MICHIGAN RECAP: Most recently, Kasey Kahne finished seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 18. He now ranks 11th in the driver standings and, with two victories this season, is in good position to earn at least a wild card bid in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS still could race his way into NASCAR’s postseason. The drivers that rank inside the top 10 automatically qualify, and Kahne trails 10th-place Greg Biffle by four points with three races remaining until the Chase field is set.
SEASON-TO-DATE: In the first 23 Sprint Cup races this season, Kahne ranks first with 612 of the fastest laps run and fastest speed in traffic (5.652 average ranking). His green flag speed is second-best (5.706 average ranking), and also is second in fastest drivers late in a run (7.059). In addition, Kahne ranks third in fastest drivers early in a run (6.353). His 100.9 driver rating is fourth-best as are his 466 laps led. His average start in 23 events this season is 10.6, and his average finish is 16.0.
REIGNING BRISTOL WINNER: Kahne, 33, drove the No. 5 Chevrolet SS to Victory Lane at Bristol in March after starting from the outside pole position and leading 109 laps. This marked his first of two victories of the 2013 season as Kahne won earlier this month at Pocono Raceway. If Kahne wins this weekend at Bristol, it will be the first time a driver has swept the track’s events since 2009, and it also will virtually lock him into the Chase as a wild card contender.
KAHNE AT BRISTOL: In 19 Sprint Cup starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kahne has one win, four top-five finishes and eight top-10s. He also has earned one pole position and has led a total of 456 laps.
BRISTOL LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR loop data during the last 17 Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol, Kahne ranks second in the closers category by improving 20 positions in the last 10 percent of laps in each race. He also ranks sixth in fastest laps run (365), sixth in laps led (456) and eighth in green-flag passes (750).
SHORT TRACK STATS: Kahne has collected two of his 16 career Cup wins and three of his 26 pole positions on short tracks. In addition to Kahne’s most recent win at Bristol in March, he also went to Victory Lane at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in 2005. Kahne started from the pole and dominated the race, leading 242 of 400 laps. He has 11 top-five finishes and 19 top-10s in 57 starts on tracks less than one mile in length.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-769 for Saturday night’s event at Bristol. Kahne has raced this car five times this season, notably reaching Victory Lane at Bristol on March 17. During those five starts, he has averaged a 5.4 starting spot on the strength of outside pole positions at Phoenix and Bristol and a fourth-place start at Richmond. Kahne also lined up eighth in this car on July 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
BRISTOL DOUBLE DUTY: In addition to his duties behind the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS this weekend at Bristol, Kahne will pilot JR Motorsports’ No. 5 Chevrolet in the 133.24-mile NASCAR event on Friday evening.
HENDRICK AT BRISTOL: In 59 Cup events (187 starts) at Bristol, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 47 top-five finishes, 84 top-10s and 11 pole positions. Jeff Gordon is tied for first among active drivers with five wins at the track, while Kahne most recently went to Victory Lane there for the organization earlier this year in March.
SHORT TRACK POWER: Among active drivers at tracks less than one mile in length, Hendrick Motorsports ranks atop the competition in wins and laps led; Gordon is first in both categories with 15 victories and 7,957 laps led. Jimmie Johnson ranks second in both categories with 12 wins and 3,533 laps led.
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS (ON THE BRISTOL NIGHT RACE.): “The Bristol night race is always one of the better races of the year. It’s one of the races I look forward to just because of the time of the season it is. I like racing there at night. It’s hot. It seems like tempers kind of get out of control there at times on the night race probably because it’s hot and you’re racing under the lights. We won the first one, and we ran really well there the last few times we’ve been at Bristol so I’m looking forward to trying to get another win and sweeping the season there.”
KAHNE (ON THE TEAM’S CHANCES OF MAKING THE CHASE.): “I don’t like not being in the top 10, but I feel a lot more secure. Our chances are a lot better because of the Pocono win. It was a big win. It was really good and helped our team out. These next couple tracks are good tracks for us so we want to race our way back in. We want to get those bonus points to start the Chase. I feel really good about making the Chase, and I also feel good about getting into the top 10 and racing our way in. We’ve been fast and good at all the tracks that we have left on the schedule this season so I’m excited about it. I think we’re in a good spot.”