Tag Archives: Kenny Francis

Kasey Kahne Has to Excel at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Kasey Kahne will not make the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup unless he either wins a race or has some of the best runs of his career at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway the next two weeks.

When Kasey Kahne moved to Hendrick Motor Sports it was full of promise after bouncing around from some teams that were in a transition and struggling. That was indeed the case as Kahne won two races each of the last two years. He also made the Chase both years finishing fourth in 2012 and twelfth in 2013. This year is a different story.

To date Kahne has only two top five finishes and nine top ten finishes. The two prior years he had seven and eight top five finishes at this point in the season. Looking at top ten finishes his statistics don’t look as bad. He currently has nine compared to eleven and thirteen at this point the two prior seasons. Unfortunately top ten finishes don’t win Championships in the Sprint Cup Series, it takes top five finishes and wins.

Kahne’s other teammates Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. are having one of the best seasons of their careers. Jimmie Johnson isn’t having a great season but not a bad one either.

What do they need to fix? Well that is not apparent at all. In some races they run great but either get caught up in something or have something break to ruin it. In other races Kahne looks like he is driving for a different team than Hendrick Motor Sports.

The current points leader and favorite to win the Sprint Cup, Jeff Gordon’s team and cars are prepared in the same shop as Kahne’s by the same people. This leads to further head scratching. What happened to the adage “A rising tide lifts all boats”?

Kasey Kahne, Kenny Francis his crew chief and his whole team must perform flawlessly the next two races or they will not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Although a couple of top five finishes might get them in by points that will only happen if more than one of the drivers ahead in points has a disastrous race. He must win to get in the Chase.

We’re in a tough spot still because we need maximum points every week and we also need a win to secure our spot in the Chase, but we’ve had pretty fast cars and the team has been doing a much better job,” Kahne said. “I think all of us communicating and working together, it’s been better for the last month, month-and-a-half than what it was earlier in the season. We just have to do the same thing, but we need to max our points each weekend and go for wins. Hopefully between one of those we can work our way in.

Kahne’s driver’s rating of 86 at Atlanta Motor Speedway isn’t the best but he does have two wins there.

As Kasey Kahne said they are in a tough spot. In reality based on past performance they have not been able to put two great races together this year. No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS team has a big hill to climb but it isn’t out of the question.

The second to last race to the Chase will be at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday, August 31st. If you cannot get to Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Oral-B USA 500 it will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 7:30 PM ET.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit: 289672 Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Kasey Kahne has the Formula for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

Kasey Kahne was on track fighting for the million dollars in the NASCAR All-Star race only to see it slip away on some speedy dry. This week NASCAR and Kasey Kahne get back to business at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600.

The Charlotte Motor Speedway is one of the faster of the 1.5 mile speedways. The speed comes from the 24 degrees of banking in the corners. This race is one of the most prestigious of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Schedule. It is also the longest race of the season at 600 miles or 400 laps. If the length of the race isn’t enough the race also is a test of crew chief because it starts during the day and finishes at night. The driver and team who can keep up with the changes in the track while still staying at the front will win this race.

The driver ratings for this track shouldn’t be a surprise to any NASCAR fan. Jimmie Johnson has a commanding rating of 111.1 and has won six times. This of course used to be the house of Johnson but he hasn’t won here since 2009 and his record streak ended in 2005.

Kyle Busch is next in the driver ratings at 107.5. Great stats but Busch hasn’t been able to make those stats work for him for a whole race and win at Charlotte.

The next driver by driver ratings is Kasey Kahne at 102.6. His rating, though not as high as Johnson’s, are still pretty good. He has four wins, the most recent coming in this race in 2012.

Kasey Kahne and his crew chief Kenny Francis have not been getting it done this season. This hasn’t been lost on them. They have been working diligently at fixing it. They think they figured out something during the Kansas race.

Well we had to really sit down and talk about things together and get back on the same page.  There were a lot of things we were thinking differently on the first six to seven weeks of the year.” Kahne added, “We have spent a lot more time the last month and a half together and figuring this out than what we had early in the year when we were maybe thinking different directions and things with the car, adjustments and set-up’s for each track.  I feel like our relationship is still really good and because we have that we have been able to figure it out and do enough testing and things to get back on track.

It is apparent that something is working. A third place finish at Kansas plus wining two of the four segments in the All-Star race they have definitely improved. They are going to need better communication for this race more than any other.

Kahne said, “Patience. I think you have to have patience. Last year, I enjoyed leading when it was sunny out and leading at night so just being able to find that balance, work with it, work with your car, communicate well and work with the team throughout the whole race is key. And then you need the team to step up, too.  We need to have great pit stops, and we need a great car when we start the race. If we have all that, we’ll have a shot to win our fourth 600.

Here are some other stories in the race to watch. Kurt Busch will be running in the Indianapolis 500 before the Coca-Cola 600. He is the first driver to race in all 1100 miles of racing, the double as it’s called since John Andretti in 2007.

Look for special car paint schemes in honor of our veterans for Memorial Day.

Kasey Kahne is currently 16th in points but just out of the Chase. He wants to become the 10th new winner and race his way into the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He is off to a great start by qualifying for the third spot.

If you cannot get to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Coca-Cola 600 it will be broadcast live on FOX on Sunday May 25th starting at 5:30 PM.

Brian Berg Jr. is a NASCAR writer for BehindPitRow.com.

Feature Photo Credit HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Charlotte
Jimmie Johnson                                111.1
Kyle Busch                          107.5
Kasey Kahne                      102.6
Matt Kenseth                    96.0
Denny Hamlin                    93.4
Greg Biffle                          91.4
Carl Edwards                      89.8
Jeff Gordon                        88.8
Joey Logano                       87.3
Kurt Busch                          84.7
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (18 total) among active drivers at Charlotte Motor Speedway.