LONG POND, Pa. -- Kasey Kahne never thought his start to the season was all that bad, despite how it looked on paper.
In hindsight, there was something missing and it took last month’s win in the All-Star race to see it.
Now Kahne is on a roll, riding a wave of momentum from that $1-million payday into a championship-contending run.
He won for the second time in the last three Sprint Cup Series points races Sunday at Pocono Raceway, and counting his win in the All-Star race, Kahne has been to Victory Lane three times in the last four events.
And he knows he has his fans to thank after they voted him into the All-Star race, giving him the push he needed to rally his way to ninth in the Sprint Cup Series standings.
“As a driver, I didn’t feel like my confidence was down. But until I actually won this year, the All-Star race, I realized that I was leaving a little bit out there and wasn’t communicating probably like I should have been,” Kahne said. “I definitely credit the fans for getting us into the All-Star race. That gave us the momentum.”
He followed the All-Star win with a victory the next week in the Coca-Cola 600, and although he bobbled last week with a 31st-place finish at Dover, he owned Pocono.
Kahne started from the pole, overcame an early pit road penalty that dropped him to 38th and led a race-high 69 of the 200 laps in his Dodge.
“Never. I’ve never had a car that dominant before,” Kahne said. “This one stayed the same all day long. It was so good all day long.”
Brian Vickers was second for his best finish since joining Red Bull Racing at the start of last season, and Denny Hamlin was third to give Toyota two cars in the top three.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was fourth and appeared winded after racing more than four hours on the hottest day so far of the NASCAR season. Temperatures hovered around 90 degrees all day, even after a brief rain shower halted action midway through the race.
“It’s pretty hot,” a red-faced Earnhardt said. “It’s going to be a little hotter the next couple months.”
Jeff Burton was fifth and was followed by Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch. Carl Edwards and Mark Martin rounded out the top 10.
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NASCAR Sprint Cup standings:
*--* Driver Points Behind 1. Kyle Busch 2,084 -- 2. Jeff Burton 2,063 21 3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1,939 145 4. Carl Edwards 1,856 228 5. Denny Hamlin 1,800 284 6. Jimmie Johnson 1,799 285 7. Greg Biffle 1,781 303 8. Jeff Gordon 1,767 317 9. Kasey Kahne 1,719 365 10. Kevin Harvick 1,690 394 11. Clint Bowyer 1,679 405 12. Tony Stewart 1,614 470 *--*