Paulk: Kahne still searching for breakthrough season with HMS
Auto Racing Videos
The pressure mounted for Kasey Kahne the moment he signed a lucrative deal with Hendrick Motorsports a couple of Sprint Cup seasons ago.
At 34, Kahne only looks like one of the many young guns of NASCAR. Incredibly, the Washington state native is in his 12th Cup season.
And time has flown by with Kahne mostly underachieving with the most successful Cup team in history. The promise of his talents threatening to dethrone six-time champion Jimmie Johnson as the point man at HMS hasn't been fulfilled.
In reality, no one could have really imagined that scenario. However, Kahne was expected to vault above four-time champion Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Instead, Kahne has fallen into the same trap that gathered up Earnhardt when he left Dale Earnhardt, Inc.. for HMS in 2008. Still, he won two times in both 2012 and 2013 while qualifying for the Chase.
Now, with only 11 races before the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway, Kahne finds himself in the precarious position of failing to make the Chase. He doesn't have the win required to virtually lock up a spot on the 16-car playoff grid.
While Kahne struggles to get onto victory lane, his teammates all have wins. Johnson and Earnhardt both have two wins and are 1-2 on the current grid.
Indeed, the pressure is growing for a driver who won six times in 2005 while driving for Ray Everham.
“Really where we are at right now, as a team, we need to show up each weekend, and put full weekends together; from myself to Kenny (Francis, crew chief) to everybody on our team,” Kahne said. “We all have talked about this all weekend, and all week long leading into this race.”
Kahne will try to secure a playoff spot on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway where he won in 2008.
“We just need to step up, and if we do that, I feel like ‘Yes, there is going to be pressure, we want to be in the Chase,'” he said “But we have fast enough cars. We have all the equipment; everything there to do it.”
“We just need to put those weekends together,” he said. “We need to put ourselves in position, and there is still plenty of time to win races.”
Time is hardly an ally for Kahne. And if he can't get it done before Richmond, then owner Rick Hendrick might have to consider another young gun.
“I like being at HMS. It is just an unbelievable place,” Kahne said. “Getting to work with the three teammates that I get to work with each week is better than anything I've ever done in racing as far as guys I've been able to work with. I am getting information there from three of the best in racing.
“I've enjoyed every bit of it. Mr. Hendrick is always trying to help me as a driver, as a person and he gives us every opportunity. So, I want to be there a long time. We still have a year-and-a-half before my deal is up.”
Ralph N. Paulk is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Popular Super Bowl, March Madness traditions prohibited under state law
- Leader Times roundup: Kittanning girls basketball team rolls past Valley, 61-8
- McGuffey tops Kittanning to reach WPIAL wrestling semifinals
- IRS scam snares another Westmoreland County resident
- Capitals dominate overmatched Penguins in win at Verizon Center
- Super Bowl ads win by playing to viewers’ emotions, experts say
- For Penguins coach Johnston, it’s a matter of substance over style
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- Alibaba ripped in report
- Pa. police departments worry order on criminal seizures hurts bottom line
- Daily Courier roundup: Southmoreland, Mt. Pleasant fall in quarterfinals