Atlanta Motor Speedway notebook

If Kasey Kahne hopes to repeat his 2006 performance -- he came from way behind in the points race to secure a berth in the Chase -- his best bet is to defend his victory in the Emory Healthcare 500, which will be held Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

In 2006, Kahne made up 90 points in the last two races to get in the Chase. This year he has 136 points separating him from 12th-place Clint Bowyer, with regular-season races remaining at Atlanta and Richmond.

Kahne said on this week’s NASCAR teleconference that duplicating the feat is possible.

“Hopefully we have a good shot,” he said. “Two good tracks for us. I know we can go fast at both of them. If Clint has any type of a hiccup, we'll be right in the middle of it.”

But if he doesn’t make the cut, he won't write off the rest of the season, even though he’s leaving Richard Petty Motorsports at the end of the season and will spend a year at Red Bull Racing before moving to Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.

“I know I’ve got 12 races left,” he said. “I don't want to be done winning in a Ford. I don't want to be done winning for Budweiser or Richard Petty Motorsports. Hopefully we can find some spark to that.

“If we don't make the Chase, hopefully we can show up to the racetrack each week and contend. If we do make the Chase, we can do the same thing ... contend. I feel we should have a really good shot at winning a race or two regardless if we make it or not.”

Kahne likes AMS

Kahne said he hates that AMS lost one of its races because he would prefer racing in Atlanta more than twice a year.

“It's been my favorite track since I came into NASCAR,” he said, explaining that the abrasive asphalt on the 1.5-mile oval suits his driving style. “It's fast, a little bit rough, real line-sensitive, and you can move around and find grip at the same time from the white line to the wall.

“If you keep searching, you can always find something that helps your car. That's kind of how I've always raced on dirt tracks. You're always looking on the next lap for something different. Atlanta really suits me because of that.”

Shepherd rejoins Childress

Richard Childress has joined forces with one of his one-time driving rivals, Morgan Shepherd, in a deal that will keep Shepherd at the wheel of the No. 21 Chevrolet in selected Nationwide Series races.

Childress chose a driver who, at age 68, is four years older than Childress. Shepherd continued racing when Childress became a car owner in 1981.

Childress’ Cup driver, Bowyer, will drive the No. 21 at Atlanta, Richmond, Charlotte and Texas with sponsorship from Athens-based Zaxby’s. Shepherd will drive the Shepherd Racing Ventures Chevrolet in the remaining seven races on this year’s Nationwide schedule.

“Morgan and I have been friends for a long time, and he is a direct link back to the days when we raced together in the ’60s, ’70s and '80s,” Childress said in a statement. “He’s been a great representative of NASCAR for all that time, so I’m honored to be working with Morgan in continuing his racing career.”

Shepherd already has run seven races in the No. 21 for Childress.