Season Review: Kasey Kahne
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on November 25, 2013 | 7:00 A.M. EST
Kasey Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis completed their eighth season together in 2013. (Photo: Getty Images)
A season that opened with promise wasn’t fulfilled for Kasey Kahne.
After coming off a career-high fourth-place finish in the points in 2012, Kahne was viewed a contender for the title in 2013.
Although he was fast throughout the season and scored two victories, he struggled in the Chase and never was a factor for the title, finishing 12th.
Kahne admitted after a runner-up finish at Phoenix late in the season that not challenging for the title took a toll at times.
“I get down once in a while and feel pretty bad about what's going on,’’ he said. “We've had a lot of things happen to us this year, but we've battled back. We'll try to ... maybe prepare a little better for next year and try to have a little more consistent, stronger year from start to finish.’’
Early in the season, Kahne showed he could be one to contend for the title. He was as high as second in the points after the Kansas race in April. That followed a six-race stretch where he finished no worse than 11th. Included in that stretch was a victory at Bristol and runner-up finishes at Las Vegas and Kansas Speedway.
Those finishes would provide a theme for Kahne’s season. He led the series with six runner-up finishes. Three times he placed second to Matt Kenseth - Las Vegas, Kansas and Bristol.
Kahne’s other victory came at Pocono in August. He chased teammate Jeff Gordon in the final laps before passing him. Kahne then held off Gordon and others on a late-race restart to score the victory and all but assure his spot in the Chase for the second consecutive year.
Kahne’s championship hopes took a hit when he finished 12th at Chicagoland Speedway in the Chase opener. His titles hopes all but ended the next week at New Hampshire when he wrecked and placed 37th.
“I'm the one that made the mistake,’‘ Kahne said. “Things happen, whether it's to the car, driver error, a pit stop error. As long as you're always together as a team during any of those things, you just recover and you move on.
“When it's not your season, it's not your season.’’
Kahne’s strength proved to be the 1.5-mile speedways. He had four runner-up results and an average finish of 10.1 in 11 races at those tracks.
Charlotte was his best track. He finished second in both points races there.
“Charlotte always gives us a pretty good boost,’’ said Kahne, who has five consecutive top-10 finishes in points races at that track. “We always seem to run pretty well (there). We always have, and hopefully we always do.’’
While this season didn’t produce the championship finish Kahne wanted, his two years at Hendrick Motorsports have been among the most productive in his career. He has four wins, 23 top-fives and 33 top-10 finishes in 72 races.
Now, he looks for more and a better finish to 2014 than this past season.
Motor Racing Network continues our countdown to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series awards banquet in Las Vegas with a look at the 11th-place finisher Ryan Newman on Tuesday, November 26. MRN will broadcast the Awards banquet on Dec. 6 starting at 8 p.m. ET.