Brickyard Win Huge for Kasey Kahne

July 24, 2017 | Professional Writing

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Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis will be remembered for many different reasons.

The race saw early favorites Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. taken out in a shower of sparks and flames in Turn 1 crash on a Lap 111 restart. It featured 14 cautions and three red flags, including a nearly two-hour stoppage for rain. And it needed two overtime restarts before the checkered flag fell as darkness was setting in.

But for race winner Kasey Kahne, it’ll be remembered as the day he got his career back on track as he ended a 102-race winless streak in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Kahne’s 2017 season has been marred with promising starts and disappointing finishes. It’s also been filled with rumors and talk throughout the garage area that the 2004 Rookie of the Year may be out of a ride with Hendrick Motorsports after the season is over even with one year left on his contract.

And while Sunday’s win may not have silenced all of his critics and guaranteed him a ride with NASCAR’s most successful team after this season, it certainly goes a long way to boost his confidence and his solidify the fact that he can still win races.

“Unbelievable to win at Indianapolis. Unbelievable to win a Cup race. It’s been a while,” Kahne said. “It feels really good for myself and my confidence. I know it’s great for our team. We need it as a team.

“I think a win like today can give myself confidence and momentum, our whole team a boost, which is something we need. The guys that are winning and running up front, their momentum, their confidence is tough to keep up with when it’s been a couple years.

Kahne’s last win before Sunday came at Atlanta in August 2014. With all his struggles over the past three seasons even he questioned when or if he would return to Victory Lane.

“It’s been a while since I’ve won, so, I mean you have to wonder. My team works really hard, but we haven’t had the performance,” Kahne said. “We haven’t run up front. We don’t lead a lot of laps. Those things have to cross your mind. If they don’t, something would be wrong, I think.”

And now with the win Sunday he’s eligible for NASCAR’s playoffs when the post-season begins at Chicagoland Speedway in September.

“We’re a little ways off from the playoffs. We need to keep getting better,” Kahne said. “I think we really need to figure out how to qualify better, get that track position. We have a lot to work on for sure but we are heading in the right direction. We won a big race today. I feel good about it.

Kahne says more than being in the playoffs and more than possibly silencing those saying he may not have a guaranteed ride for next season, it makes him enjoy the sport he loves more.

“I love driving the cars. I love racing. I go and race my sprint car when I have time because I enjoy that stuff,” Kahne said. After a win like this, hopefully that gets us just pointed in the right direction a little bit better, working for each other a little bit more, having faith in each other. I think all those things help.”

Winning at a track like Indianapolis is special for any driver. But Indianapolis is special for Kahne even more as he lived in the area prior to the start of his NASCAR career while still driving sprint cars.

“I moved here in 1999, lived here for three summers, raced sprint cars, midgets all around the area. This was the track that I always wanted to win at, and dreamed of racing at,” Kahne said. “Me and my dad, when we first moved here, we got a shop on Gasoline Alley. We came over, went to the museum, then got on a bus. They bused us around the track. Got to feel the track in the bus. That was a really cool day.”

Now, 18 years later, Kahne is a winner at Indianapolis.

“I’ve been to all the races here. I’ve been to Brickyards, 500s, Formula One races. This is a track I’ve always wanted to win at,” Kahne said. “It’s pretty wild. This is a neat place. Spent a lot of time here thinking and dreaming about winning at this track. Literally just racing at it is pretty awesome.”

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