Kahne earns first victory -- and Chase berth -- with thrilling finish RELATED: Complete results " Updated standings " Current Chase Grid HAMPTON, Ga. -- It was Tony Stewart's return to racing that dominated the headlines before Sunday night's Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway , but it was Kasey Kahne who stole the show -- and a berth in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . In a race that went 10 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 325 laps, Kahne surged past Matt Kenseth on the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish to win for the first time this year and the third time at the 1.54-mile speedway. Kenseth finished second and clinched a Chase spot on points, leaving just two of 16 positions in NASCAR's 10-race playoff available in Saturday's regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway . After streaking into the lead on a restart with 24 laps left, Kahne held the top spot until a caution for a fracas between Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. slowed the field with less than two laps left. On the first attempt at overtime, a multicar wreck in Turn 1 wiped out the dominant car of polesitter Kevin Harvick, requiring a second attempt at a two-lap shootout. With four fresh tires to Kenseth's two, Kahne overtook the No. 20 Toyota after he and Kenseth battled for a lap after the restart and pulled away to win the 17th race of his career by .574 seconds. "We were all over the place during the race, but the guys stayed with me and worked hard," Kahne said. "On those restarts -- I didn't know what would happen, because I had great restarts all night, and I struggle with restarts a lot. "That's big, because that is one of the things you have to be good at, and it worked really well tonight." It also took a huge weight off Kahne's shoulders, as the end of the regular season approached. "Yeah, we are locked in, and I hate that it comes down to this Atlanta or Richmond just about every year for me," Kahne said of the pressure to make the Chase. "Sometimes we are in, sometimes we are out. But thankful that now at HMS ( Hendrick Motorsports ), I've been in all three years now. We have the pressure all the way to Richmond, but we made it again--thankful for that." Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards . Danica Patrick finished sixth, beating by four positions the best previous finish by a female driver at Atlanta (Janet Guthrie was 10th in 1978). The race that turned the season around for Kahne provided little solace for Stewart. Starting a Cup race for the first time since his involvement in the fatal sprint car accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr. on Aug. 9 at Canandaigua (N.Y.) Speedway, Stewart charged forward from his 12th-place starting position and ran as high as fourth in the early going. But Stewart's race came undone moments after a restart on Lap 123, when Kyle Busch's Toyota pinched Stewart's Chevy into the outside wall off Turn 2, significantly damaging both cars. On Lap 160 Matt Kenseth, then the leader, passed Stewart to put the No. 14 a lap down. Twelve laps later, a blown right front tire sent Stewart hard into the Turn 2 wall, forcing him to the garage and out of the race. Credited with a 41st-place finish, Stewart has one more chance—on Saturday at Richmond—to take advantage of a NASCAR dispensation that kept him eligible for the Chase. Having missed three races, Stewart must win at the .75-mile short track to qualify for NASCAR's 10-race playoff. After exiting his car, Stewart declined requests for interviews, but crew chief Chad Johnston spoke to reporters in the garage. "I went into today with some pretty high hopes of finishing well and possibly coming out of here with a win, but it just didn't work out in our favor," Johnston said. "We got into a little trouble with the 18 (Busch) and got into the outside wall, knocked the toe out of it, and a lot of heavy right side damage. "We were just trying to fix that and salvage what we could out of the day but then we blew a right front there right before that caution came out." If Stewart had issues on the track, so did one prominent driver on the Chase bubble. The shifter on Clint Bowyer' s No. 15 Toyota broke, preventing him from getting the car into high gear. Bowyer lost 22 laps in the garage as his team made repairs. He finished 38th, leaving his chances to make the Chase on points in dire jeopardy. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news WATCH: Latest NASCAR video PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
An inside look at where the victory vehicles go and some stories about the cars Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See all the cars featured HAMPTON, Ga. – Did you see the car, the Team Penske No. 22 car, the one that won last week's Daytona 500 ? It was covered in confetti and on display at Daytona International Speedway 's Daytona Experience, less than 24 hours after Joey Logano whipped it into Victory Lane after the biggest single race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Logano and crew chief Todd Gordon and team owner Roger Penske and assorted crewmen and personnel stood by the car on Monday. Photos were taken. The yellow Ford that carried Logano to his first Daytona 500 victory did not go back to the team’s headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina. Gordon and his team can't refurbish it, shine it up and roll it back out of the hauler at Talladega, the season's second restrictor-plate race. Or take it back to Daytona in July, or Talladega in October. RELATED: Logano wins the 2015 Daytona 500 "I wanted to change out the seat insert, but they said no, because it had confetti on it. You have to leave it just as it is," Gordon said Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway , site of last weekend's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 . Since 1996, when Daytona USA officially opened, winning Daytona 500 entries have been put on display there for one year. Teams are financially compensated for the loss of use of the car. According to most crew chiefs interviewed, the cars evolve to such a degree that they have aged out by the time teams regain possession of them a year later. "I would say by that point … it's probably not going to be current to what we've got going on," Gordon said. "When we get the car back, we'll look at where we are chassis-wise. We possibly could re-use the chassis, but (not) body-wise. "I'd say that thing's going to be a museum piece (when we get it back). It did win the Daytona 500 ." While evolutionary changes often lessen the likelihood that a winning Daytona 500 entry could see more on-track action, opportunities have also been impacted by changes in body styles, the arrival of the Car of Tomorrow – which made it's Daytona debut in 2008 – and the 2013 arrival of the Generation-6 Sprint Cup Series car. A few of the stories behind Daytona 500 race-winning cars: • 1996/2000 – Dale Jarrett, Robert Yates Racing Jarrett, inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2014, won his first of three Daytona 500 titles in 1993 while driving for Joe Gibbs Racing . But Daytona officials didn't begin the process of displaying race-winning entries until three years later. By then, Jarrett was back in Victory Lane, this time with the No. 88 Ford Thunderbird fielded by Robert Yates Racing. Today, Todd Parrott is competition director for Richard Childress Racing ’s XFINITY Series program. He was Jarrett's crew chief for both of his Daytona 500 victories at RYR. "That was the car that was in the NASCAR Hall of Fame when DJ was inducted," Parrott told NASCAR.com at AMS this past weekend. "It had gone to Talladega (where it was on display in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame) and then it was brought up for his induction." "I just remember it was very special for the car to be put in Daytona USA in '96." According to NASCAR Hall of Fame officials, the car remains at the Hall and is expected to be returned to its owners soon. Parrott said the team "talked about" refurbishing the car once they got it back and considered running it the following season at Talladega. "But I don't believe we did; I believe that was the only time we ran that car." Jarrett said he took photos of the car after a going-away dinner for driver Marcos Ambrose at the Hall. "I went up there and visited the car," he said, "talked to it. We had a moment of silence. It was cool." Four years later, the Jarrett/Parrott/Yates group was winning the Daytona 500 again. And that 2000 car, Parrott said, was "extraordinarily special." "A lot of time was spent on it," he said. "It sat on the pole for the 500 ; I think we finished second in the (qualifying) race, and then won the 500 with it. "And that was after we had an accident on Saturday afternoon in Happy Hour; we went back and worked on it. To see it win there was extra special, knowing all the work that went into it prior to that." The most notable difference between Jarrett's '96 and '00 entries – the '96 was a Thunderbird; his '00 win came in a Taurus. • 1998 – Dale Earnhardt, Richard Childress Racing The penny is still there, team owner Richard Childress said. In 1998, seven-time NASCAR premier series champion Dale Earnhardt ended 19 years of frustration by finally winning the one major race that had managed to avoid his grasp, winning the Daytona 500 in his 20th attempt. Taped to the dash of his Chevrolet Monte Carlo was a penny given to Earnhardt by Wessa Miller, a young girl suffering from spina bifida. Miller had met Earnhardt during Speedweeks thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. "It's in my museum right now, and still has the original penny on the dash," Childress said of the car. " Kevin Harvick 's 2007 Daytona 500 winning car is in the museum as well. "I think I left (Kevin's car) scratched and beat up just like it came out … from when he got in the wall on the backstretch." • 2009 – Matt Kenseth , Roush Fenway Racing Kenseth has a pair of Daytona 500 titles, the first in '09 with crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the second in '12 with Jimmy Fennig. PHOTOS: Drivers with multiple wins in the Great American Race "The car is usable again," Blickensderfer, now crew chief for Richard Petty Motorsports driver Sam Hornish Jr ., said. "But obviously most of the time … someone wants that car for a museum so you usually lose that car for that. "The things that you lose, which is pretty costly, are the components on the car. At the time when we won (the 500 ), the bump stops, the shocks the springs, brake calipers, things like that, basically all of that evolves enough to where you’re not using that stuff for the next Daytona 500 . But you lost that whole year’s worth of run on brake parts and steering pumps and things you could have used throughout a year. That part is pretty costly. "Body and chassis – anytime I've ever been involved in a big race win, somebody wants that car enough that you're not going to get to use it anyway." Kenseth's '09 winning entry did go on display inside the Roush Fenway Racing complex, as did the winning entry from '12. "Yeah, you could (re-use) the car once you got it back," Fennig, now research and development coordinator for RFR, said. "Provided they didn't change the rules over the year." But, he said, "You should be able to build a better car (by then)." • 2011 – Trevor Bayne , Wood Brothers Racing There’s still a Dasani water bottle under the seat of the No. 21 Ford Fusion, and there are signatures across the back of the car. The water bottle was left behind at some point during the race, or perhaps in the wild celebration afterward. The signatures came later – a year later in fact. When Bayne captured the '11 Daytona 500 , he became the youngest winner ever of the series' biggest race. It came in only his second start in the Sprint Cup Series. And it came with Wood Brothers Racing , one of the legendary NASCAR teams still competing. "When we got it back the next year – that Sunday … we had 20 or more people sign it that night at the Daytona Experience (formerly Daytona USA ), basically the back end of the car," Len Wood, co-owner of the team, said. The car was returned to the team’s headquarters long enough for employees in the shop that had worked on the car to place their signatures on the piece as well. It then went to the team's museum in Stuart, Virginia, where members of the Wood family autographed the car during a brief, two-day stay. By week's end, it had been delivered to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where it remains today. "That car was No. 600 in terms of Ford wins," Wood said, "plus the significance of everything else." Could it have been used the following season after it was returned to the team from Daytona? "It was a COT car, so it could have been used," said Wood. "We got it back in February of '12, the Gen-6 car didn't come around until '13 … so it could have been used at Talladega (in the spring) or in the Fourth of July (Daytona) race or Talladega in the fall. But we didn't." The car hasn't been touched, although Bayne has been back behind the wheel for photos, just so the team can correctly state that the Daytona 500 winner was the last to sit behind its wheel. Unlike most Daytona 500 winning cars, the No. 21 was covered in a combination of confetti and Coca-Cola. "They didn't break open the champagne," Wood said, "because (Trevor) was only 20. So everything stuck to it." • 2004/2014 – Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Dale Earnhardt, Inc./ Hendrick Motorsports Team owner Rick Hendrick has eight victories in the Daytona 500 , six of which came after ’96. Geoffrey Bodine ('86) and Darrell Waltrip ('89) won before the speedway began putting the cars on display. Jeff Gordon (’97, ’99, ’05), Jimmie Johnson (’06, ’13) and Earnhardt Jr. ('14) lost the use of their winning cars for a year. PHOTOS: Relive Dale Jr.'s 2014 victory at Daytona HMS just took possession of Earnhardt Jr.'s winning entry from last year and fans can now see the car in the Hendrick Motorsports museum. According to Hendrick officials, all Daytona 500 winning cars are put on display in the museum, a decision made by the team owner. Earnhardt Jr.'s '04 winning entry, however, came when the series' most popular driver was competing for Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father. "I reckon it's over at DEI in the showroom, but I haven't been to DEI in six to a dozen years," Earnhardt Jr. said. "I can't even remember the last time I was in there. There's a lot of stuff over there I wouldn't mind getting my hands on." Earnhardt Jr. said his "old Late Model car" is still there, and said it's likely the Street Stock car that was raced by all three Earnhardt siblings – Dale, Kerry and sister Kelley – is as well. "Just a lot of stuff sitting over there that I'm sure is being well taken care of," he said. "I imagine the Daytona 500 car is in a warehouse somewhere. Certainly we still have the title to it." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Green flag moved back approximately one hour Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live HAMPTON, Ga. -- The start of today's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway is being delayed by rain. The race, stop No. 2 of 36 for the Sprint Cup Series, was originally scheduled to take the green flag at 1:16 p.m. ET. Rain began falling in the area in the early-morning hours and the local Sunday forecast, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), calls for areas of drizzle, cloudy conditions and a high near 46. The event eventually got underway at 2:12 p.m. ET. NASCAR's Air Titan track drying system was dispatched once the rain ended Sunday morning, and pre-race activities were conducted without any weather-related issues. Today's race can be seen on FOX. Performance Racing Network will provide radio coverage. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
From Danica Patrick dealing with an electrical fire to Jimmie Johnson punching his ticket into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, this is the best in-car audio from the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway
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Gordon on Great American Race: 'You feel that you are part of a very special event' Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: See the full starting lineup DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- For the 23rd time in his career, Jeff Gordon will suit up and slide behind the wheel Sunday, fire the engine of the No. 24 Chevrolet and roll off pit road to start the Daytona 500 . He'll be first in line, having won the Coors Light Pole position for the season-opening race a week earlier, edging teammate Jimmie Johnson (second) for the top spot. His expectation is to be in the same position when the checkered flag appears sometime late Sunday afternoon. Gordon, 43, is making his final start in season’s biggest race. Big stage, big names and big dreams. RELATED: Full coverage with Race Center A four-time premier series champion, Gordon is experienced and comfortable under pressure. And few races are as pressure-packed as the Daytona 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX), where victories often cement legendary status for those that triumph. You might not be a nobody if your career ends without a Daytona 500 victory, but win one and you're suddenly a somebody. His first Daytona 500 start, in 1993, resulted in a fifth-place finish, an impressive debut for a 21-year-old kid making his second career start in NASCAR's premier series. Last season, Gordon finished fourth. In between, there has been plenty of success and just as much heartbreak for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. It's a race in which he has never finished second. In the Daytona 500 , there's first, and then everyone else. "I just remember kind of an ah‑ha moment where I was running maybe third, I think Dale (Earnhardt) was leading, maybe I was even second. Dale Jarrett was in that mix too, and there was a group of like five us that had separated ourselves from the rest of the field," Gordon said of his 1993 debut. "… And just going, 'Oh my God, what am I doing here? This is the Daytona 500 , my first one, and I'm right in the mix of this thing. How cool is this?' " The wins would come -- the first in 1997 made him at the time the youngest winner of the race, a mark that's since been eclipsed. In that race, Gordon streaked underneath Bill Elliott with six laps remaining for the final lead change. "The yellow line (under which passing will draw a penalty) didn't exist (then)," he said. "I think it existed the next year after that." Gordon won again in 1999, beating Earnhardt no less, and a third time in 2005 after a furious shootout with Earnhardt Jr. and eventual runner-up Kurt Busch. Only Richard Petty (seven) and Cale Yarborough (four) have won the race more often; Bobby Allison and Jarrett are also three-time winners of the 500 . "When you look at what he's done here … Jeff Gordon is going to be looked at as a great driver no matter what," said Ray Evernham, Gordon's crew chief in two of those Daytona 500 victories. "No matter which column you look down, whether it's wins, whether it's finishes, whether it's championships, whatever it is you look down that column and his name is going to be near the top. "Ultimately, the great drivers have won the Daytona 500 and when you've won it (multiple) times …" Although 12 of his 92 career wins have come on restrictor-plate tracks (six at Daytona and six at Talladega Superspeedway), the two venues are among Gordon's worst in terms of average finishing position (16.2 and 17.0 respectively). His average finishing position in the Daytona 500 is 17.8. Averages aren't on his mind, however, as he prepares to embark upon his final season as a full-time racer. Checkered flags are. And none provide a bigger thrill than the one that will be waving tomorrow afternoon. "Whether you like restrictor-plate racing or not, you want to win this race," Gordon said. "You are excited to just be a part of it and be in the race. "When I describe it to other people that have maybe never been, I always say to them there is just nothing like race day for the Daytona 500 . You just feel the energy. You feel a little bit more anxiousness and nerves as a competitor. "But you feel that you are part of a very special event and you are getting that energy from the fans, from the media, from your team, from everybody. There is just something different about it and it is just really hard to describe what creates that other than it's the Great American race." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule