Kahne’s 17th-Place Finish Not Indicative of Strong Talladega Run
Box Score Info:
RACE: NASCAR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; GEICO 500
TRACK: Talladega Superspeedway
DRIVER: Kasey Kahne
CAR: No. 95 Procore Safety Qualified Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
POINTS POSITION: 129 total points for the season; currently 29th in the driver point standings
· NASCAR’s top series traveled to the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway for the second restrictor plate race of the year this weekend. Kasey Kahne and his No. 95 team brought a special paint scheme to Talladega aboard their Procore Safety Qualified Camaro ZL1, and the team’s game plan was to try to get up towards the front of the pack and to stay out of harm’s way as best they could. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams had two practice sessions on Friday that allowed teams to shakedown their cars before Saturday’s single-car run qualifying session.
· Sunday’s GEICO 500 took the green at 1:26 p.m. CST to begin the 188-lap event as Kahne started the race from 26th with his Procore Safety Qualified Camaro ZL1 to begin Stage 1. On the opening lap of the race, Kahne improved to 20th but by lap seven, he radioed in to crew chief Travis Mack that the No. 95 had “too much wheel in the center” and that the rear of the car needed to get down into the track better. The team had a strategy in play with fellow Team Chevy teammates, and while others opted to pit early in the stage around lap 13, Mack and his team stuck to the game plan.
· Kahne got as high as 17th before being shuffled back into the pack when it came time for him to hit pit road for service on lap 44. Four tires, fuel, and wedge adjustments were made to help get the rear of the Procore Safety Qualified Camaro ZL1 down into the track better than it had been at the start of the race. Stage 1 ended following lap 55 with Kahne scored in 29th and one lap down to the leaders as he told his team that his race car “still has a ton of wheel” in it.
· Under the stage break caution, Mack called for another four-tire stop with adjustments and the race returned to green to begin lap 62. Team’s continued to play with pit strategies, and just five laps into Stage 2, the field quickly hit pit road for service. Kahne pitted for fuel-only on his lap 68 stop as he radioed in to the team that the No. 95 machine had been driving better since the team had put on new tires.
· Shortly after the field had cycled through pit road, a multi-car wreck happened on the backstretch on lap 72 and collected a total of six cars in the process. The Procore Camaro ZL1 wasn’t involved in the crash, but Mack wanted to bring his driver down pit road for four fresh tires to ensure that Kahne hadn’t happened to run over any debris while the track was being cleaned. Lap 76 found the team making a four-tire stop and Kahne lined up in 29th for the restart. Kahne drove into 28th and was in the “lucky dog” position when Stage 2 came to an end following lap 110. The team planned for another four-tire stop under the caution once Kahne got back on the lead lap.
· At a place like Talladega, cars easily get shuffled back and forth throughout the pack depending on which lane of traffic has the momentum. Kahne restarted in 25th to begin the final stage of the race, and just ten laps after the restart, he had broken into the top-five on lap 127. A caution for debris on lap 130 let Mack opt to pit for right-side tires and fuel while teams all seemed to choose varying strategies under the yellow. The quick stop found the Procore Safety Qualified Camaro ZL1 line up in third for the restart to begin lap 134.
· Without any drafting help from fellow manufacturer teammates, Kahne was able to hold his own in the pack as the field jockeyed for position three and four-wide at several points following the restart. Green-flag stops cycled around lap 145, and on lap 146, Kahne came down pit road for a splash of fuel after being scored as the race leader. A caution at lap 155 allowed Mack and Kahne to further discuss their race strategy as well as the handling of the No. 95, and they opted to take new tires under the caution.
· Kahne lined up in 17th for the restart to begin lap 160 with just 28 laps remaining in the race. The Procore Camaro ZL1 was the first car that was on new tires and the call paid off as Kahne was able to jump up into sixth early on. The afternoon’s “Big One” occurred on lap 166 and collected a total of 13 cars in it’s wake. Kahne was able to get through all the cars spinning and colliding around him to keep his No. 95 unscathed. The only issue was that the front grille of the car had collected trash, so Kahne came down it road for four new Goodyear tires, a splash of Sunoco fuel, and to clean off the grille thoroughly.
· The No. 95 Procore Safety Qualified Camaro ZL1 lined up in 13th for the restart to begin lap 172 on the outside lane. The momentum seemed to be with the inside lane, and while Kahne fought to get down into that bottom line, he wasn’t able to as competitors continued to block for positions. Kahne got shuffled back into 17th in the closing laps and ended up finishing there when the checkered flag waved following lap 188.
· Joey Logano drove off with the win Sunday afternoon at Talladega Superspeedway while Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. rounded out the top-five finishers.
2018 Season Summary: