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NASCAR NOTES: Kahne wins as wild card race tightens

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Photo Credits: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images Photo Credits: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
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Kasey Kahne's victory in last Sunday's Lenox Industrial Tools 301 might have seemed like a yawner, but it sure did tighten up the battle for NASCAR's two wild-card spots in the postseason Chase.

The victory put the young Hendrick Motorsports driver in a good position in the wild card race. With two wins and seven races to go, Kahne is the only driver with more than one win who is not in the Top 10.

"I feel good about where we're at now," said Kahne after Sunday's event. "We just have to stay consistent, stay after it, and keep putting ourselves in position to win a couple more races."

Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano each have one win and are making their presence known in the wild-card battle. So, does a second victory give Kahne a secure feeling going forward?

"You probably never have enough wins," Kahne said. "I think three would put you in a real good spot. Two helps, but three would put you in a real good spot."

Kahne's competitors don't feel that two wins will take any pressure off anyone in the wild-card battle.

"When I look at those wild-card guys that are running - they have to win their way in," said third-place finisher Clint Bowyer.

A single win or a single point can make or break a team's season. At this point, Carl Edwards is sitting in 11th place in the standings but does not have a win. A win would certainly change things for his team. However, there are several challenging racetracks to go, and anyone can make a comeback.

"It's never too early to worry about points," continued Bowyer. "We're talking about points in Daytona. The almighty point is so important to making that Chase."

In fact, some drivers still believe that teams that have not visited Victory Lane yet can still capture a wild-card berth before the last race in Richmond in September.

"They always have chances to win races," chimed in Sunday's runner-up Denny Hamlin. "With our format, you know, all you need to do is win races."

Aside from the teams with one win that are outside the Top 10 in points, many feel that a driver like Jeff Gordon can still get on a roll and make the postseason.

"I still think right now, Jeff Gordon is another team you're not going to count out until it's two races to go or one race to go and he hasn't got a win," continued Hamlin.

So, Kahne's victory might have been a big momentum builder for the final sprint to the finish of the regular season, still, there are several other drivers who have not given up hope of making a late-season run and capturing the wild-card position. Over the next few weeks, it might be more interesting to keep an eye on the teams outside the Top 10. That's where the real racing will be taking place.

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