A fifth-place finish might not be the best result, but for Kasey Kahne and his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team it was a great finish after a potentially disastrous start to the day.
Starting 13th, Kahne’s day at Michigan International Speedway got off to an eventful start on Lap 8 when rookie Kyle Larson lost control of his No. 42 Chevrolet coming off Turn 2. Kahne scrambled to avoid hitting Larson and the other cars in the pack, spinning out in the process.
While the No. 5 Chevrolet did not sustain any significant damage in the early incident, it put the team behind the eight ball to start the race.
Working on the car and staying patient, Kahne and his Kenny Francis-led team were able to play the strategy right and be up front at the end of the day.
When teammate Jimmie Johnson took the checkered flag to win Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400, Kahne crossed the line in fifth, just his second top-five finish of the year.
"It was tough earlier," Kahne said. "I was just kind of floating on entry and back in the pack I was floating all over the place, so it was out of control.
"Struggled for a while, then we got it and was on a good strategy at the end," he said. "I felt like we were pretty competitive with the guys in front of us."
While the other three Hendrick Motorsports drivers have all notched wins thus far in the season, Kahne has lagged behind in both performance and luck. Kahne already has two DNFs and has finished outside the top 20 in five of the first 15 races.
However, Kahne does not feel Sunday’s top-five finish is enough to silence the critics.
"They probably don’t all need to be silenced after one good run," Kahne said. "We just have ran too bad the first 14-15 races and hopefully this can get us going and we can get strong from here, make some points up, get a win and make the Chase. That’s all we can really shoot for at this point."