By: Pete Pistone – @PPistone | MRN.com on April 29, 2017 | 10:08 A.M. EST
“We had a strong car and we have had some strong cars this year and look forward to having another strong car on Sunday.” (Photo: Getty Images)
Kasey Kahne looks to shake his early season doldrums in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
The Hendrick Motorsports driver is back in the 17th spot of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings after the season’s first eight races. What started as a promising year with a solid run in the Daytona 500 has morphed back to the disappointment that has plagued Kahne in recent seasons.
He has one top-five and a couple top-10 so far this year in a campaign that has seen its share of misfortune most recently last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. Kahne was running at the front of the field in Monday’s rain-delayed Food City 500 until a tire issue forced him to pit road and took him from contention.
“I was really happy and then I felt a vibration and then four laps later I had to pit because it was getting worse really quick,” Kahne said. “I tried staying out for a second and it was not good on the right rear. We had to pit, went two laps down, which isn’t that bad to have a pit stop, four tires and only lose two laps at Bristol as quick as that. Maybe I was more than that I thought I was two, but maybe I was more, I don’t know.
“Anyways, yeah, that is where we ended. Rough finish, but we had a strong car and we have had some strong cars this year and look forward to having another strong car on Sunday.”
Kahne fans can find some optimism in the driver’s recent track record at the .75-mile Richmond short track. He had two top-10 finishes last year including a fourth in the 2016 edition of the spring race.
The experience provides a boost of confidence to Kahne.
“Yeah, I think every year is a little different, but I know that these were two of my best races last year,” Kahne said on Friday. “I’ve enjoyed racing here and felt good in practice today, so I think all that builds and it counts as something. I feel like we could have a good result on Sunday.
“I think, I was looking at our car and our set-up’s and things are very similar to where we were last year. So, we will just kind of fine tune on that tomorrow and hopefully get things right. This should be a good show for us.”
Kahne is hoping the track will create multiple grooves as the weekend wears on with racing again taking place in the daylight after a move from night racing that had been the norm for Richmond until last year. If that happens, he thinks his chances Sunday become even better to bring home a much-needed good finish.
“It is going to move way up,” he said of the groove. “So, it will be just like, I think, you know last year we raced on Sunday and I feel like maybe two years before that we had a rain delay that went on a Sunday and both those races to me were two of the best races at Richmond over the last few years. I think it’s going to be a really good show on Sunday, myself.”
Motor Racing Network – “The Voice of NASCAR” will have live coverage of Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400, beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) – with live streaming at MRN.com and on the MRN App.