With the 2009 NASCAR season on the horizon, kicking off with the Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night, I think it is time for a little preview article about my favorite driver, Kasey Kahne.
2008 was a tough year for Kahne. He had two poles and two victories, as well as winning the non-points All Star race and finished 14th in points. However, what he really lacked was consistency.
He started off at with top-tens at Daytona, California and Las Vegas. Then he started to get pretty inconsistent with a 28th-place finish at Atlanta, then seventh at Bristol. He had eight races when he finished 30th or worse.
The team just never hit their groove right to be a consistent threat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. After a great weekend in Charlotte where Kahne won the All-Star race and the Coca-Cola 600, he finished 31st at Dover.
Then a win at Pocono and a second at Michigan were followed by a 33rd and 30th at Sonoma and New Hampshire, respectively.
Over the off-season, the big news was Richard Petty merging with Evernham Motorsports, creating the new Richard Petty Motorsports. Joining Kahne in the 9 and Elliot Sadler in the 19 are Reed Sorenson in the 43 and AJ Allmendinger in the 44.
I think that this merger can only provide good support and experience for Kahne. The Budweiser Dodge team wants to have a recurrence of Kahne’s six-win, six-pole season of 2006, when he finished eighth in the points and made the cut for the Chase.
With Richard Petty on board to add to the great foundation that Kahne has developed, Kahne can only go up from here.
In the 2009 season, as long as they can get some consistency going early in the year and get off to a good start, I see good things happening for this team this year.
I’m going to predict at least four wins, and you’ll see the No. 9 Budweiser Dodge competing for the championship as he makes the Chase.
I know from a fan and journalist’s standpoint, I am ridiculously excited for the Bud Shootout, the Gatorade Duels, and of course the start of the season on Feb. 15 with the Daytona 500.