CONCORD, N.C. (AP) – Kasey Kahne did everything right, yet it did little to help his championship hopes.

Kahne put on a dominating performance Saturday night to complete a season sweep at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, passing track favorite Jimmie Johnson with 26 laps go and pulling away for the victory.

But the win – his series-leading sixth of the season – hardly moved him in the Chase for the championship standings. He’s eighth, 160 points out with five races to go before the Nextel Cup is awarded.

Although several Chase contenders had horrible nights – including Denny Hamlin, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon – Jeff Burton is proving to be an excellent points racer and retained his spot atop the standings in spite of a pit road miscue. He finished third and leads Matt Kenseth by 45 points.

Kahne led 134 laps to grab the win, his second this season on the 1.5-mile track. He also nipped Johnson to win the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

Johnson, winner of five of the past eight races at Lowe’s, finished second again. He moved up one point to seventh in the Chase standings, but is still 146 out.

Still, the top half of the standings are still pretty tight, and only 106 points separate Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished fourth and is fifth in the standings.

Earnhardt then marveled at what Burton – the driver who couldn’t find his way to Victory Lane for almost five years before this season – has been able to accomplish.

“I couldn’t catch up to the Ice Man, Jeff Burton,” Earnhardt said. “He’s not indestructible, but he’s doing a great job. He’s been doing it for years. He knows what it takes.”

Mayhem broke out 91 laps from the finish during a round of green-flag pit stops.

First, Kevin Harvick was caught speeding on pit road. Then Burton, his teammate, stalled exiting his pit stall. As his crew was frantically trying to jump-start Burton by pushing him down pit road, Harvick headed that way to serve his speeding penalty.

Meanwhile, out on the track, Martin was attempting to pass J.J. Yeley on the inside when the rookie cut down toward pit road. The contact sent Martin’s car skyrocketing across the track – it was off the ground when it hit the wall – and came to a stop in a crumpled heap that crippled his chance at taking over the championship standings.

Martin had flirted with the points lead all night, shifting back and forth from first to second in the standings before the accident snapped his streak of 37-straight races running at the end. He finished 30th, and is now fourth in the standings, 102 out.

“The championship is not really something that’s meant to be for me ever,” he said. “It’s not gonna beat me down. I’m having a good time. I’m having a blast.”

When the race restarted with 83 to go, Burton was a lap down, Harvick was two down, and the championship chase was a whole lot tighter.

But the two Richard Childress Racing teammates worked their way back toward the front to salvage the night and their spots in the standings. Harvick wound up 18th and is third in the standings.

“We’re living right,” Harvick said. “All three gears broke and the thing’s still running. We just kind of nursed it home.”

Gordon couldn’t do the same, blowing an engine with 33 laps to go while running fourth.

Hamlin’s dream season finally crashed back down to reality when he was wrecked on the very first lap of the race.

The accident began when Robby Gordon began swerving all over the track as he exited the fourth turn, causing traffic to stack up behind him to avoid running into him. Hamlin successfully braked, but Mike Bliss didn’t and ran smack into the back of him.

It sent Hamlin spinning, and his Chevrolet received considerable damage, forcing him to the garage for repairs.

The rookie was 60 laps down when he returned to the track, and dropped from fifth in the Chase standings to seventh.

“It’s part of it I guess,” Hamlin said. “We’re just gonna keep on fighting.”

NASCAR had its second gaffe in two nights following that first caution when the control tower restarted the race when safety trucks were still cleaning the track. The mistake was realized before the cars hit the first turn and the caution flag was quickly shown.

One night earlier in the Busch Series event, NASCAR had to stop the field with 10 laps remaining to figure out where the cars should line up.

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