Kahne Kicks Off Chase with Solid Run

Kasey Kahne

Kasey Kahne saw many good things about his day in the Windy City. (Photo: Getty Images)

Kasey Kahne started his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as a member of Hendrick Motorsports with a third-place effort in Sunday’s GEICO 400.

Kahne followed race winner Brad Keselowski and Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson across the finish line to begin the championship schedule with a good performance.

“Yeah, we had a great run,” said Kahne. “The team did a really nice job. The pit stops were perfect throughout the whole race. The car was good. We just -- it just was a little bit to keep up with Jimmie (Johnson), and then when Brad (Keselowski) came up there later on and they were just better than I was throughout that race.”

Kahne made his way into the Chase as a Wild Card entry based on the strength of his two regular season wins. He’s hoping to stay in contention throughout the 10-race playoff stretch and still feels like the field is as deep as any in recent Chase history.

“I felt like coming in it was pretty wide open,” said Kahne. “I felt there's been a lot of speed from a lot of different guys throughout this season. I think you have your guys, your Tony Stewart who's won a couple of the last seven maybe, and Jimmie has won five of them. So those guys have to be the favorites. I mean, they've won championships. They know what it's all about and they've handled the pressure at the end of it and done a good job with it, and so has their team. I think those guys are really stand-out guys, and then everyone else feels pretty competitive.”

Although Kahne started off slowly in his first year with Hendrick, the season has improved tremendously since early summer. He understands there will still be ups and downs for everyone over the course of the Chase slate, which is why in his mind the title battle will stay competitive.

“The swings were, I think, kind of changed throughout the season,” he said. “I think it's pretty open, but it'll probably take three or four weeks and you'll have those five or so guys that will probably end up going until the end.”

But as an opening act, Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis are both pleased with the Chicagoland performance. While they may not have had enough to challenge Keselowski for the win, Kahne saw many good things about his day in the Windy City.

“He really got going but we had a great car, the pit stops were awesome and I felt good about it but we couldn’t get any better,” Kahne said of trying to run down the Miller Lite Dodge driver. “We made a lot of adjustments and Kenny did a nice job, but we just couldn’t figure anything out to make the car better.

“So I just feel like I was lacking today and hopefully we can talk about it this week and get it better for some of these other 1.5-mile tracks.“

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