Kahne And Team Still Searching For What It Takes

Kasey Kahne has been successful in the past but this year he is winless and has become the weakest member of the Hendrick Motorsports team.

Kasey Kahne has been successful in the past but this year he is winless and has become the weakest member of the Hendrick Motorsports team.

These are not the best of times for Kasey Kahne.

He’s one of four drivers employed by powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports, currently the best team in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.

Kahne can avail himself of the best in personnel and equipment.

But that doesn’t seem to do him much good, at least at this point in the season.

Kahne is winless this year with only five finishes among the top 10, two of them, a third at Kansas and a fourth at Michigan, are among the top five.

He languishes at 19th in the point standings.

All of this is no doubt disappointing for Kahne for a couple of reasons. First, he won twice last year with 11 finishes among the top five – six of them in second – and 14 among the top 10. He made the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Second, and this is probably more disturbing for Kahne, he has become the weakest member of the Hendrick clan.

Teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have six victories among them and are certain to make the Chase.

They occupy the top three positions in points, with Gordon first, Johnson just 15 points behind and Earnhardt Jr. 23 in arrears.

That’s quite a chasm between Kahne and his three teammates.

Kahne believes that for his team to progress it has to be able to run entire races without problems. That has happened a couple of times this year, but more is needed.

Kahne believes that for his team to progress it has to be able to run entire races without problems. That has happened a couple of times this year, but more is needed.

There’s always the question why, and if the answer was easy, it’s certain Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis would have already found it.

It’s only logical that they would gain knowledge from their successful teammates and apply it to their situation – or so you would think.

But what has been proven so many times over the years is that teammates often find they can’t share. What works for one or more simply doesn’t for the other.

Remember that it took Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus 12 races this season to solve their competitive problems. Then they won three of four races.

It could be that, given some changes and better fate, it might be the same for Kahne.

“I think there has been a touch of bad luck and then we just haven’t put together full races,” he said. “We’ve had great practices over the last month, maybe a little more than that. We’ve been really good in practice; great at times during the race, but we haven’t put together the full race.

“And when we have, it’s been one and then we forget how for the next three, and then come back for the fourth one and run pretty well. That side of it’s been tough and we’re all looking at that together to try to make it better.”

Kahne doubtless felt some relief after his fourth-place run at Michigan, his first top-five finish in over a month.

But he’s not ready to proclaim that he and his team have made a turnaround. At Michigan he said one good finish isn’t going to silence the critics – nor should it.

“I look at it as we need to score as many points as we can each week,” Kahne said. “Our stretch of tracks that we run really well at started about three weeks ago. 

It goes for another month, so hopefully we can hit on something over this little span that we have. 

“We haven’t yet, but we are in a good group of tracks for myself and Kenny and our team. 

We just have to do the best we can and hopefully as a group we figure it out and can start putting full races together.

It sounds so simple. But it isn’t. There isn’t one team in the doldrums that will tell you it is.

But there has been plenty of proof that it can be done.

“We just need to put 400-500 miles together,” Kahne said. “If we can do that we will be in a good spot in a hurry because of the points system and the way that it is now. 

“We’re definitely not out until Richmond and I guess that is when you would be out. 

You have a much better shot this way to make the Chase even if you are not running very well throughout the first half of the year.“We are trying.  We are working at it.  We just need to hit on it.

Once we do hopefully we can run with it for a while.”

 

 

 

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