Kasey Kahne snaps 81-race winless streak at PIR

Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR
The duel in the desert between Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart has a surprise winner: Kasey Kahne stole the victory by nabbing the checkered flag. Finishing in second was points leader Carl Edwards, who maintains just a three-point lead heading into Homestead next week.

Kahne took the lead with 14 laps to go and held off Edwards for his first win of the season and his first for Red Bull Racing, ending an 81-race winless drought. The victory could be the last for the organization, as Red Bull will be leaving NASCAR after the end of the season. Kahne will take over the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

Stewart and Edwards again were with in eyesight of each other the entire race. Finishing third and leading the most laps (160) gave Stewart the opportunity to level the points. Starting the race with just a three-point difference, Edwards and Stewart head to Homestead with that same difference; just three points ... three positions on track.

"That's what we needed to do – run well and finish ahead of that 14 [Stewart]. That was huge," Edwards said after climbing out of the car. "Now we go to Homestead. It couldn't be better. It's going to be a battle. That place is magical for us. I really enjoy going there. I hope it comes down to the fastest guy winning the race.

As for Stewart, “We did all we could, we just came up short. It's still an awesome day. We're only 3 points back - we're going to keep him honest,” said Stewart.

Edwards and Stewart are the only drivers eligible to win the Sprint Cup championship; the remaining 10 drivers have been eliminated. This ends the reign of Jimmie Johnson, a feat we may never see repeated - five championships in a row was incredible.

Controversy erupted at Lap 178 after an accident between Brian Vickers and Matt Kenseth. The two drivers have had some tension brewing since Martinsville and the wreck appeared to be intentional. Vickers said after the race, “I was planning on paying him back, but he just lifted halfway down the backstretch. He just stopped. I don't know why. If he wants to doubt us, that's fine. He wrecked me at Martinsville, he got wrecked here, but it actually wasn't (payback). I'm not saying I wasn't going to pay him back, but I'm just saying that wasn't it. He just lifted halfway down the backstretch and the 9 was on my inside."

While he sat in his car for repairs, Kenseth said, “It was so premeditated it just surprises me they didn’t do anything. I am disappointed but I expected it.”

NASCAR’s take on Vickers vs. Kenseth; they heard Kenseth say on radio he had lost brakes. Vickers says he didn't try to hit him, Kenseth lifted. Thus there was no penalties issued for Vickers, much to the outcry of NASCAR fans on Twitter.

One thing that is for certain, next weekend’s finale is going to be interesting!

Race results:
1. Kasey Kahne
2. Carl Edwards
3. Tony Stewart
4. Jeff Burton
5. Ryan Newman
6. A.J. Allmendinger
7. David Reutimann
8. Marcos Ambrose
9. Paul Menard
10. Clint Bowyer
11. Joey Logano
12. Denny Hamlin
13. Greg Biffle
14. Jimmie Johnson
15. Juan Pablo Montoya
16. Mark Martin
17. Jamie McMurray
18. Brad Keselowski
19. Kevin Harvick
20. Martin Truex Jr.
21. Bobby Labonte
22. Kurt Busch
23. Brian Vickers
24. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
25. Cole Whitt
26. Casey Mears
27. Dave Blaney
28. J.J. Yeley
29. Landon Cassill
30. Mike Bliss
31. David Gilliland
32. Jeff Gordon
33. David Ragan
34. Matt Kenseth
35. Robby Gordon
36. Kyle Busch
37. Geoffrey Bodine
38. Regan Smith
39. Scott Speed
40. Michael McDowell
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Mike Skinner
43. Travis Kvapil
Kasey Kahne snaps 81-race winless streak at PIR Kasey Kahne snaps 81-race winless streak at PIR Reviewed by Unknown on Sunday, November 13, 2011 Rating: 5