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Did Kasey Kahne’s lack of aggression in Bristol show class or weakness?

By admin | August 24, 2013

Kasey Kahne was upset with himself after Saturday night’s race in Bristol.

By Richard Allen

A couple of weeks ago in Watkins Glen, Kasey Kahne crashed out of the Sprint Cup race there after contact between Matt Kenseth and another car left him in the wrong place at the wrong time. That was the fourth time this season(the other three from Kyle Busch) that the Hendrick Motorsports driver had been wrecked as a result of the actions of a Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

Later that night, Kahne took to Twitter to say that he was going over to the JGR shop to get some answers. Most likely, that never happened. But Saturday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway provided Kahne with the opportunity to get some payback for a season’s worth of debt…and he failed to cash in.

During a late race caution period in the Irwin Tools Night Race at BMS, crew chief Kenny Francis called Kahne to pit road for new tires and a full tank of fuel. Meanwhile, Kenseth and other front runners stayed on track despite the fact that they were cutting it very close on fuel. Once the green flag waved again, Kahne quickly sliced through the field toward the front.

With less than ten laps to go, Kahne’s Chevrolet closed to the rear bumper of Kenseth’s Toyota. The two cars ran in each other’s tire tracks right against the outside wall as the laps wound down with everyone in the facility anticipating what might happen as the checkered flag loomed.

Vote in the poll question on Kasey Kahne———————————>

But in the end, Kahne never made the aggressive move many expected. He made efforts to pass Kenseth cleanly, and even got alongside on a couple of occasions. However, Kenseth had the preferred line and held on for the win.

Seemingly, if ever a driver had a right to move another driver out of the way, it was on this occasion. But Kahne chose not to do so.

When asked by ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch if he had other options on the last lap, Kahne replied that, “You always have other options. I had a really good car. We were fast. Kenny made a great call to get tires and not have to worry about fuel. I just didn’t get it done. I had the better car and the guys did an awesome job in the pits. I feel bad that I didn’t win. We needed this, it could have been big for us but we ended up second. It’s still a good points day.”

Punch pressed on with the line of questioning by pointing out that TV booth commentators Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were urging Kahne to be more aggressive in the closing laps.

“If I was trying to get there I would’ve probably wrecked both of us,” Kahne declared. ”I just tried to pass him as clean as I could and race him as hard as I could. I thought I had him at one point, I had a good run and tried to slide across but he just kept position. We were rubbing all the way off turn four. I just didn’t get it done, and I’m upset with myself for not figuring out how to win tonight because I clearly had the better car at the end of the race.”

The bigger issue for Kahne might not simply be the loss of one race, but rather, the fact that he owed payback and didn’t deliver when he had a perfect chance. He runs the risk of sending the message that he can be pushed around and he won’t push back.

There’s no doubt Kasey Kahne is one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR. But there have been questions in the past about his toughness. He was clearly upset after Saturday’s race ended, and for good reason.

Call it classy or clean racing if you want, but the other drivers in the garage area are more likely to call it weakness. And there are plenty of people in that garage looking to take advantage of whatever weakness they can find.

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20 Responses to “Did Kasey Kahne’s lack of aggression in Bristol show class or weakness?”

  1. Robert Green Says:
    August 24th, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    Did I not see Kasey bump Matt coming out of turn 4 on the last lap? The problem? Kasey stayed right in line with the 20 and didn’t attempt to pass. Doesn’t that bump count for agression on Kahne’s part? Here’s the last 5 laps:

  2. Robin Miller Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 7:59 am

    Why stoop to the level of KB and other drivers that can only win by taking someone else out. Kasey is a class act and would rather win a race by using his driving skills instead of a hot head. Weakness is when you know you can’t beat a guy fairly so you crash him out of your way. Respect? Did Joey gain any respect for taking out Hamlin? I think not!

  3. fuel pump Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 8:04 am

    I respect KK for what he did (or didn’t do) but I wouldn’t hire a driver that wouldn’t race harder for the win on the last lap.

  4. Tony Geinzer Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Everyone is seeing Hendrick falling uglier than Camelot and trust me, this one is lower than Richard canning Maurice after letting Inman Go. I fear Gibbs and Rowdy are stirring the still and ruining the Chase for Everybody.

  5. Cathy Rooks Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Kasey is a Class Act! I am so Proud to call myself a Fan of his! Love my driver! #Faithinthe5

  6. Offkilter Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 9:18 am

    I applaud that Khane races with class, but his team positioned him with the fastest car at the end and they deserved that win. If it had been a team other than a JGR car after what they’ve done to HMS cars in the past and this year, no big deal. But dog gone it, Khane has a couple of get out of jail free passes in his pocket. Wish he would have cashed one of them in last night.

  7. midasmicah Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Simply put, this is what points racing to make the chase has done to nas$car. Most drivers in the hunt will drive with caution. This is racing?

  8. Mags Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Did Kasey Kahne’s lack of aggression in Bristol show class or weakness?” Definitely CLASS - He could have wrecked Kenseth and stooped to other drivers’ tactics (and maybe should have considering needed payback) but that is not Kasey. And we are so proud of him.

  9. Char Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I still think second is better than a crash. I think Kasey raced Matt classfully which is same Matt is known for. He knows deep down that Kenseth didn’t “purposely” cause him problems and did not the three times he raced him for the win. I’d rather see someone race their skills and if they wreck then they tried rather than take someone out like Rowdy did. This is called racing isn’t it or should we call it “:Crashing” instead. Kudos to both Kasey and Matt in their classy racing.

  10. Benjamin P. Glaser Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    Now that I have had a night to sleep on it, I am starting to believe Kasey did the right thing.

  11. Tess Toth Says:
    August 25th, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    Kasey is classy and well respected. He is nowhere near a weak driver! If he was, then he wouldn’t have as many wins as he has! He has respect from just about everyone in the garage for a very good reason. So what if he’s not dirty or aggressive? He is who he is and no one can make him change that

  12. kb Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Having the stupid “Chase” cut the season by 10 races (it does) I can’t say I blame the driver for “playing it safe” and do the stupid points race dance. They are to a large degree “point racing” to make the “Chase” because if you don’t you are just a loser of a driver and you suck, etc. which is by far from the truth, but that is what the mindset of a “playoff”has wrought, among other insane ideas. Let em’ race till Homestead, I’m sure better racing will be had!

  13. Russ Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 5:32 am

    Maybe it simply showed how hard it is to pass in a spec series.

  14. Jim Russell Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Not only is Kasey Kahne a class act, based on the comments here, so are his fans.

  15. Victor Johnson Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 11:11 am

    I love the way Kasey races. Hate it that some people think that auto racing is roller derby. Deliberately wrecking someone is wrong. Serious injuries can still happen. Have no respect for the bump and run guys. Dale senior and Jeff Gordon won a quarter of their races using this shameful tactic.

  16. SV Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 12:57 pm

    Weakness. Moving a guy outta the way at Daytona or Texas or one of the fast tracks would be stupid, but if you can’t apply the chrome horn at a short track like Bristol then why even show up? Kasey Kahne is vanilla. Kasey Kahne has no passion. When I have insomnia I listen to his press conferences. Yawn.

  17. Nelson Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I’m not a big Kasey Kahne fan, and I’m also a Montoya fan. There would have been nothing more I would have liked to have seen then the 20 and 5 get together and giving Juan some of that luck that he didnt have at Richmond when he seemed to have the win locked up.

    With that said, Kasey was definitely classy and I both admired that and gained some more respect for him. He would have been completely justified to pay back, and in my opinion he still does have that right. I dont think it makes him weaker at all, and it was a smart move IMO. No need escalating a grudge match with the Chase coming up. There will always be another chance at sending a message if need be.

  18. James Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    We saw a good race KK raced hard and least he raced. Much better than fuel mileage races when no one races or are in fuel saving mode hoping to make it to the end like last week. Harvick didn’t try to run Joey down knowing he could run out of gas. best races this year were KK and matt actually racing and KK and Gordon at pocono . Takes
    Guts to race hard side by side for several laps vs a bump and run

  19. Keith Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Weakness after being pushed around by the Gibbs cars all year nobody now will worry about pushing him out of the way for the win because they know he won’t retaliate. If he did not bump another teams driver out of the way it might not be seen as weakness but it looks that way to the other drivers now.

  20. Tim Smith Says:
    August 26th, 2013 at 7:46 pm

    I met Bill Elliott once and he was asked would he ever bump someone or wreck someone to win. He said if he ever had to do that to win he would finish second. That my friends is class. Kasey Kahne is class. And he will be champ.