CHARLOTTE, N.C. – As the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season approaches, every driver gets a fresh start.
For Kasey Kahne, however, he can’t wait to keep building on last season’s progress.
“Where we started -- consistent 18th to 20th -- was not anything that we wanted," he acknowledged. "After the last 12 to 14 races we were eighth to 10th. So, that jump, that consistency that we showed throughout the whole season for the speed of the car I thought was good. We are working hard to make another jump because eighth to 10th isn’t where we want to be, either."
Looking across Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne said he was encouraged by the finish by the entire organization in 2016, from Jimmie Johnson’s championship to Chase Elliott’s Rookie of the Year campaign to the No. 5 team’s gains.
Last season, Kahne posted his most top-10 results since 2013. And to the driver’s point, of his 21 top-14 finishes last season, 12 of them occurred in the final 14 races of the season.
And the team hasn’t stopped working.
“Since Monday after Homestead I have been with (crew chief) Keith (Rodden), I’ve been with our engineers and all of us as a team, from the pit crew side to the road guys, the guys building the cars, we have been a team and we have been working to progress in those same areas that we made the gains in,” he said. “Everybody is working hard, but for us we are going in the right direction and it is going to show this year and I’m looking forward to that.”
Kahne noted that where he and the No. 5 team want to be is in Victory Lane, and that starts with running consistently inside the top 10 and leading laps, both of which he expects to do in 2017.
Above all, one goal stands out, and it revolves around his son, Tanner.
“He just turned 15 months, so he is growing and changing so quickly. He is a complete blast,” Kahne said.
“I really want to be in Victory Lane with him.”