Kasey Kahne comes into today’s Coca-Cola 600, being run at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, with his confidence through the roof. Kahne is the defending champion of this race and is looking for his fourth Coca-Cola 600 victory. On top of that, he is in a much better place when it comes to points compared to a year ago.
“I feel like we have a really strong team. We’ve came a long ways. I think our cars are great, the engines run awesome, so it’s ‑‑ there’s just a lot of little things that go along with it. But yeah, I feel like we’re capable of winning Sunday night. I know the pit crew is ‑‑ they had one of the best stops there of the whole night last week when the pressure was on, so all those things add up, and that’s what we’re working on. We want to be in that Chase. We want to make it in there clean and then put the best 10 races we can late in the year together. That’s what everyone wants to do. But yeah, I think winning Charlotte, I think running up front in Charlotte, those races, the 600, that tells a lot about where your guys are at and where you’re headed for the next half of the season,” Kahne told reporters Thursday from the track.
The longer the race, it seems the more Kahne steps up his game. In particular, as noted above, the 600 has been a race he’s excelled in.
“I think for whatever reason, longer races for me, I feel like I’ve done a little better in over the years, 500‑mile races, 600 miles, and it gives you more time to work on your car, gives you more time to kind of fine‑tune and get it as perfect as you can for those last 50 to 100 miles. So yeah, I’ve always really liked the longer races. There’s times when you wish the race was over because it gets so long. But for whatever reason the 600 has always been one of my favorite races and I just think because there’s a lot of communication going on where you need a good crew chief and good engineer,” Kahne explained.
One thing that has helped Kahne stay so successful has been working with crew chief Kenny Francis. The pair have worked together with three different organizations since 2006.
I’d say we’re both pretty ‑‑ just kind of mellow and just kind of understand ‑‑ like I understand what he puts into the sport, I understand what he puts into the 5 car, into Hendrick Motorsports, and there would be really no one else I would want to work with than Kenny. Because we’re kind of mild‑mannered we get along really well and we don’t ‑‑ we just understand each other, no reason to yell and scream at each other. We work things through kind of up front and figure it out and move on. I don’t know, I think we both have a lot of respect for each other is a big part of it,” commented Kahne.
He and Francis will look to capture his fourth Coca-Cola 600 trophy tonight starting at 6 PM EST and that race can be seen on FOX.