CUP: Kahne Eyes First Daytona With Hendrick

Could Kasey Kahne win the Daytona 500 in his first points race for Hendrick Motorsports?

The answer to that question seems to be a solid yes.

Although Kahne’s time at the Hendrick shop has been short, the team always has top-flight equipment at Daytona, and Kahne’s performances at the track – although he hasn’t won the 500 – are typically strong.

“They have some really good guys that are just fine-tuning everything, every possible bit that they can, and remembering the things that have worked in the past and the things that haven't, and new options and things like to try,” Kahne said. “It's pretty impressive to see what they do and how much time they put into those cars.

“All of us want to win that race so bad. To come down there with Hendrick Motorsports, a team that's won the race, I mean, it's just awesome. I look forward to that.

“I've never been excited about qualifying. The 5 car had two poles last year on restrictor-plate tracks, so I think I was – I'm usually somewhere probably in the 20s or 30s when it comes to qualifying on those tracks, so that's exciting to know that, man, we might have a shot to get on the front row or something that we've never been able to do before … because of how much effort they put into the Daytona 500.”

Although Kahne has been in Sprint Cup racing since 2004, it can be argued that this is his first real long-term shot with a steady, first-class operation.

“I have four years here that I know it's going to be stable and be competitive and have great people and a great team around me,” he said. “To be able to be a part of all that is something that I haven't had. It's definitely nice to have it, makes you feel pretty good about where you're at.

“It's taken time. I've had some really good years in Cup, and I've learned a lot from everything, and now I'm just in a really solid situation and need to take full advantage of it.

“So we'll just see how high we can rise, how well we can step up and see what we can do throughout the whole season. That's my biggest deal this year – to be as consistent as I've ever been each week and to win races. If we can do that, we're going to have a great year.”

Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for and has been covering motorsports for 29 years. He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.