CONCORD, N.C. – Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports took home two top-five finishes, and there was plenty to take away from the exciting race.
Kasey Kahne’s 2017 season is off to a fast start. After beginning Sunday’s race outside the top 25, Kahne and his No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet SS team got to work and continuously climbed toward the front of the pack. He jumped 25 spots from his 29th-place starting position to finish fourth, gaining his second top-10 of the season.
“It feels really good to dig out of where we started,” Kahne said. “For us, the last year or two it’s been really hard and today we did it, so that was really nice to see. It was nice to be a part of and we will just keep building from there.”
Kahne credited No. 5 team crew chief Keith Rodden and crew for helping improve the car all afternoon – and keeping him ahead of his competitors on pit road.
“We just had a great car and our final pit stop took us from 11th to sixth,” he said. “That was key for a top-five. So, that was really good.”
STRONG START TO SOPHOMORE SEASON
Joining Kahne in the top five Sunday was teammate Chase Elliott.
Elliott and the No. 24 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS team had another strong finish in Atlanta this week. He finished in the top five at the end of all three stages at his hometown track. Elliott bounced back from a pit road penalty that forced him to take a pass-through to finish the race fifth, earning his second top-five result of the season.
He was disappointed not to find Victory Lane, but proud of the team’s effort to recover from the late-race penalty.
“I don’t think that was the reason we didn’t have an opportunity there at the end,” Elliott said of the penalty. “We rebounded from that. We got right back to where we were, which was a big gain.
“Our car was really good.”
PIT ROAD PENALTIES
Elliott wasn’t the only Hendrick Motorsports teammate to suffer from a pit road penalty.
Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. both experienced pit road penalties in Atlanta. Earnhardt’s came in Stage 1 during a green-flag pit stop, while Johnson was penalized in both Stage 2 and the final stage. The Hendrick Motorsports teammates were part of a group of 11 drivers that were penalized for speeding on pit road.
“Well, we got caught speeding on pit road as I guess a lot of people did,” Earnhardt said. “So, we’ve got to look at that see what we have wrong.”
Both Johnson and Earnhardt finished off of the lead lap, but the driver of the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS said there were still positives as he looks forward to another shot at Las Vegas next weekend.“The car had good top-10 speed and we just had a lot of bad luck today and can’t really get too upset about that,” Earnhardt said, noting a tire issue in Stage 1. “Just have to keep racing when it does go right next week and we are ready to go and capitalize.”