Are Better Days Ahead For Kahne?
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 11, 2014 | 9:40 A.M. EST
Kasey Kahne left Daytona 12 points out of the final transfer spot for the Chase after being collected in a crash. (Photo: Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne’s immediate reaction to Aric Almirola winning last weekend at Daytona?
It wasn’t anything personal. Kahne texted Almirola congratulations, but Kahne knew that Almirola’s win took one more spot away to make the Chase field.
While there likely won’t 16 different winners when the Chase field is set after the Richmond race in September, the more winners there are, the fewer spots remain for a driver to make it on points. Almirola was the season’s 11th different winner.
With eight races left until the Chase field is set, Kahne is 12 points from what would be the last transfer spot. Rookie Austin Dillon holds that position heading into this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
“I’m not worried yet,’’ said Kahne, who notes he’s confident about all the remaining tracks before the Chase but Watkins Glen.
Still, this has been a frustrating season for Kahne. His Hendrick Motorsports teammates - Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon - have combined to win six of the season’s first 18 races. To compare, Kahne has seven top-10 finishes.
Kahne has been fast but hasn’t struggled to put together a complete race. He says it has been a variety of issues from communication to pit road and to on the track.
“I’m involved in every bit of that,’’ Kahne said. “That’s where we’ve struggled throughout the year. We’ve put together 60 percent of a race and forgot about the other 40. That’s on every one of us. We’ve worked on that. We’re making gains. We’re now putting together 80 percent of the race and missing 20 and finishing in the top 10.’’
He said the remaining 20 percent comes from what happens on the last pit stop to his actions on the final restarts.
“If those two things come together ... with everything else we have right now, I think we’ll be perfectly fine,’’ he said.
Kahne scored three consecutive top-10 finishes until he was involved in a crash last weekend at Daytona and finished 27th.
“You go to Daytona and Talladega and you’re disappointed most of the time,’’ said Kahne, whose last Cup win came last August at Pocono. “It’s just the way that those races play out. Not a lot you can do.’’
Kahne, who won the Nationwide race at Daytona, saw his Cup race there end after contact from behind with Greg Biffle. Kahne said they discussed the incident.
“He’s getting pushed from behind,’’ Kahne said of Biffle. “I cant go any further because (Casey) Mears is coming down, and I don’t want to wreck Mears. Greg hits me because he can’t slow up. Hits me in the right corner, which you can’t do,and just sends me spinning. It’s just that style of racing. You can’t really be mad an anyone I think. Just kind of the way those races go. All the teams and drivers go into that place knowing that. You get mad once in a while if it’s just a ridiculous move or something. More times than not, it looks like two cars caused it but it’s a group of cars.’’
Regardless of how it started, Kahne was collected. He has two months to make the Chase. No time to worry what has happened. Instead he’s focused on what’s ahead.