The 2011 season has not gone according to plan for Kasey Kahne and his new team. Kahne had high hopes and a positive outlook starting with Hendrick Motorsports and joining one of NASCAR’s top teams. Unfortunately for him, all has not gone according to plan. So far this season, Kahne has not finished anywhere inside of the top ten and has had one DNF. His best finish this season is 14th at Fontana, after the rain was delayed shortly after the midway point.
After confusion among the team at Bristol Motor Speedway, there has been a spotter change to the No. 5 Chevrolet. Kahne’s spotter, and cousin, Kole Kahne will be taking a break from his spotter duties and Shannon Mcglamery will be filling in for him. Kahne’s reason for the shakeup is to initiate change and see how it plays out on track.
“I would say it’s something I wanted to do, something different. I was a little unpleased after California. We are just looking at something for a couple of weeks. We are going to see after Texas. We are going to sit down and decide if that is the direction I want to go or if I feel comfortable with Kole doing it again or what.”
This leaves everyone wondering, is it harder to make that decision when it’s family? “Yeah, but I’ve worked with family since I started. We have had our up’s and down’s over the years and sometimes maybe things don’t seem right at first but they’ve always seemed to work out. We figure out what is best for all of us and go on and make it work” Kahne said.
I believe waiting is the key for Kahne to be sure his decision is the right one and to see if change is what the team needs. Something needs to be done for the team to get better finishes, and the team is going to be shook up piece by piece to figure out where the weak element is.
It was announced this week that Kahne will be racing in the Camping World Truck Series race at Rockingham in April. He will be doing double duty that weekend, participating in the Cup race at Texas, then flying home and completing in the truck race the following day. Brad Sweet will take the reins of his truck for qualifying and practice. Kahne is confident that Sweet will have the ability to make the truck fast for the race. “Turner Motorsports has three really good solid truck teams that can all work together. I feel like it will have a really good set-up in it on Sunday when I get there”, Kahne said.
Looking on the up-side of the season, Kahne will be going to Texas in a few weeks, a track where he has won at and is confident with. “I’ve always liked going to Texas and racing out there. As fast as our cars are on that type of race track we have learned some things at Vegas that we did in the race that weren’t as good as what I would have liked. We should have easily run in the top-5 that day if we didn’t get in that wreck at the end. I think Texas will be similar to that and we can kin of make gains from where we were at Vegas and have a shot at having a solid top-five.”
Focusing on this weekend, I asked Kahne what he hopes to improve on in regards to the rest of the season and what he can improve on specifically for Martinsville. “This track is so much different. Every time you go to Martinsville you try to improve on the last time you were here. We were pretty good here last year, both races. We didn’t have good finishes because we got caught in other people’s wrecks, but we actually had really fast cars. You wouldn’t know that by looking at results, but I know it because I drove them.
Now we get to work with Jimmie (Johnson) and Jeff (Gordon) and Dale (Earnhardt Jr.), how they do things here and they always run really well here. It’s just trying to get better from how we were last year here. “He continued to say that preparing for this track is now different than preparing for any other track.
Kahne will go into Sunday at Martinsville with hopes of finishing the race and attempting to bring home Hendrick Motorsports’ 200th win for the organization. Kahne’s stats at this track include one Top 5 and two top ten finishes.