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Kahne gets Petty back in victory lane

SONOMA, Calif. — Richard Petty Motorsports has made news this season for all the wrong reasons. Caught in the financial crunch of Chrysler’s bankruptcy, the team had a recent round of layoffs and companywide salary reductions.

Star driver Kasey Kahne has been openly unhappy with RPM’s slow development of an improved Dodge motor, and the organization can’t shake whispers about its long-term stability.

A win can cure most of those ills.

Kahne returned team co-owner Richard Petty to Victory Lane for the first time in over a decade with a much-needed win — on a road course, of all places — at Infineon Raceway on Sunday.

It snapped a 37-race winless streak for Kahne, who last won at Pocono a year ago, and the first win for a Petty-owned car since John Andretti’s victory at Martinsville in April, 1999.

‘‘I feel just as good as (Kahne) does,’’ The King, clad in his trademark cowboy hat and sunglasses, said before he sipped on a congratulatory glass of red wine. ‘‘It’s great, man. It’s great.’’

Petty’s race team teetered on the verge of collapse at the end of last season and needed a January merger with Gillett-Evernham Motorsports to secure the storied NASCAR team. Rebranded as Richard Petty Motorsports, the four-car organization kicked off the season with a strong showing at the Daytona 500.

But it’s been a rough ride, since.

Team manufacturer Chrysler is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and funding to RPM has slowed to a crawl as Dodge restructures. The team laid off nine employees earlier this month while slashing salaries across the board, leading to quiet questions the last few weeks about a perceived financial instability.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Toyota/Save Mart 350 Results

Sunday

At Infineon Raceway

Sonoma, Calif.

Lap length: 1.99 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (5) Kasey Kahne, Dodge, 113 laps, 132.4 rating, 195 points, $345,071.

2. (4) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 113, 128.1, 175, $211,096.

3. (3) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 113, 113.6, 165, $175,496.

4. (11) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 113, 101.1, 160, $175,274.

5. (24) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 113, 119.2, 160, $128,325.

6. (17) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 113, 107.6, 150, $142,896.

7. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Dodge, 113, 88.7, 146, $98,700.

8. (26) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 113, 85.2, 142, $103,900.

9. (13) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 113, 85.4, 138, $131,149.

10. (8) Elliott Sadler, Dodge, 113, 83.3, 134, $100,425.

11. (38) Patrick Carpentier, Toyota, 113, 71.1, 130, $96,800.

12. (33) Max Papis, Toyota, 113, 75.4, 127, $85,400.

13. (34) Carl Edwards, Ford, 113, 87.2, 124, $136,054.

14. (23) Jamie McMurray, Ford, 113, 77, 121, $95,050.

15. (27) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 113, 96.5, 123, $100,000.

16. (1) Brian Vickers, Toyota, 113, 92.6, 120, $119,621.

17. (7) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 113, 86.3, 112, $112,902.

18. (10) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 113, 84.4, 109, $126,663.

19. (12) Joey Logano, Toyota, 113, 86.2, 106, $126,699.

20. (25) Bobby Labonte, Ford, 113, 61.6, 103, $112,052.

21. (30) Paul Menard, Ford, 113, 52.9, 100, $112,429.

22. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 113, 90.4, 102, $126,546.

23. (21) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 113, 53, 94, $95,600.

24. (9) Boris Said, Ford, 113, 87.3, 91, $76,100.

25. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 113, 53.6, 88, $114,913.

26. (35) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 113, 61.2, 85, $93,050.

27. (29) Ron Fellows, Chevrolet, 113, 58.3, 82, $77,700.

28. (15) Greg Biffle, Ford, 113, 53.9, 79, $93,525.

29. (16) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 113, 59.8, 76, $114,818.

30. (41) John Andretti, Chevrolet, 113, 40.2, 73, $86,175.

31. (42) David Reutimann, Toyota, 113, 35.5, 70, $99,621.

32. (32) David Gilliland, Chevrolet, 113, 35.2, 67, $75,855.

33. (40) David Ragan, Ford, 113, 59.9, 64, $82,195.

34. (36) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 113, 45.7, 61, $120,484.

35. (14) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 113, 51.8, 58, $80,995.

36. (22) Robby Gordon, Toyota, 113, 64.3, 60, $92,193.

37. (31) Scott Speed, Toyota, 112, 32.6, 57, $72,750.

38. (18) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 106, 52.3, 49, $91,943.

39. (39) David Stremme, Dodge, overheating, 101, 35.7, 46, $105,563.

40. (28) Reed Sorenson, Dodge, 99, 36.5, 43, $110,274.

41. (43) Brandon Ash, Dodge, accident, 94, 28, 40, $72,225.

42. (19) Dave Blaney, Toyota, rear end, 3, 26.9, 37, $72,130.

43. (37) P.J. Jones, Toyota, steering, 2, 27.8, 34, $72,490.

———

Race Statistics

Average Speed of Race Winner: 71.012 mph.

Time of Race: 3 hours, 10 minutes, 0 seconds.

Margin of Victory: 0.748 seconds.

Caution Flags: 7 for 20 laps.

Lead Changes: 10 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: B.Vickers 1-16; Ky.Busch 17-26; T.Stewart 27-29; K.Kahne 30-32; D.Hamlin 33-36; Ku.Busch 37; D.Hamlin 38-66; T.Stewart 67-74; R.Gordon 75-77; S.Speed 78-79; K.Kahne 80-113.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): K.Kahne, 2 times for 37 laps; D.Hamlin, 2 times for 33 laps; B.Vickers, 1 time for 16 laps; T.Stewart, 2 times for 11 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 10 laps; R.Gordon, 1 time for 3 laps; S.Speed, 1 time for 2 laps; Ku.Busch, 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: 1. T.Stewart, 2,364; 2. J.Gordon, 2,280; 3. J.Johnson, 2,207; 4. Ku.Busch, 2,084; 5. C.Edwards, 2,051; 6. R.Newman, 2,046; 7. D.Hamlin, 2,009; 8. G.Biffle, 1,992; 9. Ky.Busch, 1,962; 10. M.Kenseth, 1,957; 11. M.Martin, 1,926; 12. J.Montoya, 1,917.