Kasey Kahne seeking to put together complete race at Pocono

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Inconsistency has been the story so far this year for Kasey Kahne, who is looking for a complete race this Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Kahne won at Pocono last August to solidify his 2013 Chase chances, but coming into Sunday’s Pocono 400, he’s 18th in the championship and winless while his three Hendrick Motorsports teammates – Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. – have all visited Victory Lane this year.

“I think there has been a touch of bad luck and then we just haven’t put together full races,” Kahne said about his season yesterday.

“We’ve had great practices over the last month, maybe a little more than that. We’ve been really good in practice; great at times during the race, but we haven’t put together the full race.”

“And when we have, it’s been one and then we forget how for the next three, and then come back for the fourth one and run pretty well. That side of it’s been tough and we’re all looking at that together to try to make it better.”

Kahne has earned just one Top-5 result (third, Kansas) in the first half of the regular season, and teammate Johnson noted yesterday that he senses some frustration from the Washington native and his No. 5 Hendrick crew.

That disappointment was acknowledged somewhat by Kahne, but he believes that the 5 team is closer to breaking through than some observers may think.

In the meantime, the team’s mission is cut and dry.

“I look at it as we need to score as many points as we can each week,” Kahne said. “Our stretch of tracks that we run really well at started about three weeks ago. It goes for another month, so hopefully we can hit on something over this little span that we have. We haven’t yet, but we are in a good group of tracks for myself and [crew chief] Kenny [Francis] and our team.

“We just have to do the best we can and hopefully as a group, we figure it out and can start putting full races together. If we can do that, we will be in a good spot in a hurry because of the points system and the way that it is now.”

Kahne will start 27th in tomorrow’s race.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.