June 21, 2006

Racing Reporter

Kahne Gets Rain-Shortened Michigan Win

Kasey Kahne got some help from Mother Nature Sunday as he won the 3M Performance 400 Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway.

The race, scheduled for 200 laps, 400 miles over the two-mile track, was called after 129 laps, when strong thunderstorms moved in on the area.

It was Kahne's fourth victory of the season in his No. 9 Ray Evernham Dodge. He won races earlier in he season at Lowe's, Atlanta and Texas but this time, he didn't have to go the distance.

Kahne, who started on the pole, was a victim of some bad luck early in the race when some paper stuck to his grill and he had to pit under green, losing a lap while his crew removed the debris.

He got the lap back on the next caution, however, and used pit strategy and a fast race car to get back to the front.

He had raced his way to second on a restart on Lap 117, behind the leader, Reed Sorenson.

When the green flew, Kahne quickly powered to the front.

Six laps later, the caution and then the red flag flew as rain - which had been a factor all day - moved over the speedway. Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr., both who had led at different points during the race, were second and third, respectively, behind Kahne at that point.

Asked if he felt he would have won if the race had gone all 400 miles, Kahne said, "I know we would have challenged for it. I know Carl, Greg, the Hendrick cars were good. There were a few of them that were really good and we were one of them."

Tony Stewart was hopping mad in the garage area after Jeff Green nudged Stewart's car on lap 23, sending him hard into the outside wall. Stewart and his crew were able to repair the car, but he completed only 58 laps and wound up finishing 41st.

Part-time Busch Series driver David Gilliland stunned the racing world with his first career victory in the Meijer 300, Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway, in only his seventh series start.

His win in itself was spectacular, but what made it even bigger was that he became the first non-Busch Series driver to win a race this season. All of the previous 15 races have been won by Cup regulars.

The Chino, CA native called his win a "big bite," but said he has bigger dreams of someday racing in the Nextel Cup Series, therefore he had no regrets of having to race against several Cup drivers during Saturday's race.

"That's where I want to be," he said. "To be able to do it you're going to have to race against them, and beat them. We did it tonight."

He drove the unsponsored No. 84 Clay Andrews Racing Chevrolet. Like another David of another time, Gilliland took on NASCAR's Goliaths and came out the victor. Crew chief Billy Wilburn, who guided NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace to numerous Cup Series wins in the past, never lost hope for a win even though his driver was forced to restart from the 19th spot early in the race due to a bad pit stop.

The Busch and Truck teams will be at Milwaukee, while the Nextel Cup teams travel west to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma CA, for their first road course race of the season.

Racing Trivia Question: When will Toyota begin fielding Nextel Cup cars?

Last Week's Racing Trivia Question: Burney Lamar is a new driver in the Busch Series. Which team does he drive for? He drives the No. 77 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet.

You may read additional racing stories at www.race500.com.

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