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Frustrated Kahne Finds Some Relief in Pocono

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LONG POND, Pa. – Despite the intensity of having survived a fuel mileage race, Kasey Kahne was finally breathing easy after 400 miles at Pocono Raceway.

Kahne made it to the checkered flag sixth in the Axalta “We Paint Winners” 400 before running out of gas on the cool-down lap in Turn 3. His Hendrick Motorsports team needed to push him down pit road and when Kahne finally climbed out of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet he was quick to compliment the car to crew chief Keith Rodden.

“The car was really solid. It was fun to drive, good to drive all day long, so I enjoyed that side of it,” Kahne said. “I think we can take something very similar to Michigan next week, to me, it’s a similar racetrack in a lot of ways so hopefully this will work next week as well. But I was really happy with our Farmers Insurance Chevrolet and the team.”

Aside from an early speeding penalty, Kahne had a much-needed quiet day on Monday afternoon. It’s been a rocky first four months for the team as they’ve struggled with the balance of their cars and have yet to find a rhythm.

“I’m frustrated a lot. I hate running bad. I hate not having the results,” Kahne said of his mindset this season.

“Charlotte was two weeks where I went into that race thinking that I could win or run in the top five because that’s just a track that we do that at and we had no chance. So the guys really prepared well this week, and we looked at a lot of things and brought a great car to Pocono.”

Of the four Hendrick teams, Kahne has been the odd man out the last few seasons when it comes to consistency and contending for wins. Last year, Kahne went winless and wound up 18th in points, the only Hendrick car having failed to qualify for the Chase. It hasn’t been since 2012 that he’s been among the top 10 in the final standings.

He may not have been the main story on Monday, but the finish was a big step for Kahne and company. Just his fifth top-10 finish of the season, the relief was evident on his face afterward. Michigan International Speedway is next, another high-speed intermediate facility where he’s had previous success.

Although Kahne sits 18th in points and one week will not cure all, confidence goes a long way and for the first time in a while, Kahne appeared to have some on Monday.

“This is good for momentum, just to know that we hit on a couple things with the car. It’s a little different deal than what we’ve been doing, so I look forward running something very similar at Michigan,” he said. “Then we’ll go to Sonoma and some really good tracks, too. That’s probably my favorite racetrack.

“Hopefully, we can run really well and start clicking off top 10s each week and maybe get in Victory Lane. That’s where we want to be.”

EMAIL KELLY AT kelly.crandall@popularspeed.com

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