We knew we had a great car and we just started battling back, said Kahne, who fell behind on the 47th lap of the Nextel Cup race when debris on his radiator caused his engine to overheat and sent the youngster to the pits under the green flag.
That knocked the popular 26-year-old racer, the 2004 Cup rookie of the year, back to 38th in the 43-car field, a lap behind the leaders. But a caution for light rain just seven laps later allowed Kahne to regain the lead lap and it didnt take long for him to drive back into contention.
We took two tires there once and passed some cars on pit road and then we were able to get past some cars on the track, said Kahne, who started his No. 9 Evernham Motorsports Dodge from the pole and got back to the front before a downpour cut the race short by 71 laps on the 2-mile oval.
Kahne, earning a series-best fourth victory of the season and his third from the top qualifying spot, said, Its pretty crazy to win in the rain and be in the right place there at the end. But we did have the best car.
What impressed team owner Ray Evernham was the maturity Kahne displayed after being pushed to the rear by the overheating motor.
Hes definitely grown as a race driver, Evernham said. He understands what he needs to do. He understands that these races are longer.
While Kahne was racing back into contention, Carl Edwards, who had two top-five finishes at Michigan last year in his first full season in Cup, moved to the front in his No. 99 Roush Racing Ford and appeared to be the car to beat.
On lap 112 of the race scheduled to go 200 laps, Kahne barely beat Edwards out of the pits in a battle for fourth place under a caution flag one of a track record-tying nine yellows.
That turned out to be the move of the race.
After the green flag waved on lap 116, Kahne, who had taken four fresh tires, quickly chased down rookie Reed Sorenson, who had taken the lead under the final caution by putting on only two tires. Kahne drove into the lead on lap 117.
Edwards got by Sorenson on the next lap and tried hard to chase down Kahne, but he was still nearly a full second about half the front straightaway behind when the rain brought out the final caution lap 124.
When the heavy rain began on lap 129, NASCAR stopped the cars with a red flag. Minutes later, the race was called.
Kahne who has five career wins, four from the pole was fast throughout the weekend, despite crashing during the final practice session Saturday. That forced his team to repair the right side of the Charger.
There were a lot of good cars, Kahne said. We fought our way back to the front. The guys rebuilt my car from yesterday and it was still great.
Edwards finished second, his best finish of the season, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., defending race winner Greg Biffle, Sorenson and series points leader Jimmie Johnson.
Bill Lester, the first black driver to race in the Cup series in 20 years, improved on his March debut at Atlanta, where he finished 38th, six laps behind Kahne, who also won from the pole that day. This time, Lester, with a little help from the spate of caution flags, stayed on the lead lap and finished 32nd