Kahne Set to Begin Hendrick Career
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on January 17, 2012 | 10:21 A.M. EST
Kahne: "It could be my best four years ever." (Photo: Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne is already comfortable in the Hendrick Motorsports stable and ready to begin the next phase of his NASCAR career.
Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis made their long-awaited move to Hendrick after their 2011 season with Red Bull Racing, where they enjoyed a successful end of season stretch that included a win at Phoenix.
The duo is hoping to bring that momentum with them as they kick off their new relationship with the successful Hendrick organization and the No. 5 Chevrolet.
“It's really just exciting to get started, to start working with the 5 guys and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Kahne at last week’s Preseason Thunder test at Daytona. “It's really an incredible place. I was able to spend some time there over the off-season and just try to be as prepared as possible when we get here for testing and then when we get started during “Speedweeks.”
Kahne will join the returning Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick line-up and already feels at home with his new teammates.
“It's awesome to be able to talk with Jimmie and Dale and Jeff about racing and driving and things like that, and then just all the people that they have there,” he said. “I don't know, it's just been kind of a different feeling more than anything than what I've had before at other race teams. It's a great opportunity, and I want to take full advantage of it.”
After spending the last few seasons with teams like Richard Petty Motorsports and Red Bull that were dealing with financial issues and pressures, Kahne says having a solid foundation at Hendrick has already given him a strong sense of confidence heading into the new season.
“Well, I think the biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I can -- I just need to make the best out of it,” Kahne said. “I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever. So I just want to do all that.
“And to be at a team where it's so stable, there's so many people working at the same goal, and to have an owner, a boss like Mr. Hendrick is something that is just a great opportunity to be there and be part of that organization.”
Kahne’s teammates have already pointed to his arrival as being beneficial to the organization in a couple of ways. In addition to Kahne’s talents behind the wheel, the addition of crew chief Francis will add a different perspective and new ideas to the effort.
“Yeah, I think the way they look at things and the way they've been doing things for a long time is a great way, and it's really worked for them,” Kahne said. “I think Kenny looks at some of the things that way, and then others a different way. There's so many ways to go about this car and about getting around each corner and around the racetrack. So it's something we're always learning, they're always learning and just putting in time to figure it out.
“But I think together they all -- they've worked really well together so far. It's been pretty awesome on my side to see how Kenny has fit right into that group, how they've wanted Kenny, how he's wanted to be part of it.”
So far Kahne’s transition to Hendrick has been a positive one. The No. 5 Chevy was fast during the Daytona test and the team feels confident it will return as a contender when Speedweeks kicks off next month.
Kahne believes it’s just the start of what he hopes will be a long and fruitful relationship.
“It's been a really good fit for everyone, and I think together we should all be able to grow more than where we've been in the past for sure,” Kahne said.