John Raoux/Associated Press
Every season as we get closer to the final Chase-qualifying race at Richmond, the game is played: Which big-name driver will fail to make the Chase?
It was easy to play the game when the Chase field was only 10 drivers—and even easy when it was expanded to 12 drivers several years ago.
But still, there was always one or more big-name drivers who failed to make the Chase.
Even with this year's Chase field expanded to 16 drivers, don't think it's a given that all the big-name drivers will make the playoffs, because it's just not going to happen.
This year, Kasey Kahne will be the odd man out, arguably the biggest name who won't make the Chase. It's nothing but a hunch, of course, but with the way Kahne was so inconsistent at times in 2013, I think you'll see a lot of carryover effect in 2014.
Sure, Kahne won two races last season and made the Chase. Expectations were high given that he had finished a career-best fourth place in 2012's final standings.
But when Kahne hit last year's Chase, instead of going up, he went down—and didn't stop sinking until he finished next-to-last in the expanded 13-driver field. Only Carl Edwards finished lower, in 13th.
To borrow from Forrest Gump, Kahne is like a box of chocolates: You never know what you're going to get from him on race day. One day he can be absolutely brilliant and look like the champion so many people have predicted him to be one day, while other days he looks like he's completely lost.
Don't get me wrong, Kahne is a driver I hold in very high regard. But when you're part of a super-team like that at HMS with Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr., you can't expect everyone to be a championship contender every year.
Simply put, 2014 is not going to be Kasey Kahne's year.
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