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Kahne holds off Gordon to win at Pocono

August 4th, 2013 4:36 pm by DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer

Kahne holds off Gordon to win at Pocono

Kasey Kahne (5) celebrates with his crew in Victory Lane after winning Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa. (AP Photo)

DAN GELSTON, AP Sports Writer

LONG POND, Pa. — Kasey Kahne got the jump on Jeff Gordon off the final restart with two laps left and pulled away to win Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Kahne had the car to beat for the final half of the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race until a late caution bunched up the field. Gordon, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, took the lead and seemed poised to win his first race of the season. After the final caution, Kahne was strong enough this time off the restart in the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Kahne also won at Bristol this season, and Sunday's victory helped solidify his spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

Gordon finished second on his 42nd birthday. Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five.

The top five cars were Chevrolets.

Kahne, Gordon and Earnhardt made it a strong day for Hendrick. Teammate and series points leader Jimmie Johnson was 13th after a blown tire knocked him out of the lead.

Kahne had stretched his lead to almost eight seconds when a caution for debris came out with 12 laps left. Gordon, still winless this season, was strong in the No. 24 and zipped to the lead as he looked to extend his record for career wins at Pocono.

Matt Kenseth spun with four laps left to erase Gordon's lead and set up the thrilling finish. Gordon led again until Kahne ran him down and blasted by his teammate for the win.

So close to the checkered, this loss stung Gordon.

"We had them. We certainly had the position," he said. "I'm pretty disappointed I let him get inside of me on (turn) one."

Kahne also won at Pocono in 2008. He entered Sunday ninth in the points standings and needed a win to make sure he'd at least qualify for a wild-card spot should he fall below 10th place. Kahne was third last week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and seems to be heating up with five races left until the Chase field is set.

Kahne's 16th career win should make him a Chase lock.

Gordon, who has six Pocono victories, finished second last week and has three straight top 10s to also position himself for a spot in the 12-driver field. He had won at Pocono each of the last two seasons. When Gordon leads late at Pocono, he usually wins. Just not this time.

"I've given away a lot more races than I've won," he said.

Johnson, who set a track record in qualifying, again had the dominant car for half the race until he blew a front tire. A week after a slow, final pit stop cost him a win at Indianapolis, Johnson was done in this time by a tire issue that ended his chance to win. He did stretch his points lead to 77 over Clint Bowyer.


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