Kasey Kahne’s near-miss last weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was surely a bitter pill to take at the time. But today at Pocono Raceway, Kahne said that the Brickyard 400 was still good for him and the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team in many ways.
“I think it was good for me to lead laps,” said Kahne, who led a race-high 70 laps at Indy but finished sixth after losing the lead to Jeff Gordon on a restart with 17 laps to go.
“We hadn’t done a whole lot of that this season. To lead a lot of laps at Indianapolis and run up front throughout the whole race was good for my confidence. What I liked the most about the entire weekend was the team stepped up. It was the first time of the season we have put a full race together. From me driving to them on pit road to pit calls, everything about it was right.
“That is something that we haven’t done this year. We haven’t even come close to doing that. It was a big weekend for all of us and we got some momentum out of it, some confidence I think on all of our parts. Hopefully, we can carry that into this weekend and especially Sunday.”
Kahne would later qualify 12th on Friday for Sunday’s GoBowling.com 400, which he won one year ago. That victory proved vital in him making last year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Now, Kahne hopes that the Tricky Triangle will once again help him get into the post-season. With six races remaining in the regular season, Kahne is four points behind Austin Dillon for the 16th and final spot on the Chase Grid.
But while Kahne will be putting everything he has into winning on Sunday, he does feel confident of his chances in the rest of the regular season races – save for perhaps the road course at Watkins Glen International, which comes up next weekend.
“Not counting wrecks or any bad luck or that stuff, just straight-up average finish, I think Watkins Glen is one of my tougher tracks,” he said of the Glen, where he’s never finished in the Top-10 in 10 career Cup starts (top finish of 13th in 2012). “It’s going to be a place that we need to work really hard on to perform next week.
“After that, Michigan, Bristol, Atlanta, Richmond…All those tracks, we have won at and ran really well at. I look forward to each one of those and feel like we can definitely still make the Chase if we don’t do it this weekend.”