NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Kasey Kahne has been on quite a racing journey the last few years: time with Evernham Motorsports, its sale to Richard Petty Motorsports, a season and change at Red Bull Racing and finally settling in with Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 Chevrolet. Through all those changes, a few things have remained constant with Kahne - one of those is his crew chief, Kenny Francis.
"…it's been really neat to be able to stick with Kenny as long as I have, and Keith Rodden, our engineer, he's been with us, with Evernham and when I started with the Great Clips team, Todd Devnich, Marv; I think there's three or four of us, five of us that have all stuck together for a while now, and it's worked out really well," said Kahne in a recent NASCAR teleconference. "I love working with those guys, and they just - I have a ton of respect for Kenny and how much effort that he puts into the cars and into being prepared when we get to the racetrack."
The season had a rough start for Kahne, who didn't get his first top 10 finish until the seventh race of the season at Texas; by that time, he was stuck back in 31st-place in points. Kahne compiled 13 top 10s in the next 19 races leading up to his "wild card" spot in the Chase, based on his two wins during that time frame. "I feel like our team has done a really nice job of that (fighting back) all season long, of coming back and getting behind and charging back as well as we could," said Kahne. "So we still have a lot left in the Chase. It's a bad race, but if I can win at one of those races, we're back in it and we're all tied up. We definitely have a shot, we're definitely not out of it, but we can't give up any more points at this stage of it. We just need to run well and run up front from here on out."
Kahne has some confidence going into the last seven races in the Chase - they're mostly tracks he's done well at in the past. "I enjoy racing at all the tracks in the Chase, the first three that we've been to and then the next four - the next seven," said Kahne. "They're all great tracks. I enjoy them, we run well at them, and just a - you never know what's going to happen at all of them, but you definitely enjoy going to them, and we've had some pretty good performances at all of them. We've won at a few of the tracks and came close at others. So it's a good Chase. It's a good bunch of races for myself, and hopefully we can take advantage of that and have a little bit of momentum and confidence going into them and capitalize and gain points."
Currently sitting sixth in points, Kahne knows he needs to rebound from last week's 15th-place finish at Dover to have a shot at the title. "I think we've done really well so far," said Kahne. "We were third the first race, fifth the second race, and last week we were running in the top 5 and were even maybe going to win the race. So we've brought great race cars to the track, the team has prepared and done an awesome job, our pit stops have been great. There's just a lot of really good things going on. Last week we had heartbreak with 50 laps to go, and that stuff happens. We'll fix it, and it won't happen again. But that's part of it. So we gave away some points, but I feel like we've been really consistent, maybe not the best car in the Chase but one of the top three or four cars for sure."
Source: "Transcript: NASCAR Cam Teleconference with Kasey Kahne," NASCAR Media, October 2, 2012
Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Skirts & Scuffs and Examiner.com.
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