Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Forget the aesthetics of this 600, for Kasey Kahne and Rick Hendrick the win is pure relief

Forget the aesthetics of this 600, for Kasey Kahne and Rick Hendrick the win is pure relief

It starts in late afternoon...and ends under the lights (Photo:

   By Mike Mulhern

   It wasn't the most thrilling race of the season, and no real moments of great high drama, or really even low drama…and that was in such contrast to a rock-and-roll Indianapolis 500 earlier Sunday.
   But Kasey Kahne could really care less about the aesthetics of this Coke 600. For him it marked the end of a long travail this spring, of one bad Sunday after another, in a seemingly endless string.
   Winning the 600 – for the third time in his career, but a first with new team owner Rick Hendrick – was pure relief.
   "It felt really good to put the entire race together and have speed all night long," the low-keyed, rarely rattled Kahne said after kicking in afterburners late in the race once Greg Biffle faltered.
We've had speed.  Even the last five, six races we've been in the top 10, but not near as fast as Jimmie Johnson or a couple of those guys that have been winning the races.
            I just knew for myself I needed to step up.  Our team is solid.  Our car is solid.  Mr. Hendrick gives us everything we need to win races and run up front.  Tonight we were able to put it all together.
            But next week will be a new show.  Have to figure it out again next week in practice.  It's just tough.  The competition is stout.  It's hard to just move through the field and pass cars because everybody is so fast."
    Fortunately for Kahne, though he's with a new operation, he got to bring along Kenny Francis, his long-time crew chief.

   For Hendrick the night was relief too.
   But then there's really been no worries about Kahne eventually winning, because he's a winning driver, fast, and very good on very fast tracks.
   "I was excited about the year, the way Kenny fit in," the four-team owner said.  "You've seen Kasey;  I've seen Kasey drive – and knew if we give him the equipment…
     "He ran so good everywhere he's been.  He got in the car and he did the same thing here.  
    "But he and Jeff (Gordon) both have had just rotten luck.  I don't think I've blown a motor at Martinsville in 20 years; he (Kahne) was sitting on the pole, running second, and we lost the motor.  
    "At Vegas last lap, he was running third or fourth, and Matt (Kenseth) crowds him into the fence.
    "At Daytona he ran all day, and then got swept up in a wreck running top 10.  
    "But I've been doing this long enough to know that if you have speed, if you can run up front, you're going to win races.
     "It felt like all along when the luck would turn, these guys would win races."
    Which of course leads to the inevitable question about teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    "Dale is doing a great job, running in the top-10 every week," Hendrick says. "He's in position to take advantage of an adjustment here or there, a break here or there, he's going to win a race.  
     "He's up in the top of the points. There's been a huge improvement; he and Stevie (Letarte, his crew chief) are just getting better.  I think the win will come.
     "But it's hard.  You've got a lot of great guys out there that haven't won races this year that are champions.  
      "Dale is just under more of a microscope.  
       "But I'd say look at the way he's finishing, the way he's running, and compare it to what we've been doing.  You have to get to the place we are now before you win races.  think he's right there."
   Meanwhile Danica Patrick, who drew some praise for finishing 31st at Darlington six laps down in her last Cup start two weeks ago, wasn't getting as many plaudits for her run in her first 600 – 30th, five laps down.
   "We had a lot of green-flag running, and for me, especially as a new driver in the Cup series, that hurts me, those long runs hurt me," she said. "I'm just not great at making the best out of a car that's not perfect, and those long runs really show that.
    "But that's what you get in Cup -- a lot of green flag running, and I've got to learn how to deal with that.
    "We brought the car home, and one of the goals was to finish. I would have liked to have been a little faster, but I think there were some times when it was decent."
   She appeared to weather the grueling event rather well.
   And she was proud to avoid the wall.
    "One time I got hit in turn 3 and 4 and got pretty close to the wall, but missed it.
    "Another time I was just working with the high line, because I took it as time that – I'm not running great, so like let's just take this time to explore and work on the high line. And it seemed probably the wrong time for the car, because it was pretty loose on that run.
    "But it was still good experience for me, and that's what this is all about. When Tony Stewart picked the schedule, it was to pick the most difficult races of the year, and this one definitely has a lot of attrition and the track changes a lot, and you've got to keep up with that."


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com