Kahne Opens Busy NASCAR Test Week At Kentucky Speedway
Less than 24 hours after driving to his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series top-five finish with Evernham Motorsports at Rockingham, N.C., Kasey Kahne shifted his focus to his NASCAR Busch Series Akins Motorsports team during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway today.
Kahne, who missed his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series win by crossing the North Carolina Speedway finish line just .010 of a second behind Matt Kenseth yesterday, will attempt to drive the full NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedules this season.
After winning the Busch Series season finale at Homestead-Miami last November, the 23-year-old switched from Ford to Dodge, was named the successor to Bill Elliot in the No. 9 Evernham Motorsports NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series machine and became the subject of SPEED Channel's new behind-the-scenes reality series, "Busch 24/7."
"There's been a lot more going on, a lot more media and a lot more attention. Moving into the NEXTEL Cup Series is a big jump," Kahne said. "The Busch Series is a great series with a lot of good drivers and good teams, but NEXTEL Cup is the ultimate level. It's been a lot of fun and if we keep running well it'll stay fun. If we don't, it won't be quite as fun and it'll be harder to do some of that stuff."
Kahne will enter his March 6-7 races at Las Vegas with different series teams producing different results.
His runner-up NASCAR NEXTEL Cup series finish helped him vault 20 positions in the series standings to 21st.
"It's great how Ray Evernham and Bill Elliott are helping me at all times. Working with Tommy Baldwin as a crew chief is pretty awesome. All three of them have a lot of knowledge. Tommy listens to me and I listen to him, so we learn a lot from each other. It's really worked well that way," Kahne said. "The same race team is pretty much there that was so good and so dominant last year with Bill. We've had some really good tests, so things are looking really good on the Cup side. I've learned a lot as a driver. The team has stuck together, is working hard together and having fun together. It's going to pay off. I think Las Vegas is going to be another great race for us. We're going to go test Atlanta and hopefully keep some momentum rolling. We have a strong team and a strong crew chief so we hope to just keep learning and stay up front."
His NASCAR Busch Series team is currently operating with a "crew chief by committee" and stands 34th in the points race after qualifying ninth and finishing 43rd at Daytona, and qualifying fourth and finishing 26th at Rockingham. Kahne's No. 38 Great Clips Dodge was involved in a multiple-car incident at Daytona and was hit from the rear on pit road at Rockingham.
After finishing seventh in the series standings last season, Kahne expressed frustration with his 2004 start.
"It's been really up and down. It's frustrating at times. Everyone is working hard, trying hard and making good decisions. It's been a matter of being in the wrong spot at the wrong time so far," Kahne said. "We need to get a crew chief. This committee thing works for a week or so, but then it no longer works. We have the people in place. We just have to get set up that way. We definitely have a good team. We need some luck and need to get racing."
NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams scheduled to test at Kentucky Speedway later this week include Robert Yates Racing (Dale Jarrett) on Feb. 24-25; Penske South (Rusty Wallace), Petty Enterprises (Jeff Green) and Andy Petree Racing (Paul Menard) on Feb. 25; and PPI Motorsports (Ricky Craven) and Petty Enterprises (Jeff Green) on Feb. 26. Fans can view testing from the Turn 3 Fan Center.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~