News & Media

Take two: Kahne's logical mind finishes fourth

October 03, 2011, Mark Aumann,

DOVER, Del. -- Debate over tires on final stop came down to track position for Red Bull driver

Score one for logic over emotion.

Kasey Kahne knew his car would handle better with four fresh tires. And crew chief Kenny Francis gave Kahne that option when the No. 4 Toyota pitted for the final time with 41 laps remaining in Sunday's AAA 400.

"It's been nice to drive here and to keep feeling like we've got a shot each weekend. I think we're running right now as good as we have all season."


But experience told Kahne two tires was the correct call. And it played out perfectly as Kahne finished fourth -- his first top-five finish since July and career best at Dover International Speedway in 16 starts.

"I wanted two, just for the track position," Kahne said. "I thought that's what we needed. I wasn't quite as fast because the car didn't work as well on two [tires]. [Francis] wanted four and I wish I could have had four, but I still think it was the right decision."

Kahne felt he had a car capable of winning, particularly on the final restart with 34 laps remaining. Kahne was lined up behind leader Jimmie Johnson, who spun his tires when the green dropped.

That gave Kahne what he thought might be an opening. But it was an illusion.

"I actually thought I got a good start," Kahne said. "I thought I could get to second there and Jimmie chopped me getting into [Turn] 1 pretty bad, and I lifted, luckily for him. I lifted and let him go and ended up getting passed."

Kahne eventually worked his way back to third, only to be caught by a charging Carl Edwards 10 laps later. Still, he was delighted with the effort.

"We just got a little bit tight there at the end but before those final two runs, I thought we had maybe the fastest car," Kahne said. "It was getting exciting. We were right there.

"We just need to keep working on it. The guys are doing great. Kenny Francis keeps giving me awesome cars each week and our pit stops have been pretty decent."

Kahne's car worked best Sunday on long green-flag runs, something that was more prevalent in the early stages of the race than at the end.

"We fell back a little bit with some of the restarts and just couldn't get going right away," Kahne said. "It was like that all day. But after about five laps, we'd get going pretty good. At times, our car was the fastest car on the track.

"We thought we had a chance to win there, so I was a little disappointed with fourth. But fourth's better than what we've been doing, so that's good."

After signing a deal to take over Rick Hendrick's No. 5 Chevrolet for 2012, the folks at Red Bull knew Kahne was nothing more than a one-year loaner this season.

Still, some of his better runs with the team have come in the past two months. During that stretch, Kahne has five finishes of 15th or better, despite engine troubles at Atlanta and a crash that ended his night at Richmond. It's not exactly what you'd expect from a lame-duck driver.

"It takes the whole team and these guys have kept fighting," Kahne said. "It's been nice to drive here and to keep feeling like we've got a shot each weekend. I think we're running right now as good as we have all season."