Kahne still digging for first Sprint Cup title
Kasey Kahne isn’t ready to declare the Chase for the Sprint Cup title a two-man race between Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski just yet.
That wouldn’t make sense with the way Kahne is running now, his spot in the standings and the tracks that remain for the final three races.
Kahne still thinks that he and his No. 5 HendrickCars.com/Great Clips Chevrolet still have a chance to win a title in his first year with Hendrick Motorsports.
“I’ll leave the other teams and their performances to them,” Kahne said. “As far as myself and my team, there are three really good tracks for us remaining. We’ve run well at them. We have to try and capitalize and run as well as we can. It would be great to get a win and try and get as many points as we can. We still feel like we have a shot.”
While some Chase drivers have run themselves out of title contention, Kahne isn’t one of them. He hasn’t won a Chase race, but he’s finished in the top eight in five of the seven Chase races and his worst finish is 15th.
He heads to Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway off of finishes of fourth and third to put him fourth in points, just 29 behind leader Johnson.
It won’t be an easy task to overtake Johnson, Keselowski and third-place Clint Bowyer but the confidence he has should help.
“Momentum definitely carries over a lot in racing,” he said. “We have a lot of confidence and momentum right now. We show up to the track and feel like we’re in the mix. I like our position.”
The 1-1/2 mile quadoval at TMS only buoy’s Kahne’s confidence.
Kahne won at TMS in the spring of 2006 and finished third last fall. His first race at the track with Hendrick Motorsports netted him a seventh-place finish in the spring.
“I’ve always really liked Texas,” said Kahne, who has wins at New Hampshire and Charlotte this year. “I like the speed there. The track is awesome. It’s kind of grown to have some rough spots on the racetrack. You slide around a little more. The wind blows and it can mess with your entry to the corners. It’s a tough place but it’s I really enjoy racing there. I’m excited this year especially.”
Kahne may be excited about Texas, but he knows he won’t be getting much help from his Hendrick Motorsports teammates before the race. All three of them are also in the Chase and have their own agendas for the stretch run.
That doesn’t mean they still can’t learn from each other though.
“Everyone’s for themselves but we’re still a four-car team,” Kahne said. “You know what they are doing because all of us are in there. We’ve got four groups getting after it, figuring out their best balance. Everyone’s racing for something but it helps us all perform better.”
Even though Kahne has ground to make up, he’s not going to change his approach for Sunday’s race. He wants to lead as many laps as he can, get as many points as possible and try to close the gap.
It makes no sense to go for broke and dash his title hopes.
“The guys ahead of me are going to be doing the same thing,” he said. “That’s the same mindset we’re on. You can’t really afford to give up any points. We’re just going to go hard and see what happens.”