Sprint Cup Driver Review: Kasey Kahne

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After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.

Collecting two wins this season but finishing 12th in the championship was Kasey Kahne…

KASEY KAHNE
No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2013 Stats: 12th Place, Two Wins, 11 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s, 677 Laps Led
Average Start: 11.6
Average Finish: 16.2
DNFs: 3

Estrada Says: After rising as high as second in the championship early – a rise that was partially fueled by his spring Bristol win, the first of his two in 2013 – Kahne was unable to sustain his momentum and fell into the tooth-and-nail battle between multiple drivers for the final Chase spots. Fortunately for him, he was able to add more post-season insurance in August with a triumph at Pocono. But when it came time to race for a championship, Kahne quickly dropped off the radar following a crash and 37th-place finish at New Hampshire. He still had his moments in the Chase though, with a runner-up at Charlotte and Top-5s at Texas and Phoenix. But overall, his lack of consistency ultimately cancelled out his strong pace in 2013.

DiZinno Says: Arguably the least consistent of Hendrick Motorsports’ quartet in 2013, even if he had higher peaks at times. Kahne and the No. 5 team were rarely able to find the rhythm and avoid prolonged droughts of either bad luck or bad results, or in some instances, both. Kahne has the potential to be a champion but he’s already completed 10 years in the sport, never at a dominant level like any of his three Hendrick teammates have achieved at any point in their careers. You hope he hasn’t reached his career ceiling.

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Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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