Kahne Persists at Pocono Despite Challenges to Finish 30th
NASCAR’s top series traveled to the scenic Poconos for their second race of the season at the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” track of Pocono Raceway. For Kasey Kahne and his No. 95 Procore team, they showed speed in their Camaro ZL1 on Saturday, but an overheating issue at the end of final practice forced the team to change motors before qualifying. Due to the motor change, Kahne was relegated to start from the rear of the field for Sunday’s race. The Procore team fought back against numerous challenges during the 164-lap event, but were left with a 30th-place finish after Kahne lost his brakes on lap 144 and had to pit under green with under 20 to go.
· Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 took the green flag at 2:50 p.m. EST as the field took off four-wide battling for track position heading into Turn 1. Pocono’s unique triangular-shaped track has three distinct corners with long straightaways that challenge drivers when it comes to finding the right handling balance in their race cars. Being trapped back in “dirty air” further back in the field can also greatly affect a car’s handling there, and Kahne told his crew chief Jon Leonard early on that the Procore Chevy was “tight and lacking front turn.” Kahne continued to improve his positioning though, and by lap 20 when teams were just starting to begin green-flag pit stops, the No. 95 had taken over 25th.
· Leonard called Kahne in for his first stop of the day on lap 32 as the team serviced the Procore Chevy with right-side tires, fuel, and adjustments. Stage 1 came to an end following lap 50, and Kahne ended the stage in 24th. Kahne was called in for another pit stop under the caution for four tires, fuel, and another chassis adjustment before lining up in 25th for the restart.
· Kahne was able to improve to 22nd before another round of green-flag stops started to cycle through the field. The Procore Chevy made it up to sixth before a caution came out on lap 83. Kahne told his team that the Procore Chevy had started the run off tight, so the team opted to pit for a four-tire stop with adjustments on lap 83. Kahne was able to drive his way up to 15th before Stage 2 came to an end following lap 100. Under the caution that followed, the Procore team opted for a two-tire stop, but Kahne was tagged with a speeding penalty exiting pit road. Since he was going to serve a pass-through penalty, the team chose to put on left-side tires and make a chassis adjustment in order to make the most of the extra trip down pit road.
· Kahne started Stage 3 in 29th and once again fought his way back up to 22nd before another caution came at lap 121. The Procore Chevy had tightened up for Kahne over the run, so the team called him in for service on lap 122. In a strategy call, the team took right-side tires once again in order to gain track position and the gamble placed Kahne in third for the restart. The green flag came out to start lap 126, but immediately after the race resumed, the caution came out for oil in Turn 1. Kahne restarted in fourth to begin lap 133 as the team hoped another caution might allow them to keep the track position before the cars who had taken four tires gained the advantage. Unfortunately, the caution didn’t come before Kahne’s two tires began to fade and he dipped back to 21st by lap 140.
· The situation got worse when Kahne called in over the team radio on lap 144 that he had lost his brakes as he came down pit road for assistance. The unscheduled green-flag stop found Kahne fall two laps to the leaders as the team worked to cool down his brakes to assist the Procore Chevy to finish the race.
· Kyle Busch claimed the win on Sunday at Pocono earning his sixth victory of the season, and his 49th career win in the series. Daniel Suarez, Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, and Erik Jones rounded out the top-five finishers, while Kahne and his No. 95 Procore Chevy Camaro ZL1 were scored in 30th.
Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; Gander Outdoors 400
TRACK: Pocono Raceway
DRIVER: Kasey Kahne
CAR: No. 95 Procore Camaro ZL1
POINTS POSITION: 27th