Kahne Says Team Stepping Up

Kasey Kahne

Although he didn't win last weekend at Indianapolis, Kasey Kahne said he was excited about how his team "stepped up." (Photo: Getty Images)


LONG POND, Pa. - Minutes after the disappointment, Kasey Kahne looked ahead. Crew chief Kenny Francis admits it took him a couple of hours to get over the finish of last weekend’s Brickyard 400.

Kahne dominated that race but fell back on the final restart and ran out of fuel coming to the finish. He placed sixth. After Kahne’s crew pushed his car to the team’s hauler, Kahne talked about how excited he was of the six races before the Chase.

That excitement is evident this weekend at Pocono Raceway where Kahne won the GoBowling.com 400 last year and finished second in this event two years ago. He will start Sunday's race 12th.

He also has the car he drove at Indy. That’s a quick turnaround to get a car ready for another race, but Francis said that it is new with “a few differences to the chassis’’ and it’s the only car they have like that so they decided to bring it.

It wasn’t just the car that performed well last weekend. It was the team and that Kahne excited.

“What I liked the most about the entire weekend was the team stepped up,’’ Kahne said. “It was the first time of the season we have put a full race together. From me driving to them on pit road to pit calls, everything about it was right. That is something that we haven’t done this year. We haven’t even come close to doing that. 

“It was a big weekend for all of us and we got some momentum out of it, some confidence I think on all of our parts. Hopefully, we can carry that into this weekend and especially Sunday.”

Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon, whose team is based in the same building as Kahne’s team, said it was encouraging to see Kahne’s strength at Indy.

“The No. 5 car has had their struggles, but I was really happy to see how strong his car was last week,’’ Gordon said. “I thought that we both had the cars to beat there at the race, so we all want to see them get a win and get themselves in the Chase and they certainly had a great shot at that.’’

Kahne, who is winless this season, enters this weekend outside a spot for the 16-driver Chase. He trails Austin Dillon for the final transfer spot by four points. Four top-10 finishes in the last six races has Kahne trending in the right direction.

Making the Chase and contending for the championship are two distinct hurdles. While Tony Stewart went winless in 2011 before the Chase and then won five of the 10 Chase races to claim the title, such a dramatic turnaround is not as common.

Yet, Kahne said he doesn’t feel his team is far off.

“The guys have worked really hard all season long,’’ he said. “I’ve been right there with them at times watching them. Then just last week we finally put together a full race.  Why did that happen? Where did that come from? It’s not like we picked up speed in any of those areas.

“It was just like we all did our job the entire race, the entire day and communicated and had great attitudes and focus. I think focus is a big part of it. I feel like a team at this level of racing we could go all the way until Richmond. You make it into the Chase at Richmond and hit on your stride and the teams that are built right now could make a run. 

“We could have the season we have had and make it at Richmond and then make a run for the championship. That is just my opinion, but that is the way that I look at things.’’

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of Sunday's GoBowling.com 400 from Pocono Raceway starting at noon (ET), with live streaming at MRN.com.

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