By Lindsey Young
HAMPTON, Ga. Kasey Kahne admits being off the radar a bit may be a good thing, though after winning todays Golden Corral 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race, it might be a while before that happens again.
After a remarkable rookie of the year season two years ago, Kahne was thought to be a shoo-in to compete in last years inaugural Chase for the Championship. However, a slow start to the season soon became a free fall and before long Kahne was an afterthought.
Today, in the race delayed a day by rain at the Atlanta Motor Speedway, Kahne and his Ray Evernham-owned team showed why everything is different. The team qualified on the pole, it had consistently good pit stops all race and Kahne drove a smart race on a day when over-aggressive driving usually netted flat tires. Kahne becomes the first Dodge driver since 1977 (Richard Petty) to win at Atlanta.
Kahne led 85 laps and is now second in points to Jimmie Johnson after four races.
Mark Martin finished second, followed by another pair of resurgent drivers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, while Tony Stewart rounded out the top five.