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Kasey Kahne wins at Atlanta...but the crowd -- what a crowd!

  Kasey Kahne celebrating. And he got a great pit stop at the end of four-hour race to get key position for the final 11-lap sprint (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Great race, great crowd. So maybe NASCAR has finally found an answer for those Labor Day blues….Atlanta Motor Speedway.
   Kasey Kahne took advantage of a late caution, for Clint Bowyer's spin, to trip up surprisingly strong Kevin Harvick and also surprising Juan Pablo Montoya and win Sunday night's Atlanta Pep Boys 500 in front of a crowd of over 100,000.
   The win comes at a perfect time for Kahne, who had fallen to 11th in the Sprint Cup standings after a bad night at Bristol.
   The top 12 men in the standings after next Saturday night's Richmond 400 will make NASCAR's championship playoffs, which begin the following week at Loudon, N.H. Two men still on the outside looking at getting in are Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch. Busch finished 13th and goes to Richmond 14th in the standings.
   "We did it, and we did it right at the end, with 11 to go," Kahne said. "To see a crowd like this in Atlanta, it's been a long time since we've seen this."
     "This is big for everyone," Harvick said, after nearly breaking his two-year losing streak. "We had a great car on the long run. Kasey was great on the short runs…and it came down to a short run at the end."
   "It was awesome. I thought I'd get Kevin with two to go, but I got sideways down in three," Montoya said. And he moved up to eighth in the standings.
  it wasn't a great night for some chase title contenders. Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers both broke axles; Johnson struggled in 36th, after losing three laps for repairs. Vickers however managed to change his axle on pit road without losing a lap, and he wound up seventh. Kurt Busch crashed and the DNF left him 38th. Carl Edwards lost 23 laps for repairs to a broken oil cooler and finished 37th.
  Kyle Busch had an up-and-down night, rallying at one point, but then fading to 13th. That leaves him in precarious shape at Richmond -- he's 37 points below the playoff cut.
  Erik Darnell finished 30th in his Cup debut; Bobby Labonte, the man who lost that ride to Darnell, finished 18th with his new team, that team's best finish since March.
  Kahne, with the win, made the biggest move up in the standings, five spots to sixth.

Atlanta Motor Speedway's Pep Boys 500




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