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The Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodges of Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne run two-three at the Atlanta Motor S
HAMPTON, Ga.Jeremy Mayfield, driving the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, led his first laps of the year today and brought home Evernham Motorsports' third second-place finish of the season, his best this year. After starting 16th for the day, Mayfield ran the first half of the day in the top 15 and the second half in the top five.
"We carried over our momentum from last season," said Mayfield. "We've had some decent runs the last couple of weeks, but it hasn't been what we wanted. To come back and have a finish like this is awesome."
The "Dew Crew" was spectacular in the pits, advancing Mayfield several positions on each pit stop. At lap 154, Mayfield brought the No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge back out in the fifth position and never looked back. He steadily gained positions, and on lap 218, moved into second place. He took the lead on lap 249 and led until he was passed by the No. 8 race car on lap 266. They battled back and forth for the lead, and Mayfield retook the front spot on lap 305 with just 20 laps to go. But, he could not hold off the No. 8 and moved to the second position on lap 309. His No. 19 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge was held up in lapped traffic, and Mayfield did not have an opportunity to retake the lead.
"The team did an outstanding job on pit road today getting me out of the pits," added Mayfield. "The guys are pretty pumped up. They work hard week in and week out. To have a good run like this after the last few weeks we've had, they'll be pumped right back up again."
Mayfield moves to seventh in the NASCAR Nextel Cup points race, with 514 points, just 159 points out of first place.
Kasey Kahne, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge, started 12th after posting a speed of 190.811 mph during Friday's qualifying session. Once the green flag fell to start the race, Kahne was unable to get to his preferred low line around the track. By the time he got in line on lap four he was in 20th position.
Kahne creeped his way through the field and was in the top 10 by lap 33, when he passed Kurt Busch. Just 15 laps later, Kahne broke into the top five and was fourth going into a green flag pit stop on lap 54. The "Dew Crew" made a fast stop and Kahne found himself in the third position after all the pit stops cycled through.
On lap 83 of the 325 lap event, Kahne passed Jeff Gordon for second and slowly began to reel in leader Tony Stewart.
Kahne remained in the top three until a pit stop during a caution on lap 151. NASCAR made Kahne come back to pit road to tighten loose lug nuts. Fortunately, the penalty wasn't too severe because there were only 12 cars remaining on the lead lap.
After the restart, Kahne remained just outside the top 10 but was unable to make much progress because of handling problems. Those problems were erased after the "Dew Crew" made another fast stop on lap 246. Kahne came into the pits in the ninth position, took on four tires, fuel and handling adjustments and left the pits in fifth position.
An exciting, three-way, battle for third ensued on lap 276 between Kahne, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson. Kahne passed both cars in his No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge and finished the race third.
The finish is Kahne's third consecutive top-five finish and he moved from eighth to fourth in the NASCAR Nextel Cup point standings. He also expanded his lead from 12 to 23 points in the Raybestos Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
"It was a good day for the Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge," said Kahne after the race. "This should help us keep our momentum going. The last two weeks we've dropped off a little during the middle of the race. But, we fight back at the end and get everything going, and I think that's helped make us a stronger team. To get that first win, though, I think we've got to run a little better during the middle part of the race.
"Today is a really big boost, not just for my confidence but for the whole team. We had a lot of high expectations of things we were going to do this year, but nobody knew if we could actually do it or not. I think, over the last three races, we've proven to everyone that we're a team to contend with.
"Today also showed everyone what a strong organization Evernham Motorsports has become. I believe we can do this every weekend, and hopefully all of us will be celebrating in Victory Lane."