So close, yet so
That about sums up Kasey Kahne’s season so far. Once again,
Kahne saw his opportunity for his first NASCAR Nextel Cup
victory dashed in a shower of sparks despite having a car
that was the class of the field.
Kahne was leading Saturday night’s UAW-GM Quality 500 at
Lowe’s Motor Speedway when a cut right-front tire put him in
the wall and out of the race on lap 269. He had led four
times for 207 laps, and, up until that point, looked
For Kahne and his no. 9 UAW/Dodge Dealers team, it was a
bitter pill to swallow
“I think that was the best car I’ve had in my life compared
to the rest of the field and how well it handled,” Kahne
said following the crash. “We just haven’t been able to
finish it off and win a race, but it was definitely a good
racecar. It’s really disappointing.”
Even Kahne’s fellow competitors believe Kahne was on his way
to a sure victory Saturday.
“He was much faster than anybody,” said Dale Earnhardt, Jr.,
who finished third on Saturday. “If he hadn’t had his
problem, he would have gone to victory lane pretty easily.
When he was out of the race, everybody was back into it.”
“I feel for that team,” said race winner Jimmie Johnson.
“Those guys have been the class of the field at many races.
When they figure out how to make it to the end, they’re
going to be awfully tough.”
It’s all a familiar refrain for Kahne and his team -
California Speedway, ran out of gas. Dover, crashed while
leading. Chicagoland, crashed while leading.
If it wasn’t for bad luck, Kahne has had no luck at all.
In 13 of his 31 starts this season, he’s finishing in the
top-15, finishing second five times this season, coming
within a few feet of his first victory just two races into
his rookie season when Matt Kenseth nipped him at the line
On the other end of the spectrum, he also has 18 finishes of
20th or worse, including five DNF’s.
If not for those poor finishes, Kahne would be right up
there with teammate Jeremy Mayfield as one of the ten
drivers in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. Instead, he’ll be
fortunate to finish 11th in the points.
“You feel like you have such good racecars, so fast, and
then something happens and you don’t win the race,” Kahne
said. “You can’t blame anybody. You can’t throw things. You
just shake it off and go on.”
This week, the Nextel Cup tour moves on to Martinsville,
where Kahne finished 21st last April in his only start at
the .526-mile facility after blowing a tire in the waning
“Martinsville isn’t necessarily on my list of favorite
tracks, but we should run pretty good there – hopefully
better than last time,” Kahne said. “I think we could have
run 15th last time if we hadn’t had that blown tire.
“Jeremy (Mayfield) tested there earlier this month, and we got
some good notes from them. We’ll try to stay focused and see
how it goes.”
Despite the fact that Kahne has never started a Nextel Cup
race at two of the remaining four tracks, he scored his only
NASCAR Busch Series victory last year at Homestead, giving
him reason to be optimistic about his chances for a victory.
“We’re really excited about the four races after
Martinsville,” said Kahne. “We’re disappointed with
Charlotte, but looking forward to those last four races.
Kahne has a solid lead in the rookie of the year battle, and
that award would highlight anyone’s season. But with the
championship out of their reach for 2004, Kahne and his team
have their sights on one goal – a trip to Victory Lane.
“We need to win a race this season, and we need to get
another pole and keep working hard,” Kahne said. “We have a
lot to shoot for this year, but the biggest thing is to win
“As good as we run on and off we definitely deserve to win
sometime. Hopefully it will be before the year is out.”.
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