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Kenseth holds off Kahne for Sprint Cup win at Bristol

Matt Kenseth’s victory in Saturday’s night race is his fifth of 2013, most in Sprint Cup this season, and clinched at least a wild card berth in the Chase for the Championship with two races left.

Getty Images

Matt Kenseth’s victory in Saturday’s night race is his fifth of 2013, most in Sprint Cup this season, and clinched at least a wild card berth in the Chase for the Championship with two races left.

BRISTOL. Tenn. — Kasey Kahne was fed up with all of Joe Gibbs Racing by the time contact with Matt Kenseth ended his race this month at Watkins Glen.

It was the fourth time a Joe Gibbs Racing driver had wrecked him, and he took to Twitter to voice his displeasure: "Headed to Joe Gibbs Racing to talk to whoever will come out front."

But when he had his chance Saturday night to right all those wrongs, Kahne passed.

A clean racer to his core, he trailed Kenseth for a dozen laps around Bristol Motor Speedway, trying every which way possible to pass him without wrecking Kenseth and failing. The result was Kenseth hanging on to take the Irwin Tools Night Race, his Sprint Cup-leading fifth win of the season.

"I don't know," Kahne said, sighing, after finishing second. "I just … I think at the end of the day, I just don't wreck people."

It was the third time this season Kahne was second to Kenseth, who clinched at least a wild card berth in the Chase for the Championship and would have the top seed for the 10-race playoffs if the field were set today.

Points leader Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer are the others who have locked up berths.

Kahne, meanwhile, still hopes just to make it into the Chase. With two wins, he is in pretty good shape, but he is eighth in the standings with two races remaining to set the 12-driver field.

After Kahne passed Juan Montoya for second, he set his sights on Kenseth and tried numerous times over the final dozen laps to make the pass but never could make it stick. He went for the bump and run on the last lap and missed.

"I had a better car. I just couldn't clear him," Kahne said.

Montoya, who learned two weeks ago he won't be brought back to Chip Ganassi Racing next season, was third. Though he could use a win, especially on an oval to prove he belongs in NASCAR, he said he was pleased with the result, especially because he came back from an early speeding penalty.

"To be honest with you, where we are with the team and the result, it's pretty good," he said.

Brian Vickers was fourth, followed by Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Jeff Gordon.

Tampa's Aric Almirola was 15th, and David Reutimann of Zephyrhills finished 29th, 17 laps down. Kyle Busch, who sought to match his 2010 feat by sweeping all three NASCAR races over the weekend, finished 11th.

Sprint Cup points

After 24 of 36 races. The top 10 in points plus two wild cards after 26 races make the Chase for the Championship. An asterisk (*) designates wild card leaders; (^) means driver clinched a spot:

Driver Pts. Back

^Jimmie Johnson 821—

^Clint Bowyer 803 18

Carl Edwards 768 53

Kevin Harvick 760 61

Kyle Busch 739 82

^Matt Kenseth 736 85

Dale Earnhardt Jr. 714 107

Kasey Kahne 701 120

Greg Biffle 698 123

Joey Logano 685 136

Brad Keselowski 681 140

Kurt Busch 679 142

Jeff Gordon 674 147

Martin Truex* 663 158

Ryan Newman* 659 162

Note: Points unofficial; NASCAR posts official results Monday

Gearhead stats

Winner's average speed: 90.279 mph

Time of race: 2 hours, 57 minutes, 7 seconds

Margin of victory: 0.188 seconds

Caution flags: 11 for 74 laps

Lead changes: 16 among nine drivers

Lap leaders: Hamlin 1-22; Ku.Busch 23-76; Edwards 77-92; Truex 93; Earnhardt Jr. 94-125; Bowyer 126-175; Edwards 176-178; Truex 179; Edwards 180-235; Kenseth 236-258; Hamlin 259; Menard 260-322; Edwards 323-335; Menard 336; Harvick 337-343; Edwards 344-374; Kenseth 375-500

Up next

Advocare 500, 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1,

Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Ga. TV: ESPN

Kenseth holds off Kahne for Sprint Cup win at Bristol 08/24/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 25, 2013 12:35am]
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