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Kahne Sounding Oddly Meh On An All-Important Weekend

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 12 2015
Kasey Kahne needs a victory tonight. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kasey Kahne needs a victory tonight. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

Kasey Kahne swore on Friday that despite have a season that is sort of un-Kahne-like and definitely un-Hendrick Motorsports-like and absolutely in need of an 11th-hour miracle to salvage a playoff berth, everthing’s cool.

“I’ve been really calm,” Kahne said prior to the first practice of the weekend for Saturday buganalysisnight’s Chase to the Chase finale at Richmond International Raceway when asked if he was frustrated by his winless, thoroughly blah 2015 season. “See, I kind of live this thing every year. It’s like we’re right on the verge, either in or out each year.”

But it was something else that he said and said repeatedly Friday that may lead Kahne watchers to wonder: What up?

The soft-spoken, usually polite native of laid-back Washington state, has been quick this weekend to point out that the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team’s troubles are not the fault of the driver alone.

“We’ve won here,” the winner of 17 races since his 2004 Cup debut at age 24, said when asked if he could win Richmond and secure a Chase berth, said. “We’ve ran well here. We ran well in the spring. It’s a great track for me and the team. It’s just how much speed will we have? Going off the last five or six races, we haven’t had enough speed. We haven’t had the cars working the way I’ve needed them to work. So, that’s been a bit of a struggle. But those things in racing can change. Just one individual weekend, we can change it all around and be solid. We’ll do the best job we can to have that speed tomorrow night.”

Not exactly a rah-rah speech. In fact, it sounded almost concessionary.

As did this: “We need to win. That’s basically our only way in. And these practices today are key to get the car the best that we can and keep getting it better and better for the rest of the season. It’s not about just today and tomorrow. We need to get better in these final ten races, regardless of being in the Chase or out of the Chase. We need to get better and figure out where we’re lacking, where I’m lacking, and be more prepared when next season starts.”

Kahne went on to struggle in qualifying Friday and will start 20th.

A year ago, Kahne was in a similar situation and managed to pull the rabbit from that hat as he won at Atlanta with two races to go before the Chase.

But oddly enough this year, it sounds as though were he to do that on Saturday night, Kahne would be the most surprised person at Richmond.

Missing the Chase will not be the end of the world for Kahne. It certainly won’t be the end of his days at Hendrick as his contract runs through the 2018 season.

But clearly, everything is not cool with the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick car.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, September 12 2015
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