Kasey Kahne: Silent Success

Heath HeidemannCorrespondent INovember 9, 2008

Expectations were high this year for Kasey Kahne. He had a new sponsor in Budweiser and in the first full year of the Gillett-Evernham partnership gave the team very high hopes that they were going to surpass last years "disappointing" 19th place finish in the standings.

Kasey had a great start to the season, cranking out four top tens in the first five races. However, he followed that stretch with four consecutive finished of 15th or worse.

He would win his only two races somewhat early in the season. His first came at Lowe's in May, with the second coming at Pocono two weeks later.

Going into the second Daytona race, he was 10th in points. He put up a 7th place finish under Daytona's lights to move him into eighth in the standings. However, only three top tens would follow, which left him outside of the Chase cutoff by 69 points. His only bright spot from there was a second at Lowe's in October.

The success of this season is actually found inside of those numbers. Kasey now sits locked at 14th in points. Despite not making the Chase, Kahne's '08 is definitely better than '07.

The difference is due in large part to the two wins he had, compared to none last year. He also increased his top fives by three, and his top tens by five.

The Gillett Evernham team faces much uncertainty this offseason; Ray Evernham is selling his interest in the company and the team is rumored to be merging with Bill Davis Racing. Kahne may be the one bright spot this team can take into 2009.