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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup

Kahne Off to Strong Start

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It’s now or never for Kasey Kahne and his NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series career, as the once-young hot shoe is now a 36-year-old with his career hanging in the balance.

Though Kahne is under contract through the 2018 season with Hendrick Motorsports, 2017 is pivotal for the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS. 

He hasn’t enjoyed the success he envisioned since joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2012. He has scored five wins, but none since 2014 at Atlanta. Kahne isn’t oblivious to his team’s past struggles and knows it’s time to step up.

In August of 2016, Kahne told FOXSports.com, “If I haven’t performed by 2018, I need to leave. It’s pretty simple. That has nothing to do with William Byron or anyone else. If I haven’t performed by then, it’s time to go do something different.”      

It might not be time for Kahne to hang it up quite yet, though.

Through the season’s first three races, Kahne has been able to make the most of the opportunities and  have the finishes to show for it. He finished seventh in the season-opening Daytona 500, followed by a fourth at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and a 12th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.       

Kahne had to scrap and claw to finish 12th this past weekend, fighting his car’s setup all day, adding, “We’ve just got to keep doing better, keep figuring out practice and starting these races a little better.”              

Kahne is right about the team’s need to get more speed out of the car in qualifying, as his average starting position is 20.7. In comparing him to the season’s first three winners, they all qualified inside the top-10 when they were able to get the checkered flag.

The finishes are there for the No. 5 team, and as a result, the team is ninth in the Cup standings, with the confidence continuing to grow.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continues the west coast swing this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway, where in 25 starts, Kahne has one win, which came in 2011 for Red Bull Racing, and eight top-10s.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement

Shane Carlson

Shane Carlson is a graduate of Winona State University in southeastern Minnesota, where he earned a degree in Mass Communications-Journalism. He joins POPULAR SPEED looking to gain experience in the world of NASCAR, where he hopes to work one day. He is also a monthly contributor to The Midwest Racing Connection. Carlson was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he still resides.