Chase for the NEXTEL Cup contender Kasey Kahne fine tuned elements of the intermediate track program for his No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge during a Kentucky Speedway test today.

The Evernham Motorsports driver finished 16th at New Hampshire International Speedway yesterday and will enter Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway eighth in the series standings and 110 points behind championship leader and New Hampshire race winner Kevin Harvick.

"It was a good run for us, but I think we were much better. We had a top-five car and were up to about sixth or seventh when we had a tire go down and had to pit," Kahne said. "We went two laps down, fought back and ended up 16th. We had a top-five car but never really made it up there so we finished the race and got some points. Now we're here at Kentucky testing."

He used today's valuable test time to hone his intermediate track skills that will prove helpful in upcoming events at Kansas Speedway, Lowe's Motor Speedway and ultimately Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup finale.

"We're working on different things for some of the mile-and-a-half tracks - things we were already doing and things we wanted to try to make our program better. We need to win some races if we want to get back in this and get in that top-five," he said.

Kahne added that his team will move through the final nine races of the season with confidence after taking three wins and a total of five top-10 finishes on remaining Chase for the NEXTEL Cup tracks earlier this season, but will take a cautious approach during the Oct. 8 restrictor plate race at Talladega Superspeedway where he finished 39th on May 1 after his car was involved in an accident.

"I'm really excited about all the tracks coming up. The one we're concerned about is Talladega because you never know what's going to happen there. It can bite you and you can lose a lot of points. Other than that, I look forward to going to all the tracks. I feel we can run up front at all of them and have some solid point days," he said.

The only Dodge representative in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup said he will rely on the input of not only his team, but teammates Elliott Sadler and Scott Riggs as he tries to capture his first series title.

"It feels good to get a Dodge in the Chase and have a shot to run in the top five or better. I think the Dodge Charger is a pretty good car right now. I don't see why we can't run in the top-five because we have a really good three-car team. Scott and Elliott have helped me out and I've helped them. A lot of the things we were doing last weekend are just fine.

"I think some people were caught doing some things at Louden (N.H.) that will slow them down the rest of the year. I know Harvick and (Jeff) Burton will be slowed down after what happened this weekend, but we should be good to go. The rest of the year should be exciting," he said.

Riggs and Joe Gibbs Racing driver J.J. Yeley also turned test laps today. Yeley and his No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet are scheduled to return tomorrow, Sept. 19.

Story by Mike Schmaltz

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