To win the Coca-Cola 600, you have to go through Kasey Kahne.
Kahne has threatened to usurp the title of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s master driver from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson with his performance in the nightcap of Memorial Day Sunday. Johnson has more wins in total at the track (six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races, plus four All-Star race wins), but Kahne has more recently.
Kahne won his first race for Hendrick this race a year ago. He also won at CMS in 2006 and 2008.
“It’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Kahne said last year, as he’d gotten off to a rough start to his season in the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet.
Coupled with crew chief Kenny Francis, Kahne is one of two big favorites to capture the win in NASCAR’s longest race. The other, of course, is Johnson, who had won three straight Coca-Cola 600s from 2003 to 2005.
The car has changed for NASCAR this year in Charlotte, but chances are high the winner won’t.
The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.
“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.
“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”
Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.
He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.
The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.
“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.
“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”
Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.
A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.