Kahne finishes 4th at California Speedway; jumps to fourth in point standings

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Caution That Didn't Appear Proves Costly To Mayfield, No. 19 Dodge Team
Kasey Kahne posted his best finish since his second-place effort at the Allstate 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last August, driving the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger to a fourth-place finish Sunday at California Speedway. The effort propelled Kahne to fourth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup point standings, the first time he's been in the top 10 since the Labor Day race here in 2004, his rookie season at the wheel of the Evernham Motorsports entry. Teammate Jeremy Mayfield was running in the 13th spot and looked to be en route to a top-10 finish when misfortune struck as he entered pit road on Lap 183 for a pit stop during a green-flag cycle. As Mayfield was approaching his pit stall, a car spun through the grass on the front straightaway. Team Director Chris Andrews radioed for Mayfield to continue down pit road without stopping, expecting the incident to bring out the caution. NASCAR elected not to display the yellow and Mayfield had to make another lap before entering pit road once again for the pit stop for fuel and tires. The misfortune cost Mayfield a lap. He restarted 27th, but managed to work his way back up to 23rd during the final 66 laps. Kahne qualified in the 13th spot in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger with a time of 39.084 seconds at 184.219 mph around the two-mile D-shaped track. With the drop of the green flag, Kahne experienced a loose condition with his race car as it entered the corners. He fell outside the top 20, but Team Director Kenny Francis and the No. 9 crew had devised a series of adjustments to remedy the situation. Those adjustments worked and the No. 9 Dodge Charger was turning laps comparable to the leader. Add in sterling pit work by the crew and Kahne had moved to the seventh spot by Lap 82. The adjustments and results continued to be positive with Kahne moving to third by Lap 132. The lone glitch on a pit stop came during the third caution on Lap 197. A lug nut fell off as the tire was being mounted. The crew member responded quickly. He picked up the lug nut, applied and tightened it before moving around to finish the four-tire service. Kahne lost only two spots on the stop. He worked his way back to the third spot by Lap 229 and held the position until the final caution set up a green-white-checkered finish. On the restart, a car cut inside Kahne going into turn one and managed to take the spot at the exit of turn two. In addition to finishing fourth, Kahne also led a lap during the event for a five-point bonus. "That's the best we've run in awhile for a complete race, counting the last half of last year," Kahne said. "I feel pretty good about it. We had great pit stops and the engine ran awesome. It was just a matter of getting a good restart and trying to pass Jimmie (Johnson) there on the last lap, but Carl (Edwards) passed me. That's racing. It was fun. Everything went pretty good. Our Dodge Charger usually runs pretty decent at California Speedway. We'll work on some more things and try to make it more comfortable to drive. In two weeks we're heading to Las Vegas. These are real temperamental cars, so we'll just have to keep working on the Charger. "We got up there about halfway through and kept working on it from there. A couple of good cars fell out and we got a top five out of it. It was a good effort. The guys did a good job in the pits all day. We were way off at the start of the race, but Kenny (Francis, the team director) and the guys made the adjustments to make it better. It feels good to finally get a good finish. I wish we could have won, but we had a top five and that's pretty good right now." Kahne is just 60 points out of first place in the point standings and 21 points out of second. Mayfield posted the 21st quickest lap in the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge Charger with a time of 29.259 seconds at 183.397 mph. A loose handling car had the No. 19 team making its share of adjustments early in the race. The strategy developed by Team Director Chris Andrews and the No. 19 crew worked with a two-tire stop during the second caution putting Mayfield in the top 10 by Lap 92. Additional changes during the next 60 laps kept Mayfield in the top 20, setting the stage for the green-flag pit cycle which started on Lap 180. "Our Dodge Charger was loose at the start of the race, but Chris and the crew made adjustments on the car on each pit stop. We were running in the top 15 just past the halfway mark. We were set for a green-flag pit stop on Lap 183. Just as I started down pit road, a car spun into the grass on the front straight. Chris told me to pass on through, expecting the caution. NASCAR didn't call for the caution, so I had to make another lap and then come in for a green flag stop. We had a top 15 car and the way the guys were making adjustments, we could very well have done even better. It's disappointing when you know you have a car capable of a better finish. We'll take the week off, regroup and head to Las Vegas where we had a good test." Mayfield jumped to 23rd in the point standings. He is 107 points out of 10th.

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