Tag:Kasey Kahne
Posted on: March 7, 2012 9:44 am
Edited on: March 7, 2012 10:18 am
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Idle Thoughts: Pressure already on for some

By Pete Pistone


  Crew Members
(This scene has been all too familiar to Kasey Kahne in the first two weeks of the season - Getty Images)

Two races do not make a season by any means. However there is a group of drivers who come into Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway already in need of a good finish.

The opening weeks in Daytona and Phoenix have not gone very well for some high profile names most expected to be factors in 2012. While there is certainly time to get things back on track, you wouldn’t blame these drivers for perhaps grabbing that steering wheel a little tighter Sunday in Vegas:

 

Kasey Kahne

This was supposed to be the breakout year for Kahne who finally made the move to Hendrick Motorsports after his limbo season in 2011 at Red Bull. But so far Kahne has had nothing but trouble and a lot of damaged racecars to show for his effort. A crash-filled Speedweeks rolled into another accident for Kahne early in last Sunday’s Phoenix race knocking him from contention in a race he was considered a favorite to win. The usually calm Kahne was frustrated after his early exit at PIR.

"I've been so excited about it, and I was excited the whole offseason and couldn't wait for the season to get here," Kahne said. "I show up at Phoenix, we're the best car all day Friday, top two cars all day yesterday, would have been the same today. I just need to calm the (blank) down."

Crew chief Kenny Francis will help Kahne do just that and there’s no reason to write this team off just yet. A top ten here and a top five there should be all the No. 5 Hendrick team needs in the coming weeks to shake the disappointment of the early going and begin to fulfill the high preseason expectations.

 

A.J. Allmendinger

Penske Racing’s newest driver has also endured a crash-filled opening two races of the season and finds himself 25<sup>th</sup> in the standings. That’s not what the former Richard Petty Motorsports driver expected to happen when he got the call to drive for his hero Roger Penske.

"Honestly, it was a bit of a frustrating weekend especially on the heels of Daytona,” Allmendinger said after eventually finishing in position 18 Sunday in Phoenix but not before getting swept up in a multi-car crash earlier in the race. “I've always run well here, so I came in with my goal being a top five or top ten at least.  We just couldn't get the car dialed in from the start.”

What may compound Allmendinger’s issues going forward is Penske’s announcement to switch from Dodge to Ford in 2013. The company is now faced with the task of ramping up for next year only two races into the current campaign while trying to focus on Allmendinger and teammate Brad Keselowski this season. Allmendinger is working on a one year contract as well so the stress level may be on the rise in the No. 22 camp unless things turnaround quickly.
 

Jamie McMurray

The new season has been a repeat of the dismal campaign of a year ago that team owner Chip Ganassi referred to as pathetic. McMurray has dropped all the way to position 35 in the point standings and suffered through a pair of disappointing outings in Daytona and Phoenix. He survived a lap 134 tangle with Allmendinger and Paul Menard only to have his engine expire in the late stages of the race.

“I don't know the motor blew up again. I don't know what happened there. It started missing and started smoking and just quit running, tough day," McMurray said.

Those engine issues have to be disconcerting to the Ganassi team, which worked so hard in the off season to find more speed and reliability under the hood. If that becomes a trend again for McMurray and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, Ganassi may use a much more negative word to describe 2012.

 

Jimmie Johnson

The consensus is Johnson will recover from the early season challenge of a 25 point penalty for pre-Daytona 500 inspection infractions and a forty-second place finish in “The Great American Race.” But the reality is the five-time champion comes to Las Vegas 71 points out of the lead. He finished fourth Sunday in Phoenix to prove there’s really nothing wrong with the 48 team on a whole and remains positive about what lies ahead despite the obstacles.

“It is going to make it exciting,” said crew chief Chad Knaus, who awaits to appeal the penalty and six-race suspension handed down by NASCAR. “That is one thing that we typically try to do here with the No. 48 team. We somehow or another we seem to get through adversity pretty well.

“I’m not saying we like a challenge like this, but I’m pretty sure we will rise to the occasion.”

Johnson has a couple of things on his side to rebound – time and the wild card berths available to make the Chase.

“The end result is winning races,” Johnson said. “The worst-case scenario would be fighting for a wild card spot and that boils down to winning races. There’s a lot of racing between now and September in Richmond, the cutoff for the Chase. Right now, we’re focused on doing the best job we can and the most points we possibly can.”

He’s made comebacks before but Johnson has never been in position to have to make one this early in a season.

 
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Posted on: March 4, 2012 4:32 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 4:34 pm
 

Video: Early trouble for Bowyer, Kahne at Phoenix

Posted by Brian De Los Santos

Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne found trouble early during the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix. Bowyer blew a tire not once, but twice, while Kahne got loose and smacked the wall. The damage was severe enough that Kahne had to take his car to the garage for repairs.

It's the second straight race Kahne has run into trouble as he wound up 29th in Daytona. Bowyer was coming off an 11th-place finish.




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Posted on: March 1, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Behind the Hauler: Kenny Francis

By Pete Pistone


  Kasey Kahne(L), Driver Of The #5 Farmer's Insurance Group, And Kenny Francis, Crew Chief Of The #5 Farmer's Insurance
(Francis is hoping to guide Kahne into the Chase and a possible Sprint Cup title in 2012)

Kasey Kahne
and crew chief Kenny Francis have been a successful tandem working together at a number of NASCAR operations. The duo spent last season with Red Bull Racing and went to victory lane in the second to last race of the year at Phoenix in anticipation of their long-planned move to Hendrick Motorsports.

As the 2012 season gears up, Francis is ready to guide Kahne behind the wheel of the Hendrick No. 5 Chevrolet. Although their season didn’t get off to the best start at Daytona with a variety of incidents and bad luck getting in the way, Francis believes a successful season as well as tenure at Hendrick lies ahead.

He joined SIRIUS/XM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” to preview the year and provide his perspective of working with Kahne and at Hendrick Motorsports:
 

Why do you and Kasey work so well together? What is it between you two?

We’ve got a lot of history together Kasey and I and we’ve been through a lot of ups and a lot of down too. We’ve got a great understanding of each other so hopefully we can be an asset to this organization and bring something to the table that’ll help everyone. We’re hopeful and confident that we’re going to run good and do well for Farmer’s (Insurance), all of our sponsors and the organization.
 

When did that chemistry begin?

Well we started working together the last race of 2005 officially but we had obviously known each other before that because he was our teammate at Evernham (Motorsports). So I’d say you know he was pretty young and I was younger too but he had a lot of talent and enthusiasm but I think we hit it off when we first met him. We started developing that relationship…it’s been a good time.
 

Assess him for us Kenny. What are some of the characteristics and attributes of Kasey Kahne that helps you as the crew chief try to get that car to victory lane on a more regular basis?

He’s pretty smart; he’s really good at thinking about the car and figuring out what he needs to go faster. He’s pretty analytical about things. He’s got a real good feel seat of the pants-wise. Which is great, he’s probably one of the most naturally talented people I know but he puts that together with a real good thought process.
 

Can you guys contend for multiple wins and a championship in 2012? A lot of people already have you as title contenders and expect big success in year one at Hendrick?

It’s too soon to kind of say anything. It’s going to take us some races to get used to things and understand the subtleties of these cars. The Hendrick chassis and bodies are a little different than what we had before. It all should be good. At the same time we are trying to sort out new cars and equipment and figure out what we’re building new, what we’re keeping from last year and there’s some uncertainty and unknowns.
 

How is he behind the wheel? It appears he keeps his emotions reigned in.

I think he’s good at that and a benefit yes. I mean everyone gets frustrated in this business, I mean it’s a tough business. You know it’s hard to keep your emotions in check in this business sometimes. Maybe some of that has rubbed off on me because I try to be even-keeled. I think that it’s an asset that you know if you’re having a tirade it’s not really doing anything to help solve the problem you’re having. If you’re going to get through it you have to put some thought into it and he’s very good about that.
 

You said you thought you could help the Hendrick team this year by maybe bringing a new perspective or some added information. Specifically are there things you’ve already been able to bring to the table here in the early going?

Well they struggled last year on their intermediate program and some of the mile-and-a-half tracks and we were able to be pretty successful on what we were doing last year. So that’s one area we’re focusing on. But overall the resources we have to work with and the strength of this organization is something I haven’t really experienced before. Having the stability and the strength of Hendrick behind us is a really good feeling.
 

So what can you guys accomplish in 2012?

Expectations are always high. We think we can contend, win races and when you win races good things happen in the points department. We had a pretty good run last year in some difficult circumstances for a lot of people and we had a good Chase. I’m hoping that momentum can carry over for 2012. We learned a lot last year that will help us this season and hopefully help the entire organization.

Early on we need to get our feet wet and get going, run a few races and see where we're at and see what we've got to work on as we go forward from there. Every place has a little bit different strengths and weaknesses. And we're looking forward to getting going. 

 
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Posted on: February 28, 2012 12:10 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:18 pm
 

Daytona a rough debut for many drivers

By Pete Pistone

140094608
(Patrick and Busch got wadded up early in Monday night's Daytona 500 - Getty Images)


Monday's "Great American Race" was anything but great for a number of drivers making their Sprint Cup debuts with new race teams.

Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch, A.J. Allmendinger and Kasey Kahne made up one quartet that opened the season with disappointing results.

Patrick was swept up into her third crash of Speedweeks when she got clipped by Jimmie Johnson in the lap two melee that broke out on the frontstretch. She was credited with a finish in position 38even after coming back on track later with a severely damaged car to make some extra laps.

“Any lap that I turn is progression, that’s for sure,” Patrick said. “That’s why I was so proud of everyone working so hard. They were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position? No. What there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there. We ran in packs for a while. The car is a little bent up. Honestly, it didn’t feel perfect. So as it got later and later in the race, I didn’t want to have an influence on it. I didn’t want something to happen to it or break and shoot across the track."

Busch was also swept up in that early race altercation and like Patrick soldiered on later with a battered Phoenix Racing Chevrolet trying to make at least a statement for his new organization.

"It was important to not get a DNF for this team to show how much we're all in this together," said Busch. "Not what we wanted for sure but still proud of the effort."

Allmendinger capped a rough Speedweeks that included a crash with his teammate Brad Keselowski earlier in the week with a tough official debut for Penske Racing. Allmendinger's problems took place on pit road in one of the race's many bizarre twists.

“A tire fell off a car that was struggling in front of us on pit road, he stopped – and I ran into him,” a disappointed Allmendinger said.  “Our Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger ran well and it was fast, but we have a 34th-place finish to show for it.  It (stinks) because the guys did a good job.  It was a just a frustrating night for us, but we’ll bounce back strong at Phoenix.”

Kahne is also hoping to have a better weekend in Phoenix, where he won last year for Red Bull Racing, than he did in Daytona. He too had issues on pit road when he sustain damage in an incident that was compounded when Kahne got involved in one of the two late race multi-car accidents.

"Disappointed for sure," said Kahne after finishing in position 29. "Still excited about this team though but ready to head to Phoenix."

 
Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 22, 2012 3:48 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 3:58 pm
 

Kasey Kahne crashes in Daytona practice

By Pete Pistone

   Crew Members
(Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet suffered damage in the crash and he'll run a back-up in the Duel)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Kasey Kahne's Hendrick Motorsports career has gotten off to a rough start.

Kahne followed his accident-marred Budweiser Shootout performance on Saturday with an accident in Wednesday afternoon's second practice session at Daytona International Speedway.

Kahne lost control of his car after slight contact from Juan Pablo Montoya and spun through the infield grass damaging the front end of his Chevrolet.

“I don’t know if he hit me or not but right as he got there, this car started moving all over," said Kahne. "I know I got hit from behind, but I don’t know if it was necessarily him or how it worked. But when he hit me, I was just gone.”

Kahne however didn't blame Montoya for the incident that wound up wrecking the fifth Hendrick car of the weekend after all four entries were damaged in Saturday's Shootout.

"It’s hard to point fingers at anyone, you know? It’s just that everybody is trying to get speed and go," he said. "But I didn’t spin out by myself. But it’s not like he was trying. He was trying to push you and get you going; he just hit me in the wrong spot at the wrong time.”

Crew chief Kenny Francis made the call to pull out the team's back-up ride for Thursday's Gatorade Duel qualifying race.


Daytona Speedweeks
Posted on: February 10, 2012 6:01 pm
 

Kasey Kahne undergoes successful knee surgery

By Pete Pistone

Kasey Kahne is expcted to make a full recovery from Friday morning knee surgery in time for the start of Speedweeks in Daytona next week.

Kahne had an MRI Thursday after experiencing swelling in his left knee. The MRI revealed a torn meniscus, which was treated this morning with a partial medial meniscus removal. Following the common arthroscopic procedure, he was released from an outpatient facility in Charlotte, N.C.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver is expected to practice, qualify and race throughout NASCAR’s season-opening Speedweeks in Daytona. Hendrick has no plans to have a backup driver on standby for the No. 5 Chevrolet.

In April 2011, Kahne had a procedure on his right meniscus and earned a third-place finish the following race at Richmond.


 
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Posted on: February 3, 2012 2:24 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 2:30 pm
 

Hopes high at Hendrick Motorsports

By Pete Pistone


  Rick Hendrick(R), Owner Of Hendrick Motorsports, And Jimmie Johnson, Driver Of The #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet,
(Johnson is hungry to bring Hendrick another Sprint Cup Series championship in 2012 - Getty Images)

Jack Roush
put his entire stable of then five Sprint Cup Series drivers into the 2005 Chase field. 

NASCAR has since forced team owners to dial back to a four-car operation, but Rick Hendrick believes there’s no reason why his whole fleet can’t make this year’s playoffs. 

Optimism always runs high at this time of the season as organizations prepare for the upcoming campaign. But Hendrick is unusually pumped up about the prospects for 2012 and what the quartet of Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and newcomer Kasey Kahne can accomplish. 

I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t have all four cars in the Chase and I’m going to be really disappointed if we don’t win the championship,” Hendrick said. “I can’t remember having four teams this solid, this strong, at the beginning of the year. 


“I think we’re as prepared as we’ve ever been and if we don’t get it, it's going to be our fault.” 

After a season that saw Johnson’s five year reign as Sprint Cup Series champ come to a halt, the entire Hendrick group seems to be re-energized to put the team back on top again in 2012. 

Hendrick’s positive outlook that the goal can be accomplished in due in large part to the elimination of some unknown quantities that lingered heading into the 2011 effort. 

"Looking at last year, I didn't know how Dale and (crew chief) Steve (Letarte) were going to work,” Hendrick said. “I didn't know how Jeff and (crew chief Alan (Gustafson) were going to work. I thought they would be good, and they were much better than I anticipated. 

"I had Mark (Martin), knowing it was his last year. I had Kasey waiting to come. I didn't know if we were going to get (crew chief) Kenny (Francis), and then I get Kenny and their engineer and Kasey, and they are here and they're fitting in like they've been here forever. Then all of the sudden, I know, I've got a better 88 team. I've got a better 24 team. I've got a pissed-off 48 team, and I've got a something-to-prove 5 team with a guy who had one of the best Chases of anybody. So that gives me the confidence that, if we don't blow it up, we're going to be good." 

Johnson has made no bones about the fact that he’s using last year’s result as motivation for the coming season. The anger that came from not having his name engraved on the Sprint Cup trophy for the first time in five seasons is pushing Johnson hard at the dawn of a new year. 

“Yeah, and we're pissed off at ourselves," said Johnson. "There could be a lot of good coming from this." 

Johnson sees it as a time to learn from mistakes and in a way re-invent himself as a driver. 

“Through losing the championship last year, I think I can strip some layers down and figure out how to do things differently,” he said. 

“There’s a lot that I’ve thought about and once I get into the season I’ll know more and really be able to work through those things,” Johnson continued. “But I feel like over the five years of winning championships, there are certain things, even as basic as the way I approach a weekend and the notes I take and what I do from a driver’s standpoint, that’s all been well documented. Every driver does it now. Were they doing it then? No.

“I need to find new ways to do a better job as the driver of the 48 car and that’s what this year is about for me. That’s what this offseason was about for me. Really, the first half of the season is going to be about understanding how I can do my job better.” 

Earnhardt thinks he and the entire No. 88 team can also do better. Although they made tremendous improvements last season in a performance that saw Earnhardt make the Chase and ultimately finish seventh in the final standings, the sport’s Most Popular Driver sees even more success in 2012. 

“We definitely took a step in the right direction with the changes we made last year,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “I don’t know what our potential is past that, but we’re going to work hard to see if we can find it and find more and be more competitive. We were close to winning a few races and hadn’t had that in a long time.

“Working with Steve, he gave me the opportunity, whether it was our strong performance or his strategy, one way or another, he’s given me the chance I didn’t have. I felt closer to winning than I felt before.” 

Gordon was able to win and once he broke the winless drought he was engulfed in the previous season, the four-time champion showed several flashes of brilliance throughout the schedule. 

He also brings a great deal of confidence into 2012 after last season’s effort and shares his employer’s optimism about the entire organization. 

However with that view there does come a bit of stress. 

“I agree with Rick, it’s the strongest combination we’ve ever had coming into a season, and when you see that, it gives you some pretty high expectations and puts the pressure on,” Gordon said. 

Kahne and Francis don’t appear to be feeling any pressure as the new kids in the house. The duo has already made it clear they are quite at home at Hendrick turning in a very impressive Daytona testing performance last month. 

Kahne knows there will be growing pains but believes he is in the best position of his Sprint Cup career to excel.

“It definitely takes time because it's all different,” Kahne said. “The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny, that's something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn't take us too long. 

“The biggest thing is the stability and knowing that I have four years here where I just need to make the best out of it” I need to put all the effort that I have into it. It could be my best four years ever.” 

Hendrick has ten Sprint Cup championship trophies in his possession and the way he sees it not getting number eleven last season may actually have been a good thing overall.

“Getting beat sometimes is not a bad thing,” he said. “If you’re a very competitive company, you got to know you’ve got to work a lot harder to get back to where you were. So we’re motivated.” 

That could be bad news for the rest of the Sprint Cup garage area.

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Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:36 pm
 

Media tour misses key personalities

By Pete Pistone

CHARLOTTE - Not everyone was on hand during this week's annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour in Charlotte.

Several key drivers and team owners were absent due to a variety of reasons.

Roush Fenway Racing drivers Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth weren't present during their team's function. Edwards was out of the country at a pre-planned vacation while Kenseth missed the proceedings due to a family emergency.

Team owner Richard Childress was missing from the trek to his headquarters in Welcome, North Carolina out of a sponsor-related fishing trip.

But Kasey Kahne might have had the best reason to miss the tour as he was fulfilling his civic obligation serving on jurt duty.

“We’re really excited to have Kasey Kahne join our organization,” said Rick Hendrick. “They (Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis) fit in like a glove and we’re really excited to have them added to our organization.”

Naturally, Kahne was the target for a few friendly jokes during the proceedings by his new Hendrick Motorsports teammates Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon.

“For anybody that questions the privileges that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers get along the way and the celebrity that we may have, I think Kasey Kahne is a perfect example,” Gordon said. “Not being able to get out of jury duty is where we stand.” 

 
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