HAMPTON, Ga. — Kasey Kahne’s day at Atlanta Motor Speedway Sunday began as a uphill climb from the 29th-starting position, but it ended with a strong top-five finish.
With the torrid pace race leader Kevin Harvick was running, Kahne fell a lap down to the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford before the completion of stage one. It didn’t hinder the No. 5 team, however, as Kahne fought his way back to the lead lap and good pit stops late put the three-time Atlanta winner in position for a fourth-place showing.
After missing the playoffs the past two years, Kahne begins 2017 strong, having scored top-10 finishes in the first two races of the season.
“We weren’t anywhere in the mix until about halfway and then our lap times were pretty close after that and once we started getting further up, we got better,” Kahne said. “We just missed it early pretty bad so we just got to keep working at it, figuring it out. The adjustments today were perfect and got us back to where we could actually race and contend for a top-five. That was really nice.”
The story of the day was the copious amounts of speeding penalties on pit road, but Kahne was the lone Hendrick driver not to get a speeding ticket in the 500-mile race.
“I was probably like way too slow on pit road today,” Kahne said. “I was probably being way too careful. They told me a few times guys got caught speeding in section 1 (and) section 2, so I was just pretty careful. The last thing I needed was a speeding penalty trying to fight back the whole race. I took my time but I’m glad we didn’t speed.”
“Our final pit stop was great and got in-and-off pit road really well so we did pit and get some cars there. Pit road was kind of wild. Last week, I think everyone was two miles per hour from speeding and then this week, everybody’s like right at it. I think all the teams pushed a little harder this week after last week’s times.”
Kahne then expounded on his opinion of what caused the bulk of the speeding penalties.
“You learn a little bit from calibration looking at your speeds compared to what you know what you were doing on your dash, but also the first couple weeks it’s easy to run past your speed and then come back. You’re just not super fluent with it … and it’s really a fine-line if you’re running right at that miles per hour.”
Kahne has had success at AMS, being only one of two drivers to win from the pole in the last 25 years. His win there in 2014 put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the playoffs before the No. 5 car got eliminated in the Round of 12 in the playoffs.
After Sunday’s cup race at Atlanta, Kahne now sits ninth in points, the highest the 36-year-old driver has been in the standings since June of 2015.
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is a freelance writer and Northeast Correspondent for Race Chaser Online who broke into racing in mid-2001, as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 24-year-old is a graduate of Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
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