Kahne Goes Truckin' at Darlington

Kahne candid LARGE

Kahne is seeking his third Truck Series win in just his fourth start Saturday at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The NASCAR schedule shows no race for Sprint Cup Series teams this weekend.

But Kasey Kahne’s calendar has an entry for Darlington Raceway, with the Red Bull Racing driver stepping into the Camping World Truck Series for Saturday’s Too Tough to Tame 200.

Kahne will drive the No. 18 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) as the third race of the 2011 season arrives.  MRN Radio – “The Voice of NASCAR” – will have live coverage from NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway starting at 4:45 p.m. (ET).

“Darlington is an awesome racetrack and I’m sure the Truck Series will put on a great show,” said Kahne, who will be making just the fourth series start of his career.  “They still had the old surface the last time I raced trucks at Darlington, so I expect it to be a little different this time around.”

Kahne’s Truck Series debut came at Darlington in November 2004 and it was a good one.  He led 95 of 150 laps, including the final 39, in a Jim Smith-owned Dodge and won again the following weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Kahne’s most recent foray into the Camping World Truck Series came last summer at Pocono Raceway, where he finished second (to Elliott Sadler) in the No. 18 Tundra he’ll drive this weekend at Darlington.

“We came very close to a victory last year at Pocono and I’m confident we’ll be in the hunt for a win again,” said Kahne, who started second and led 17 laps en route to that runner-up finish behind Sadler.

KBM is in its second year of operation and broke into the Camping World Truck Series with a bang in 2010 – winning the Owners’ Championship thanks in large part to driver-owner Kyle Busch’s eight wins.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of the ‘18,’ ” Kahne said.  “They’ve been very successful in a short period of time.  I was looking at all the victory banners (at the shop) a few weeks ago and told Kyle I need to get one this year so he doesn’t control the whole wall.”

The team is once again atop the owners’ standings after the first two stops of the 2011 schedule, with Busch finishing fifth in the season opener at Daytona International Speedway and following a week later with a victory at Phoenix International Raceway.

The last team owner to win back-to-back championships in the Truck Series was Steve Coulter in 2002 and 2003 with drivers Mike Bliss and Travis Kvapil, respectively.

Kahne is among 39 drivers on the preliminary entry list which includes two-time champion Todd Bodine, who won the Darlington stop a year ago.  Series leader Matt Crafton carries a one-point edge over Clay Rogers into the weekend – which features practice, qualifying and the race all packed into one full day.

Teams will hit the track for their first session Saturday at 9 a.m. (ET), qualify at 3:15 p.m. and race some two hours later.  MRN Radio’s live coverage will begin at 4:45 p.m. on its network of affiliate stations and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio/Channel 128.

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