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Kahne knows too many obstacles stand in way

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published September 29, 2006


KANSAS CITY, Kan. - After further review, Kasey Kahne figures he still has a shot at the championship.

But he knows it's a long shot.

The third-year driver was caught up in Tony Stewart's spinout at Dover International Speedway last weekend and heads into the race Sunday at Kansas Speedway ninth in the Nextel Cup standings - 182 points behind leader Jeff Burton.

To get back in the race, Kahne will have to do more than just drive hard and avoid trouble. He'll also need several of his rivals to find their own bad luck.

"I think we're a long ways from winning the championship," Kahne said. "I think that, you know, with the right breaks and the performance that we're capable of doing, we can get right back in it."

Kahne was more upbeat about his championship chances this week than he was in the immediate aftermath of the Dover incident, which caused him to declare, "No more championship."

But the short history of NASCAR's postseason-style championship format would suggest Kahne's first reaction was correct.

Yes, Kurt Busch had a 42nd-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway during his championship run in 2004. But Busch held the points lead going into that race and didn't lose it afterward.

And last year, Stewart's worst finish in the final 10 races was 25th. That's why Stewart expressed what seemed to be legitimate remorse after his spinout took Kahne out.

"Wrecking is one thing, but when you take out somebody that's in the Chase, you've screwed up a whole team's year by one race," Stewart said after the race. "And of all people, it's one of my good friends."

Stewart and Kahne have tangled on the track in the past, but share similar open-wheel short-track racing roots - and the same agent.

Stewart knows it's unlikely Kahne can rebound to win the title.

"Kasey can go out and win the rest of the races and not win the championship still," Stewart said. "It's not about who's going to win the championship based on good finishes, it's going to be about guys who just don't have a bad day. That's all this Chase boils down to."