This preview takes a look at Hendrick Motorsports driver Kasey Kahne. Kahne will be piloting the #5 Quaker State Chevrolet in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Milestone Start: Kasey Kahne is set to make his 300th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series when he lines up for Sunday’s race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet has started every Cup event since making his Series debut at the 2004 Daytona 500, and he ranks 12th among active Cup drivers with 299 consecutive starts. This weekend, Kahne’s Chevrolet will carry a special decal over the door to commemorate the milestone event.
Kahne at Charlotte: Nearly every statistical category at Charlotte Motor Speedway ranks as a personal best for Kahne, who has competed in 16 Cup events at the 1.5-mile oval. Kahne’s three wins are a personal best, while his six top-five finishes are tied for first with Atlanta Motor Speedway and Michigan International Speedway. Kahne has completed 96.5 percent of laps he has attempted at Charlotte and has led a personal best 711 laps at the track. His 13.4 average finish at Charlotte is his best among tracks where Kahne has run multiple events.
Top 10 Streak: An eighth-place finish at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway kept Kahne’s streak of top-10s alive, and the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet now owns a career-best five straight top-10s. He previously achieved four consecutive top-10s in 2011 and twice in 2006.
Best Qualifier: With his third-place qualifying run at Darlington, Kahne improved his season average starting position to 7.1. He remains the best driver in that category in the first 11 races this year. Kahne has now started a career-best 10 consecutive races in the top-10.
Points Report: Kahne improved three more positions in the Sprint Cup standings after finishing ninth in the Southern 500 on May 12 at Darlington. He now ranks 16th, 54 points behind 10th-place Carl Edwards. Kahne has advanced 15 spots in the standings during the last five races.
Chassis Choice: For Sunday’s race, crew chief Kenny Francis has selected Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-724. This is a new car that has not been tested or raced.
Driver Rating: Kahne’s average driver rating in points-paying events at Charlotte during the last seven years ranks him fourth among competitors in that timeframe with a score of 94.8. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
Loop Data: In the last seven 600-mile events at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kahne ranks in the top-10 in nearly every category measured by NASCAR loop data. He is first among active drivers for green-flag passes with 1,141. Kahne ranks third for both laps led (499) and fastest laps run (364). He has the fourth-highest average running position (13.386) and ranks sixth for laps in the top-15 with 3,003 total.
Hendrick at Charlotte: In 56 events (187 starts) at Charlotte, Hendrick Motorsports has 16 wins, which ranks as the best all-time among teams at the 1.5-mile oval. Jimmie Johnson owns six of those victories, which ties him for most wins all-time at Charlotte with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip. Jeff Gordon’s five wins tie him for second all-time. Hendrick Motorsports has 49 top-five finishes and 75 top-10s and has led 3,829 laps at Charlotte since 1984. Johnson most recently won this race from the pole position in October 2009.
Four in a Row: Since claiming its 200th Sprint Cup victory on May 12 at Darlington Raceway, Hendrick Motorsports has won every event held by NASCAR’s elite series. The No. 48 team claimed the organization’s first victory in the NASCAR Pit Crew Challenge last week, and Earnhardt followed that with a win in the Sprint Showdown. Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint All-Star event last Saturday.
Kasey Kahne on Charlotte: “Charlotte has been a great track for us during my career. We tend to put together strong races there. It was great to be fast at the All-Star race, even in a backup car. I think we learned a lot during practice and the All-Star race that will help us this weekend. But the 600 is a really long night. We have to keep making good adjustments and be consistent.”
Kasey Kahne on his current top 10 streak: “I’m glad we’ve found some good luck and some good finishes, but I know we can be better. I can give better information to Kenny (Francis, crew chief) to make the cars better, and we need to be more consistent on pit road. We’ve turned a corner, but we can still get more.”