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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After a busy offseason, Kasey Kahne couldn’t be more excited to start the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series campaign.

The driver of the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS said he and the team have worked “all winter long” to continue to make gains after closing the 2016 season on a high note.

He said all that work, starting the Monday after last year’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, has him ready to get back behind the wheel.

“As a driver, it is pretty easy to race,” he said. “That is all that I’ve ever wanted to do. So, when it’s racing season again, you jump in the car and you are ready to go.”

After making the final round of qualifying last Sunday, Kahne said his No. 5 Chevy was “really close” and he is excited to see how it performs in “The Great American Race” this Sunday.

“The No. 88 and No. 24 on the front row shows that the speeds at Hendrick Motorsports and we have some good cars,” he said. “Just a result on Sunday would be great to finish up front, battle for the win, all those things would carry momentum and confidence into Atlanta and Las Vegas and on.”

And carrying that momentum onto the rest of those tracks early in the season could be a big benefit to the No. 5 team.

“The start of the season can be very good for us because they are all tracks that I’ve either won at or came very close at,” Kahne explained. “And Hendrick Motorsports has won everywhere, so, I think if we do the right things we definitely should be performing early in the year.”

And with the new race format this season, that success could be apparent even before the final checkered flag waves.

Kahne noted that a stage win “would mean a lot” to him and the entire team.

“Anytime you can even lead laps, just be there and have a car that goes to the top of the board in practice – or at least top-five – all of that stuff is meaningful throughout a race weekend and builds confidence,” he said. “I think it could be a great boost to win some of those throughout the season. And maybe propel you into winning the entire race that day.”

Kahne races in the second of the two Duels, scheduled for approximately 9 p.m. ET, to determine where he will line up on the starting grid for Sunday’s Daytona 500.