Despite leading most laps, Kasey Kahne finishes fourth

Yes, it was a disappointment for Kasey Kahne to lead the most laps of Saturday night's Showtime Southern 500 and finish fourth, but his performance may be a sign that the one-year Team Red Bull driver is a legitimate Chase contender.

After leading just two laps in the first eight races of 2011, Kahne, who started on the pole, led 124 at Darlington and 29 at Richmond (where he finished third) and has moved to 15th in the points standings.

It must be the magic from the knee surgery that he underwent after Easter.

Kahne never slipped out of the top five during any green-flag portion of the race at Darlington and exited the pits on the race's final green flag pit stop sequence ahead of Carl Edwards. However, Edwards ran him down with 27 laps to go.

Before Richmond, Kahne had three consecutive finishes outside the top 20 and hadn't been a serious contender for a win all season. Now, after these last two races, Kahne and Red Bull look dangerous.

If they are truly are going to be contenders, they'll need to close the deal on nights like Saturday night. However, if Kahne keeps running that well, a win or two may be inevitable.

What to Read Next