Is Kahne Able: Kasey goes for repeat at Atlanta

Staff Report - NASCAR Wire Service Friday, Feb 27 1426

Kasey Kahne was in desperation mode at Atlanta Motor Speedway last August.

Sitting in 18th on the Chase Grid - 33 points below the 16th-place cut off line - the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports driver needed a win to make NASCAR's playoffs.

Kahne came through.

He seized the lead with two laps remaining, cruising to Victory Lane, and more importantly, a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“There won't be as much pressure on us for a while now, I guess,” Kahne said after the race. “Just to make it, I mean, that's just such a – it was winding down, we were – I don't know. I feel like making The Chase, there's a lot of pressure and you don't really see that again until probably late in The Chase.”

Kahne faces less stress heading into Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (1 p.m. ET on FOX) at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ first March visit to the Georgia track since 2010.

He still has 25 races left before the Chase opener on Sept. 20 at Chicagoland.

Atlanta Motor Speedway has been kind to Kahne during his NSCS career. The 12-year veteran owns three wins at the 1.5-mile track with seven top fives, nine top 10s and two Coors Light Pole Awards.

Not the only driver with Peach State success, Kahne will face stout competition from Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Gordon leads all active full-time drivers with five AMS wins, while Johnson’s three victories tie Kahne and three other drivers for third.

“I love racing at Atlanta. I won my first ever [XFINITY] Series race there and it was also the site of my very first Sprint Cup Series start more than 22 years ago,” Gordon said. “We’ve won races and clinched championships there. Atlanta Motor Speedway holds a special place in my heart.”