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Kahne sits eleventh in NASCAR chase for the championship
Eighty-nine points separate positions seven to 14 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup driver standings. With two races remaining before the start of the chase for the championship – NASCAR's 10-race, 12-driver title shootout – those final spots are up for grabs.
In the thick of the contest is Enumclaw driver Kasey Kahne, who sat comfortably in eighth place before a dismal finish at Bristol Motor Speedway that sent him spiraling to eleventh.
“It’s a tight battle," Kahne said. "Any little mistake can definitely cost you a lot of points and hurt your chances. We had a lot bigger point cushion heading into Bristol and just one race later, our points were cut in half. I just try and focus on my racecar. We’re doing the same things that we’ve been doing, trying to get the balance where it needs to be so that we can race and be competitive on race day. Hopefully it works out. You definitely think about it, but there’s nothing that you can do. All you can do is perform and try and run strong on race day. If we can do that the rest will take care of itself."
The other drivers in the thick of things are: Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle, Juan Montoya, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers.
Drivers head to Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday night, Sept. 6. Kahne finished seventh there in the spring and started on the pole and won it in 2006. That was also the last time he made the chase for the championship. He's trying to shrug off the pressure for himself and the No. 9 Budweiser team.
“I think the reason that it gets easier is because you try to relax and work with your team and do what you can there," Kahne said. "It’s all about the team guys and how everyone is stepping up together and communicating together. If we just keep doing that same stuff that we’ve been doing, hopefully it’s enough to make the Chase.”
Kahne has scored 15 top-15 finishes in 24 races this season. His last victory was on the road course at the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway June 21.
Area television coverage begins at 4 p.m. Sunday on ESPN.