From the Marbles - NASCAR

Once the Chase begins, everybody ignores all the 31 non-Chasers inthe field. And that's just not right. Those guys need love too! So eachweek, we'll focus on the highest-finishing non-Chaser. This week: Kasey Kahne.

For a guy who gathered a truckload of headlines earlier this season for his departure from Richard Petty Motorsports and his signing with Hendrick, with a one-year stop at Red Bull, Kasey Kahne has been surprisingly anonymous over the last few months. Since Chicago, his only solid finish has been a fifth-place run at Bristol.

That is, until Sunday at California. Kahne ran well all afternoon, rarely dipping out of the mid-teens and finally finishing fourth. There was no way he was catching the trifecta of Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson, though. 

"We had been loose all day, but we were just a little bit tight thereright at the end and those guys were a little better," Kahne said afterward. "They turned alittle better than I did getting to the center and could roll faster,but it was still a great day by the team. All of the guys on myBudweiser Ford Fusion did a nice job. We made some gains and it wasactually nice. I felt like a driver again, so it was kind of cool."

Kahne's finish was a much-needed boost for Ford, which had suffered earlier in the afternoon with ugly engine blowups in the cars of Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth.

The suspicion around the track has been that the departing Kahne isn't getting the best RPM tender loving care; that's instead going to AJ Allmendinger, who's responding in kind. But with the news that current crew chief Kenny Francis will be accompanying Kahne to Red Bull, HurriKahne fans have to be feeling good about the future. Now, if they can just get through the rest of this year ... 

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