What a difference a month has made for surging Kahne
MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Over the last four race weekends,
Just four weeks ago, when the big-name drivers arrived at Lowe's Motor Speedway for the All-Star Race, Kahne was not eligible to make the starting field based on last year's performance. The fans voted him into the final spot and he rewarded them by driving to victory and picking up the easiest $1 million of his career.
The following week, Kahne proved his All-Star win was no fluke as he survived NASCAR's endurance contest known as the Coca-Cola 600.
And Sunday at Pocono, Kahne was the class of the field and drove to his second Sprint Cup win in the last three weeks.
So as the series heads to Michigan International Speedway, Kahne has definitely become the "Dodge Charger."
That's in stark contrast to last year when Kahne was "Kasey Can't."
"As a driver, I didn't feel like my confidence was down," Kahne said of last year. "I went to the track every week and I felt like I was ready to win and ready to -- I went in with a good attitude. But until I actually won this year, the All-Star Race, I realized that I was leaving a little bit out there and wasn't communicating probably like I should have been with Kenny and maybe I wasn't communicating quite as well as I have in the past.
"So since then, I've done a better job, and it's just kind of like everything is clicking at the same time. I don't think it started at the All-Star Race. Like Kenny said, we've had good cars all year. But the Charlotte test, I feel like we hit on some things and we had a great car at Darlington, until I ran it into the wall. To me that was where it all started, the Charlotte test and Darlington, you know, we were hitting on some things at that point."
In 2006 Kahne was one of NASCAR's biggest winners and entered the '07 season as a legitimate title contender. But last season was a disaster and Kahne wasn't considered to be a title threat in '08.
That has changed with his recent success as he makes a charge at making the 12-driver cut for The Chase.
"The Chase is the main goal of the season," Kahne said. "We need to be in the Chase and we need to be in there for Gillette Evernham Motorsports and everybody that's part of it. It doesn't matter if we're 20th or 30th, we have to finish the race and get all the points we can, and at the end of the day, hopefully we make that Chase. That's our goal. We're going to do everything we can to be in the Chase.
"The excitement, the momentum, the confidence and everything; you go to Gillette Evernham right now and everybody is walking around there with a smile on their face, and that's not how it was a month and a half ago. But that's probably how it was in '06. It's just good. Everybody is excited. I'm just glad I can be part of it."
"Very good results for everybody at Target/Chip Ganassi Racing," Wheldon said. "Obviously,
Wheldon, who won both the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series title in '05, was participating in practice Friday afternoon when the car slammed into the outside wall in the fourth turn. Wheldon's car then skidded down the frontstretch and into the grass that separates the race track from pit road.
When it hit the grass, the wheels of the car dug in sending it into a flip before the car landed upside-down.
"That's life; sometimes you end up upside-down," Wheldon said. "Landing in the grass is better than concrete.
"The concrete definitely hurt this time, though."
Wheldon was awake and alert when safety workers arrived to turn the car over. He complained of a sore right ankle and was treated in the infield care center.
"The Polaroid car I had before this car was really strong. When I was sliding I thought, [Bleep] that really hurt my ankle."
Wheldon had to qualify a Target-decaled car but was supposed to be sponsored by Polaroid this weekend. The car he crashed was a black Polaroid car, but he admitted he was able to "shake it like a Polaroid picture."
"That would have been a good Polaroid picture," Wheldon quipped.