We all anticipated what we are seeing out of Kasey Kahne. We all knew once he and long-time crew chief Kenny Francis joined Hendrick Motorsports, that the combination of those two and Hendrick’s resources was going to be tough to beat. I said it last year and I still believe it today, Kasey was trying so hard at the early part of the season that it got him in trouble.
I think Kasey wanted to prove that he was worthy of being chosen by Mr. Hendrick to be one of his four drivers. It just seemed early on like Kasey was trying too hard and forcing some issues at times that just didn’t need to be forced. Once he and Kenny settled in, you saw the performance take off in the second half of the season.
Just look at the beginning of the 2012 season compared to the end of the 2012 season for that No. 5 car. Kasey made the Chase and finished fourth for the season. He garnered two wins, 12 top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes in 36 races. That’s a pretty remarkable recovery.
Now all settled in and with a year in the Hendrick system under their belt, I think we are all seeing what Rick Hendrick was expecting to see when he hired Kasey and Kenny. This is a powerful combination that is comparable to Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus in some respects. It is also reminiscent, in my book, to the chemistry we saw in the Jeff Gordon/Ray Evernham days.
So this is yet another powerful dynamic for the powerhouse of Hendrick Motorsports. I really believe the No. 5 car will see Victory Lane multiple times this year. I also firmly believe Kasey will be a factor in the final 10 races this year that make up the Chase. If you were to ask me right now who will be locked into the Chase once we get to Richmond in September, Kasey Kahne is definitely one of my choices.