One of the first drivers to bolt from the Michigan International Speedway garage on Saturday was Kasey Kahne.
Kahne, who starts third in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400, posted the second-fastest time in Happy Hour and the best 10-consecutive-lap average in both second (197.383 mph) and final practice (196.046 mph).
Kahne needs a solid run after he finished 36th at Pocono last week. The No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy developed what he initially believed to be drivetrain issues on the first lap.
So does Kahne believe he can win Sunday?
“Yeah, I feel like it,” Kahne said. “But track position will be pretty big, though, because the fast guys are all going to be so close. It’s going to be hard to just drive by Jimmie Johnson if he’s leading or Kurt Busch or one of the other guys because their speeds are so good. I think definitely on a long run, we’ll be just as good as anyone.”
Kahne’s only win at MIS came in this race in 2006, when he won from the pole. In 18 starts, the 33-year-old Enumclaw, Wash., native has seven top-five and eight top-10 finishes.
Kahne’s Hendrick Motorsports crew concentrated on fuel runs during the morning practice and “all speed and car stuff” in Happy Hour when conditions on the track more closely resembled the race.
As temperatures rose in the afternoon and the track rubbered in, several drivers, including Kahne’s teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr., complained of the car chattering on the track. Kahne experienced one episode, but had the car dialed in when practice ended.
“I don’t know why some guys were chattering,” Kahne said. “I chattered one time, but we were able to get it out of it. But chatter is bad. You chatter and it’s just not turning and it takes too long to get through the corner, back to the throttle and down the straightaway.
“We’re good, really balanced. Something we can work with throughout the whole race and keep under us.”