' It worked out, and we're just happy to be in Victory Lane."

Carl Edwards, who finished second in a Ford, was frustrated because the rain robbed him of a chance to contest the matter further with Kahne. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was third in a Chevrolet.

"We had a great car; we just didn't need the rain at the end," Edwards said. "Or we needed a better weather man up on our [pit] box, because we just did not play it quite right.

"There at the end, Kasey was a little bit tighter and he could go on that restart [the final one, on Lap 116]."

Rookie Reed Sorensen had slipped into the lead during that caution, but Kahne took the lead one lap after the restart and was never headed.

"I needed about 10-12 more [dry] laps to be able to catch him, and it just didn't work out," Edwards said.

Ed Hinton writes for the Orlando Sentinel.

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