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Kasey Kahne still annoyed by wreck, more racing notes

Photo: Mel Evans/AP

Kasey Kahne is now 12th in the Sprint Cup points after a 34th-place finish at Watkins Glen.

Kasey Kahne was none too pleased after being involved in a wreck at Watkins Glen last weekend.

Matt Kenseth, the man who caused it, has apparently reached out to Kahne to express his regret.

"He texted me, I don't know, five to eight times apologizing, trying to explain what happened, how he felt really bad about how it happened and all that stuff. I understand and I appreciate the texts," Kahne said. "At the same time, we're trying to get in the Chase. It hurts when you get wiped out when you're minding your own business. It's happened enough this year that I don't know what I can do about it, but I definitely am not pleased. It's really annoying and upsetting."

Emotions are high right now, with only four races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. Kahne is in 12th place in the Cup standings, although with two victories he's in good shape for a wild card if he doesn't make the top 10.

His 34th-place showing at Watkins Glen didn't help matters, of course. It was the fourth time this season he was taken out by a Joe Gibbs Racing driver, including three times by Kyle Busch, who won Sunday's race.

"Well, just looking at the incidents with (Kenseth) and Kyle, we've always had conversations after the fact. They've explained and felt bad about it. Truthfully, Kyle races me really good all the time. It's not really on my mind when I'm racing with Kyle," Kahne said. "Matt has been pretty tough on me a lot this year. He got me there. That's definitely on my mind. I just kind of see things the way I see it."

Kahne was asked in a teleconference Wednesday if he could recall being on the other end of situations like that - and how he'd handle it.

"It's never happened to me," he said. "Kind of makes me think I need to start taking cars out, but it hasn't happened to me. I don't know what it would be like on that side of it."

Gordon's goal

Jeff Gordon's visit to Michigan International Speedway in June was marred by an early accident - he was out of contention almost immediately when he hit a spinning Bobby Labonte less than 10 laps into the race.

Gordon figures that whole mess could have been avoided if he hadn't started so far back in the pack.

"Qualifying as poorly as we did put us in the position to get caught up in that wreck," Gordon said. "We shouldn't have been in that position to begin with. We have to improve our qualifying effort here."

Gordon started from the 29th position in June, and he finished 39th. Heading into another race in Michigan this weekend, Gordon is running out of time if he wants to qualify for the Chase.

Gordon is in 13th place in the Cup standings, and he has no wins this year, which puts him at a disadvantage in the race for the two wild cards.

"A win would certainly help our chances, but I don't think it's necessary," Gordon said. "I think a string of top fives and top 10s could get us a top-10 spot in the standings."

That string better start soon. Gordon felt like he had a good car at MIS in June, but his starting position made it harder to avoid trouble.

"I feel like we've learned some things recently that will really help our performance in qualifying as well as the race," Gordon said. "I was pretty happy with my car when the race started here in June. Hopefully, we have a strong car again."

Kenseth's kid

Ross Kenseth, the 20-year-old son of Matt Kenseth, is hoping to make his first start on the ARCA Racing Series on Aug. 25 at Madison (Wis.) International Speedway.

That's just 100 miles from his hometown of Little Chute.

"Making my first ARCA start at Madison means a lot to me," Kenseth said. "It's a great opportunity to get in a Ken Schrader Racing car. They always have good stuff, especially at short tracks."

This will be Ross Kenseth's first start in a heavy stock car similar to those used in NASCAR's top series, but he's already won at Madison International Speedway's half-mile paved oval five times in various series during his young career. Matt Kenseth was the 1994 track champion, and Ross' grandfather, Roy Kenseth, has promoted races at the facility.

"There isn't a greater place for Ross to get his first ARCA start than Madison," Matt Kenseth said. "That track has meant a lot to us through the years. We both have enjoyed some great times and have won some big races there. I really appreciate one of my racing heroes, Ken Schrader, giving Ross a chance and his first start in the ARCA series."

Honoring Leffler

The late Jason Leffler will be honored with a race in his name at Wayne County Speedway in Illinois later this month.

Leffler died in June in a dirt track accident in New Jersey. He was a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series and a one-time winner in the Truck Series.

The Jason Leffler Memorial race will take place Aug. 28. It will be a $5,000 to win Midget race, in which 100 percent of the front entrance and 50 percent of the back entrance will go to a fund set up for Leffler's son, Charlie Dean Leffler.

"This race is my way to honor Jason who was a great racer, but more importantly a great father to Charlie Dean," track owner Doug Stringer said. "Jason's passing has left a hole in the hearts of many of us who loved him and had the honor of calling him our friend. As we continue to mourn, we must keep Charlie Dean in the forefront of our minds and do everything we can to ensure he grows up knowing what an amazing person his father was and how much he was respected as both a driver and a friend."

Stringer's company, Stringer Holdings, manages the NASCAR and World of Outlaws race sponsorships for Great Clips.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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