Chase format means Kahne in contention

Sunday, September 3, 2006

FONTANA, Calif. -- In the years before the Chase for the Nextel Cup, few would have paid much attention to Kasey Kahne, who was in 11th place entering today's race at California Speedway.

Twenty-five races into a 36-race season and 540 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, Kahne would have been reduced to trying to salvage a mostly lost season with another win or two.

Instead, the third-year NASCAR Nextel Cup star is battling for one of the 10 spots in the field for the 10-race Chase. Two races remain before the playoffs.

"I'm looking [ahead] as far as fourth or fifth place as cars we can catch in these final two races, depending on what they do and depending on what we do," Kahne said.

Going into the Sony HD 500, which will finish under the lights, Kahne is 90 points behind 10th-place Mark Martin.

Kahne also finds himself within 138 points of fourth-place Kyle Busch. In between is the all-star cast of Jeff Gordon, rookie Denny Hamlin, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin.

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