Winning in New Hampshire, on Sunday, was more than a second trip to Victory Lane this season for Kasey Kahne. After the race, the NASCAR driver had his sights set on a return trip to the New England racetrack later this year.
“We’ll be able to look at this track and really have a good game plan going into the Chase race down here,” Kahne said after winning the Lenox Industrial Tools 301, at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “We know other guys are going to run well too, when we come back, so we need to be a little better.”
Kahne currently sits in 12th on the Sprint Cup standings. The important statistic is, however, that he is the only driver in positions 11-20 who has won twice this year. With seven races left before the Chase field is set, Kahne has good reason to be optimistic of his chances of making the 10-race playoff to determine the 2012 Sprint Cup champion.
“We know what we need to work on… what the track did and how it changed,” he said. “The track will be a touch different when we come back, but a lot of the characteristics will be the same.”
The top 10 drivers in the standings automatically are entered in the Chase. The field is augmented by the two drivers with the most season victories in the next 10 positions. The driver with the most points after the 10 races is declared Sprint Cup champion.
As for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 race on Sunday, Kahne led the final 66 laps and held off a charge by Denny Hamlin, who was closing fast on the leader but ran out of race. Hamlin reflected on his race and said coming up short happens in racing at times.
“We had an amazing race car,” he said. “You’re going to have days like this. It’s part of racing.”
Clint Bowyer finished third in the race behind Kahne and Hamlin.
Matt Kenseth leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings with 701 points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 16 points behind the leader and 24 points ahead of Greg Biffle in third.
The Sprint Cup circuit now takes a rare weekend off before the next race. Crown Royal presents the “Your Hero’s Name Here” 400 goes July 29 at the Brickyard, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.