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Kahne wins pole for Sunday night race at Atlanta

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kasey Kahne ripped off a lap at 186.196 mph (29.775 seconds) Saturday to win the pole for Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season.

HAMPTON, Ga. -- Kasey Kahne ripped off a lap at 186.196 mph (29.775 seconds) Saturday to win the pole for Sunday night's AdvoCare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the 25th NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season.

Kahne edged Clint Bowyer (185.922 mph) to win his second Coors Light pole award of the season and the 22nd of his career. Kyle Busch (185.841 mph) will start third in Sunday's race, followed by Brian Vickers (185.772 mph), Kahne's teammate at Red Bull Racing, and Jeff Gordon (185.735 mph).

"It was a good lap," Kahne said in a bit of an understatement, given that he was the only one of 47 drivers to top 186 mph. "Coming to the green, I felt like I had a good car. It got away from me just a little bit off of (Turn) 4, and I just had to do the best I could. I was a little bit on the tight side, so I had to slow down more than I would have liked getting into the (first) corner, but once it did turn, I had tons of grip, and I was able to get off Turn 2 really well.

"Down the backstretch and Turns 3 and 4 were really good, too, so it just worked out well for us. It wasn't a perfect lap, but it must have been just a little bit better than everyone else's."

Kahne has two victories at the 1.54-mile track. He is 15th in the Cup standings, and a win on Sunday night would put him squarely in the mix of drivers competing for wild-card spots in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

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"We need to win if we want to make the Chase," Kahne said. "We're just right there on the outside looking in right now, but I think we've got a decent shot at winning one of these last two races. Atlanta's my favorite racetrack, and we've got a great starting spot."

This is Kahne's only full season with the Red Bull team, which is up for sale. Kahne will succeed Mark Martin at Hendrick Motorsports next season.

Bowyer is another driver who sorely needs a strong performance to keep his Chase hopes alive. Currently 12th in the standings, Bowyer is 22 points behind 10th-place Tony Stewart.

"It was an important qualifying run," Bowyer said. "We're not out of this thing--we can't give up on it. And a good qualifying run is a breath of fresh air for all of us. We've been struggling a little bit in the qualifying category. ... She was loose--holy cow!--it was a handful. But it was a fun lap."

Tony Raines, T.J. Bell, Geoffrey Bodine and David Stremme failed to make the 43-car field.

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