CONCORD, N.C. — Kasey Kahne hasn’t competed in a NASCAR Sprint Cup event for Hendrick Motorsports yet, but already the driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet understands the most important aspect of his new organization – teamwork.
And that goes beyond just working with his new teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson – all proven winners in the Cup Series. It means continuing a partnership he’s had for six years with crew chief Kenny Francis, while attempting to land Hendrick Motorsports’ oldest Cup entry in Victory Lane.
“The combination of Kasey and Kenny coming on board here at Hendrick is going to benefit all of us,” said Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet. “That’s a winning combination. I think this is the strongest crew chief/driver lineup, and all four cars, that Hendrick Motorsports possibly has ever had.”
The strength of the Kahne-Francis pairing rests in the duo’s ability to communicate.
“It’s great to have someone who I can communicate really well with and understand,” Kahne said. “He understands what I’m getting at a lot of the times, maybe even prior to me explaining it completely. He’s already on the same page.”
Eleven wins, 39 top-five finishes and 80 top-10s illustrate the powerful teamwork Kahne and Francis have developed since they first were paired in 2006. Francis believes Kahne has a knack for explaining the technical issues, which makes his job easier.
“He’s a smart person, he understands the car,” Francis said. “If we have ideas, we can talk about them in pretty technical terms and he understands it and can grasp what we’re trying to do. In doing that, he’s able to give better feedback while driving.”
The partnership will get its first real test of the 2012 season on Feb. 18 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, when Kahne lines up for the Budweiser Shootout. Fans can watch the exhibition race on FOX at 8 p.m. ET.