Kahne Looks to Continue Strong Start

Kasey Kahne

“I just feel like we have a shot every week. I really think that we have. We’ve been kind of in the hunt whether it was practice or the race – especially in the race; every race this year." (Photo: Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. - Kasey Kahne is off to one the best starts of his career, leading to the question of if it will continue in tonight’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Kahne enters tonight’s race second in the point standings and has finished no worse than 11th in the last six races.

It’s quite a change from last season when he was 26th in the points heading into the Richmond spring race.

Kahne says the key to the turnaround is the team and preparation at Hendrick Motorsports, but there is more.

“Just putting all that stuff together, and being really relaxed and confident," said Kahne, who starts tonight’s race fourth, outside of teammate Jeff Gordon in row 2. “I just feel like we have a shot every week. I really think that we have. We’ve been kind of in the hunt whether it was practice or the race – especially in the race; every race this year.”

He has been since Las Vegas. He finished second to Matt Kenseth there, won at Bristol, placed ninth at Auto Club Speedway, finished fourth at Martinsville, was 11th at Texas and placed second to Kenseth at Kansas Speedway.

Although it is early in the season, the more Kahne runs at the front, the more he’ll be looked upon as a title contender.

“I hope as this season goes on we keep getting stronger," he said. “There are so many things that go into that in those final 10 races. I think I’ve felt pretty good the last two or three years in those final 10 races – two years – whether we were in the Chase or not, I ran pretty well. So, if we can keep building our team, hopefully we can be one of those guys when that time of the season comes. But, hard to say right now, there is still a lot of racing to go.”

Kahne says that he has the experience to win a championship.

“I think one of my biggest downfalls since I have been in this Series is being consistent,’’ he said. “That is something I’ve worked on. I have really wanted to get better for awhile. Last year I thought we did after the first seven or eight races and carried that through to this year. To me the reason we are where we are at is because we are way more consistent because I have been, and the team has.

“You just have to peak at the right time. You never know which team is going to do that. There are going to be 12 teams that definitely have a shot to do that when that time of the season comes. But right now, it is just about being consistent, figuring out each track and these cars; the tires and the things that they throw at us.”

Kahne will look to continue his success at a track where he scored his first career Sprint Cup victory in 2005. It won’t be easy.

Pole-sitter Matt Kenseth and his team will look to put the penalties of this past week behind them and show they remain strong tonight. He’ll start next to Brian Vickers, driving for injured Denny Hamlin. Hamlin’s car has always been strong at Richmond and Vickers notes that his driving style is similar to Hamlin’s.

Don’t forget about Clint Bowyer, who starts fifth. He won at Richmond in September and has finished in the top 10 in the other short track races this season and has been strong on the short tracks since joining Michael Waltrip Racing last season.

Related Topics:

Kasey Kahne, NASCAR Sprint Cup

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