5 – Kasey Kahne
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
Crew Chief: Kenny Francis
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Best Finish: 4th (2012)
Chase History: 5th Chase Appearance, Best finish of 4th in 2012
Regular Season Recap: Kasey Kahne has had one of his worst seasons to date, but with his win at Atlanta, he made the Chase, thus assuring that all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers will be in the playoffs. Prior to his win at Atlanta, Kahne struggled unmercifully, with just two top-five finishes before he finally took a checkered flag in 2014. But he’s become the poster boy for NASCAR’s catchy new Chase slogan: Win and you’re in. Will the momentum Kahne got from Atlanta carry over to the Chase? Time will tell. But up to now, he’s only had one decent finish in the Chase in his career.
Jerry’s Take: Kahne is another one of those drivers for whom greatness has long been predicted, but unfortunately his results haven’t quite matched that optimism. There’s no question that he needs to greatly improve his performance because he knows all too well that 18-year-old Nationwide Series phenom Chase Elliott is waiting in the wings.
Can Kahne be a potential Cinderella in the upcoming Chase? Sure, there’s a possibility, but he’ll need to drive like he’s never driven before. He’ll also need to be more aggressive to win because if he doesn’t, he has so much more to lose.
Essentially, Kahne needs to reinvent himself for the Chase, which is not an easy task, let alone to actually pull it off successfully. If he can get past the first round of eliminations, that would be a start.
Chris’s Take: As I wrote earlier this week, Kahne is a relevant driver once again after winning at Atlanta to make the post-season. But this is the time where he needs to make a true impact and, at the least, prove that he can stack up against his superstar teammates at Hendrick Motorsports. Getting through the Challenger Round will be critical, but if he can do that, Kahne has an genuine opportunity to advance from the Contender Round with a fifth victory at Charlotte.
Tony’s Take: Kahne avoided the ignominy of missing the Chase considering his teammates all locked themselves in a while back. Sad to say but I think the Atlanta win is as good as it’s going to get for the driver of the No. 5 car.
There’s been little to nothing, consistency or big results-wise, that has shown Kahne as a title contender. He may make it out of the Challenger round, but he is highly likely to be the first of the Hendrick drivers eliminated from this year’s Chase.
Kasey Kahne’s Career Statistics at Chase Tracks
Chicagoland (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 2 Top-5s, 3 Top-10s in 10 starts
New Hampshire (1 mile) – One win, 3 Top-5s, 8 Top-10s in 21 starts
Dover (1 mile) – Zero wins, 1 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 21 starts
Kansas (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 4 Top-5s, 7 Top-10s in 14 starts
Charlotte (1.5 mile) – Four wins, 9 Top-5s, 12 Top-10s in 21 starts
Talladega (2.66 mile) – Zero wins, 3 Top-5s, 5 Top-10s in 21 starts
Martinsville (half-mile) – Zero wins, 3 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s in 21 starts
Texas (1.5-mile) – One win, 4 Top-5s, 10 Top-10s in 18 starts
Phoenix (1 mile) – One win, 4 Top-5s, 7 Top-10s in 20 starts
Homestead-Miami (1.5 mile) – Zero wins, 1 Top-5s, 4 Top-10s in 10 starts