Kahne Close, But Not Quite
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone on March 11, 2013 | 1:57 P.M. EST
Kasey Kahne led 114 laps in Kobalt Tools 400. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kahne led 114 laps in Sunday’s third race of the season but a late race pit stop by Kenseth for fuel only out the Joe Gibbs Racing driver in position for the victory. The track position enabled Kenseth to make a charge for Kahne’s lead and once he got it there wasn’t anything the Hendrick Motorsports driver could do to run him down.
“He did a perfect job and we came back second,” Kahne said of Kenseth’s effort. “But still a good run. I think we were seventh maybe after that one restart and fought back to second, so we had a great car, did everything right. We just didn't quite get there.”
As the laps wound down, Kahne tried his best to close in and make a pass on Kenseth for the top spot. But as the duo navigated their way through lapped traffic, time eventually ran out for Kahne.
“I was hoping maybe they'd run Matt's line and he'd have to go to the bottom and I thought maybe I could get a run that way,” Kahne said of the slower cars. “I think we eased through six or seven lap cars there and most of them went to the bottom and you could pass them fairly easy. It wasn't too bad.
“It didn't slow Matt up at all, which I was hoping someone at some point would slow him up a touch, but it never happened.”
The first outing for the new Gen-6 Sprint Cup Series car on a 1.5-mile track proved to be a challenge in itself for Kahne and the rest of the field. The high speeds and unknowns of how the machine would handle during the 400-mile race added up to an exhausting experience.
“It was exciting. It was a lot of fun,” said Kahne. “I enjoyed driving the car today and thought the pace was up. I've never had great cars here, I've had some pretty good ones, but today I've never driven that hard for 267 laps before, either.”
But overall Kahne gave high marks to how the car performed in its maiden intermediate track voyage.
“My car drove good,” he said. “I felt like I could pass, I could race underneath the car, do things that maybe I wouldn't have been able to do in the past. First time on a mile and a half with this new Gen 6 car, and I would say to have the same tires this is the same tire, also, which we didn't have last week, which was a big part of the Phoenix deal.
“I think the car itself today was I had a lot of fun driving it, and I thought it was a heck of a race. I got to race through cars, traffic and battle for the lead four, five, six times. I felt really confident with our Chevy SS.”