NASCAR Chase Preview: Kasey Kahne

Christopher Leone@ChristopherlionSenior Analyst ISeptember 10, 2012

WATKINS GLEN, NY - AUGUST 10:  Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet, walks in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Finger Lakes 355 at the Glen at Watkins Glen International on August 10, 2012 in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Every day here at Bleacher Report we'll be counting down the 12 drivers in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup by posting two driver previews, breaking down how they got in and what they're going to do with their berth. We've already got 12th place Jeff Gordon posted, meaning next in line is fellow wild-card driver Kasey Kahne.

KASEY KAHNE, #5 Farmers Insurance/Quaker State/ Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports

CHASE POSITION: 11th, 2000 points (2 wins, wild card)

MAKING THE CHASE: Kahne didn't get into the Chase until Richmond, scoring the first wild card position by finishing 12th in the last regular season race. He had basically punched his ticket the week before at Atlanta, however, when it became clear that he would be one of only two possible wild card drivers to have at least two wins (he turned out to be the only one).

LAST 10 RACES: With four finishes of third or better, including his second win of the season at Loudon, Kahne posted an average finish of 8.4 in the Race to the Chase.

LAST YEAR'S CHASE: Kahne scored the final win of Team Red Bull's five-year NASCAR history in the penultimate race of last year's Chase at Phoenix. He climbed from 20th in points at the start of the Chase to 14th at the end by posting a fantastic 7.9 average finish with seven top-10s and nine finishes of 15th or better.

AT CHASE TRACKS: With his fourth-career Charlotte win in this year's Coca-Cola 600, it's pretty clear that Kahne has no problem with the 1.5-mile tri-oval. Where he does have problems, however, are half of the Chase schedule: he's got career finishes of 20.0 or worse at Phoenix, Talladega, Chicago, Martinsville, and Dover.

OUTLOOK: After Bristol in March, we were too busy asking ourselves if Kahne could stay in the top 35 of owners' points to analyze his Chase chances. But since scoring his first top-10 of the season at Texas, he's posted 13 top-10s in 20 races, more than good enough to rebound. The only question is if Kahne used up all of his best runs of the season climbing out of the depths of the standings, or if he and longtime crew chief Kenny Francis have any more tricks up their sleeve.

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