By Doug Gorman
Kasey Kahne, who races for team owner Richard Petty, put his name in the Atlanta Motor Speedway history books Sunday, winning the Pep Boys 500 in the first Sprint Cup race to take place under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kahne, who started the race in the front row, led six times for 60 laps and won for the second time ever at AMS.
He crossed the finished line at about 11:30 p.m. after nearly three hours and 44 minutes of racing to put an end to the historic night of racing in Hampton.
Kahne took the lead for the last time with 10 laps to go when he passed Kevin Harvick.
"It feels great to win here in Atlanta," he said. "On a night like tonight when the chase has been so close, this team really stepped up."
Kahne's late-race pass to take the lead for good, spoiled Harvick's hopes for a weekend sweep after he won Saturday's Nationwide event. Sunday's second-place finish was Harvick's best run on the Sprint Cup series this year.
"We had a great car tonight," Harvick said. "We would have loved to have won, but after the type of year we have had, it feels like a win."
Juan Pablo Montoya, who started in the 11th row, finished the race in third place. His solid finish moved him up to eighth overall, but it won't change the way he will approach next week's race in Richmond.
"It makes life easier," he said. "We have a great car for there, (we) just (need to) be smart and get a top-10."
Sunday was a homecoming for former Thursday Thunder drivers Joey Logano, who finished 22nd, Reed Sorenson, who finished 27th and David Ragan, who was 33rd.
Tony Stewart, who leads the Sprint Cup Points chase, finished Sunday night's race in 11th place.
Heading into next week's race at Richmond, Stewart has a 237-point lead over Jeff Gordon and a 290-point lead over Jimmie Johnson to round out the top-three spots in the Chase for the Championship.
Only the top-12 drivers make it into the battle for the 2009 points title, which officially begins after next's week race in Richmond.
With his victory at AMS, Kahne moved up to the sixth spot in the points chase. Kahne is 541 points behind Stewart.