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Jimmie Johnson back on the championship charge, winning Kansas. But credit Carl Edwards for the comeback of the day.

 To the victor goes the checkered flag (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   KANSAS CITY, Kansas
   That Jimmie Johnson versus Carl Edwards championship battle prediction is looking pretty good right now.
   "We've been knocking on the door all year….beat ourselves at times," Johnson said after only his second tour win of the season, and the first since April.
   "We're doing the right things, and this is a huge, huge thing. But there are still six weeks to go."

   Johnson had the car to beat here Sunday and this time he rode that horse all the way to victory in a Kansas 400 filled with strange twists, and a green-white-checkered overtime finish.
   And the biggest twist was probably Edwards' amazing rally to a fifth place finish at Kansas Speedway on a day he probably should have finished 20th, in a car that was ill-handling most of the 3-1/2-hour race.
    That comeback puts Edwards atop the Sprint Cup standings heading this week to Charlotte, N.C., for Saturday night's 500...but by just a point over Kevin Harvick, four points over Johnson, 11 points ahead of Brad Keselowski, and 12 points ahead of Matt Kenseth.


You couldn't ask for more perfect weather than Kansas Speedway enjoyed Sunday (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   Johnson had a car no one could touch, but the green-white-checkered finish made him sweat.
   That late yellow, ironically, was for teammate Jeff Gordon's blown engine. Gordon ran strong early, had a top-three car, but problems midway hurt him, and then a hard bump while racing Tony Stewart apparently pushed the fender in on an oil line, eventually cooking his engine.
   That latest bit of bad luck for Gordon, who finished 34th, probably knocked him out of the title hunt.
   However there are still eight title contenders within 20 points of the lead.  
   Kasey Kahne, who will be Johnson's teammate next season, was Johnson's closest challenger at the end, side-by-side for the restart for the two-lap shootout.
   Johnson got a good jump, but Kahne made a bid the last lap.
   "I had a shot at Jimmie in the third turn but couldn't really get to him," Kahne said. "Jimmie had the car to beat, but my tires were a little fresh. But he took off a little quicker than I expected. And I hit the throttle too aggressively, and Brad was right behind me and pushing. But I didn't have a shot to get to him in the first turn."
   Kahne won't be waiting till next season to get in one of Rick Hendrick's cars; in next week's fuel injection test at Charlotte he'll be running the car Mark Martin has been running this season.

    Even Warren Buffett, here getting a handshake from NASCAR president Mike Helton, was on hand for the Kansas 400. It was an invite from his friends at Mars. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The win was Johnson's 55th career win, his 20th in the playoffs since 2004, far more playoff victories than anyone else in the eight years of the chase.
   Edwards was almost stunned at his good luck: "We were very, very fortunate. We should have finished 15th or 20th. We just put the wrong front-end set up in the car, and early on I knew we were in trouble.
   "But Bob Osborne (his crew chief) made adjustments. That was just amazing. Usually when you get in a situation like that, you can't recover.
   "And we were lucky to get that late yellow and get two tires to make a run up through there.
   "That's two weeks we've had good luck in coming back."
    Perhaps a surprise, perhaps not, was Brad Keselowski, who ran third.
   "This just makes you kick yourself for what happened last week at Dover," Keselowski said. "If we hadn't had problems there we'd probably be leading the standings right now.
   "Yes, Jimmie is going to be tough. But we've got two wild card races, Talladega and Phoenix, and you can't rule anybody out till we run those two races."
   Edwards wasn't the only driver with an ill-handling car. So was Harvick, though he managed to come home sixth. Kyle Busch too didn't have much for his rivals, finishing a disappointed 11th.
   Tony Stewart looked very strong early on, and he was running ninth at the final yellow, when he decided to pit for tires but slid through his pits and had a long stop. He restarted 18th and only made it back to 15th.
   It was a less than memorable afternoon for other title contenders Kurt Busch (last week's Dover winner), Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman.


   And a very nice crowd too, estimated by NASCAR at 82,000 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Mystery "debris" caution with

Mystery "debris" caution with a nearly 6 second lead, after lapping the 22 car - I just want to be the official "debris" supplier of NASCAR, it has to pay big. Then they turned it into a fuel mileage race again. Thank God there was a real caution to get some fuel. Oh, then there was the engine blow up by his team mate to cause the GWC finish. The 48 car was dominant and won in spite of all the "cautions".

Talk about a golden horseshoe, 29, 22 and 99 must be thankful they have one now 'cause the 48 didn't need it. I guess he's still out of it though, he's not leading the Chase after the race. We'll see.....

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