Kasey Kahne looking for more Loudon magic

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Compared to the majority of Sprint Cup tracks, Kasey Kahne reckons that New Hampshire Motor Speedway is “a little different.” And as he comes back to the “Magic Mile” to defend his Camping World RV Sales 301 title, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is hoping for different luck to go with it.

Kahne was contending for victory in the final laps last weekend at Daytona International Speedway until teammate Jimmie Johnson blocked a charging Marcos Ambrose, who then went into Kahne and sent him skidding into the inside backstretch wall. It continued a string of tough results for the Enumclaw, Washington native, who has only collected two Top-10s – and six results outside the Top 20 – in the last ten events.

Luckily for Kahne, his victory earlier this year at Bristol has kept him in one of the two wild card spots for the Chase. But a little insurance wouldn’t hurt, and another victory at Loudon would be useful in cementing his place in this year’s playoffs. Last summer in the Granite State, he converted a front-row start into a win on the flat mile, pacing 66 laps along the way.

“It’s fun to race at tracks that are a little different so I like New Hampshire,” Kahne said earlier this week. “It’s a flat, one-mile track, and you drive the car a lot different there with the braking and the way you pick up the throttle.

“I feel like Turn 3 is probably the toughest part of New Hampshire because it’s rough getting into the corner, which makes it easy to lock up your brakes, get loose or slide the car over the bumps. So just trying to really work on that through practice and not give up anywhere else in the corner is usually key for me there.”

Kahne will start eighth in tomorrow’s race at NHMS as one of three Hendrick Motorsports competitors within the Top 10 of the grid (Dale Earnhardt Jr., third; Jeff Gordon, fifth). This morning in final practice, he was ninth (132.757 mph) in the session, which was led by Brian Vickers (133.417 mph).

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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