Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kahne Snaps Losing Streak

Kasey Kahne won at Phoenix International Raceway, snapping an 81-race winless streak.  Kahne was not a factor during most of the race, but after solid pit strategy by crew chief Kenny Francis, he found himself in the lead with 14 laps to go.  Kahne has come on strong late in the season, and has been a threat to win on multiple occasions.  Kahne will be leaving Red Bull Racing at the end of the season to join Hendrick Motorsports, and he has said that he wanted to win before his time a Red Bull was up.  This was most likely Red Bull's last win in NASCAR, as the team is pulling out of the sport at season's end.

Kasey Kahne broke an 81-race winless streak with his win at PIR (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 Points leader Carl Edwards came into the day with a three-point lead over Tony Stewart.  After his second place finish, Edwards is still three points ahead of Stewart.  Stewart, who led 160 laps, finished third.  Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman rounded out the Top 5.  A.J. Allmendinger finished sixth, after his pit crew was swapped out midway during the race with David Ragan's.  Positions 7-10 were held by David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer.

Carl Edwards races Tony Stewart.  They are 1-2 in the standings (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 Chase drivers Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick finished 12th, 14th, 18th, and 19th, respectively.  Kurt Busch finished 22nd, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 24th.  Jeff Gordon lost his brakes early, and limped home to a 32nd place finish.  Matt Kenseth was blatantly wrecked by Brian Vickers, and finished 34th.  Kyle Busch's horrendous week continued during the race.  He blew an engine on lap 188, and finished 36th.

Carl Edwards, left, and Tony Stewart in the PIR Media Center (Photo courtesy Getty Images)
 The points picture did not change at all after Phoenix.  Because Tony Stewart led the most laps, he and Carl Edwards stayed just three points apart.  Now, Edwards and Stewart are the only drivers who are mathematically eligible to win the Championship.  Here are the unofficial points, courtesy of

Following the Kobalt Tools 500, the Championship picture is tight heading into Homestead.  There is only one more race to crown our Champion, and Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are going to take it down to the last lap in the Ford 400.  Edwards won at Homestead last year, and I'm going to pick him to win the title this year.  But only after the checkered flag falls will we know who will be Champion.  The last race of the season is upon us, and you couldn't ask for a better championship battle.  Tune in next week, when Carl Edwards or Tony Stewart will hoist the Sprint Cup Trophy.

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