BRISTOL RECAP: Most recently, Kasey Kahne drove the No. 5 Chevrolet SS to Victory Lane at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway after starting from the outside pole position and leading 109 laps. With his first victory of the 2013 season, Kahne climbs seven spots in the driver standings and now ranks seventh. He trails leader Brad Keselowski by 42 points.
WIN IN FOUR: The last time Kahne won in the fourth race to start the season was 2006, when he went on to post his best career Cup season to date. The fourth race of that season was at Atlanta Motor Speedway, and Kahne won after starting from the pole position and leading 85 laps. He finished the 2006 year — his first full season with current crew chief Kenny Francis — with six wins and six pole positions.
SEASON-TO-DATE: Kahne ranks first among Cup drivers in the first four races this season with 223 laps led — that’s 17.4 percent of the 1,283 total laps this season. His 3.5 average starting spot is also tops among Cup competition during that timeframe. In the first four races of the year, Kahne has started from the outside pole twice and the other two events inside the top six.
KAHNE AT FONTANA: In 16 Cup starts at Fontana, Kahne has recorded one win, four top-five finishes and nine top-10s. He lined up from the pole position in 2004 for his first Cup start at the two-mile track and has gone on to earn nine more top-10 starting spots. Kahne enters Sunday’s race with an average start of 10.2 and an average finish of 14.9 at the two-mile track.FONTANA
LOOP DATA: According to NASCAR loop data during the last 14 Sprint Cup Series races at Fontana, Kahne ranks seventh in laps led (152), ninth in fastest laps run (107), ninth in green-flag passes (1,072) and 10th in driver rating (92.6).
SPEEDWAY STATS: Kahne has collected three of his 15 career Cup wins and six of his 26 pole positions on tracks two miles or larger in length. In 98 starts on tracks two miles or larger in length, Kahne has posted 22 top-five finishes and 38 top-10s.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-763 for Sunday’s event at Fontana. Kahne last raced this car at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway test session in January.
HENDRICK AT FONTANA: Hendrick Motorsports has won four of the last nine events at Fontana. The organization has nine wins, 30 top-five finishes and 42 top-10s in 23 Cup events (90 starts) at the two-mile oval.
ALL-TIME: Jimmie Johnson leads drivers all-time at the two-mile California track in wins (five), top-five finishes (12), top-10s (14), laps led (851), average start (9.1) and average finish (5.4). Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon ranks second with 622 laps led there and is tied for second with two pole positions among all-time drivers at the two-mile West Coast track.
FONTANA FOR FIRSTS: Gordon won the inaugural Cup race at California in June 1997 after starting third and leading 113 laps. Johnson won the first race of his Cup career at the two-mile oval in April 2002 after starting fourth and leading 62 circuits. Alan Gustafson, currently crew chief of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet SS, scored his first career Cup pole position as crew chief of the No. 5 team in February 2005 and his first career Cup win with the No. 5 team in the second California event later that year.
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS (ON IMPROVING TO SEVENTH IN THE DRIVER STANDINGS.): “We’ve already fought back a little bit. We were strong at Daytona (Fla.), strong at Phoenix, and we had a shot in Vegas. We pulled it off this past weekend in Bristol. We got a little behind, but these points will get us up there again, and hopefully we can stay up there all season long. We just keep learning and getting better together because we have a great team here. We’ve gained a lot of spots here in the last two weeks, and I feel really good about where we’re at, where our team’s at. There was a lot that went on during the offseason to get a little bit better. I felt like each one of us needed to get a touch better. So far it’s all paying off. The guys are doing an awesome job.”
KAHNE (ON WHAT HE’S LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS WEEKEND IN FONTANA.): “I look forward to just the really wide racetrack. The speeds will be up, you can move around usually from the white line all the way to the wall and just about run right against the wall on a big, two mile racetrack. It’s pretty technical because of the seams there where the track is paved, and then it stops. Then it starts another paving section, and the seams are pretty thick. They’re pretty wide so getting on top of those seams can be rough; just figuring out how to get the car to go around all that stuff and make good laps. I’m really excited because I think we’ll be able to drive harder than we’ve ever been able to drive at Fontana (Calif.) in a Sprint Cup car, and I’m really looking forward to that. I think it’s going to be pretty exciting.”
KENNY FRANCIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 FARMERS INSURANCE CHEVROLET SS (ON HOW THE NO. 5 TEAM’S PERFORMING SO FAR THIS SEASON.): “We’ve had a pretty good year so far, and we’ve had a lot of speed. Unfortunately, we got in a wreck at Daytona and that kind of set us back at the beginning of the year. But we went to Phoenix and we were pretty fast, and then we dominated in the Las Vegas race but didn’t quite get the win. So, to win at Bristol, one of the historic tracks of the circuit, that’s a pretty cool deal. To have two wins so far for Mr. (Rick) Hendrick (team owner) this year, we’re pretty happy about it.”
FRANCIS (ON ADAPTING TO THE GEN-6 CAR.): “We’ve been to a pretty big variety of tracks so far this year. The first four tracks are completely different so there’s been a big learning curve on how this new car reacts to different types of tracks. California is a totally different track again so we can maybe base a little of it on Vegas because it’s high speed like Vegas, but other than that it’s pretty different. We’re still learning our way around this new car and some of the new rules and new setup concepts that we have to use because of the rules. We still have a lot of learning to do. I’m sure the whole sport, every team, is on a steep learning curve right now, and we’re all trying to get to the top of that curve first.”