Kasey Kahne desperately needs a win.
After qualifying for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup the last two seasons, the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driver finds himself on the outside looking in. Currently 18th on the Chase Grid Outlook with just two races left, Kahne sits 33 points behind Greg Biffle for the final spot.
The gap is such, a win may be Kahne’s only means to a Chase berth.
A victory at Atlanta by Kahne is no pipe dream. But it’s not a slam dunk either. Kahne’s career performance at the track defines the phrase “all or nothing.” The Hendrick Motorsports driver owns two checkered flags and two poles at Atlanta, but also has seven finishes of 32nd or worse, including three DNFs. Kahne’s performances on both ends of the spectrum at Atlanta combine for an average finish of 19.6.
A mere nine points out of the final Chase spot entering the race at Bristol, Kahne’s chances seemed good as he led for 40 laps. Then, a mechanical issue arose forcing him to pit and eventually head to the garage to address the problem. Kahne returned to the track to finish 35th, a performance that could eventually be looked at as the dagger to his Chase hopes.
Kahne understands his Chase outlook entering Sunday’s Oral B USA 500 (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN), but maintains his team is making the right moves.
“We’re in a tough spot still because we need maximum points every week and we also need a win to secure our spot in the Chase, but we’ve had pretty fast cars and the team has been doing a much better job,” Kahne said. “I think all of us communicating and working together, it’s been better for the last month, month-and-a-half than what it was earlier in the season. We just have to do the same thing, but we need to max our points each weekend and go for wins. Hopefully between one of those we can work our way in.”