By admin | August 29, 2008
By Richard Allen
Just four races ago in Pocono Kasey Kahne looked like a certainty to make the Chase for the Championship. In Pocono he finished 7th which placed him 7th in the overall point standings, well within the Top 12 necessary to make the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff.
The next week in Watkins Glen Kahne did nothing to hurt his chances. Not noted as a great road course racer, he finished 14th on the twisting track. That finish placed him in the 8th spot of the overall standings, still well within the Top 12 and a positioned him a seemingly comfortable 107 points ahead of 13th place Clint Bowyer.
Now, after two consecutive 40th place finishes in Michigan and Bristol, Kahne finds himself on the outside looking in on the Chase picture.
And worse, not only is the #9 team outside the Top 12, they are 14th. That, of course, means they have to jump over two teams to get back into the picture. Not only will the Gillett Evernham Motorsports team have to be on their game over the next two weeks, they will have to depend on two other teams having poor runs.
The next two races are in California at the Auto Club Speedway and at the Richmond International Raceway. Kahne has had success at both tracks but he has also had poor showings at both facilities.
The Budweiser Dodge driver won in the Los Angeles area in 2006, which was in the old style car. He has also had three Top 5s and six Top 10s on the 2 mile track. However, he has also had two finishes of 38th or worse. Still, his average finish is a very respectable 13.7.
In Richmond, Kahne has also had one win. He has had two Top 5s and five Top 10s. Unfortunately for the GEM driver, he has four runs of 24th or worse on the ¾ mile track, pulling his average finish down to 17.3.
Kahne has had good runs on both of the two upcoming tracks. But, he has also had disappointing efforts on both tracks. Going into this week and next, Kahne and his crew must be on top of their game. A poor finish in either race will doom their chances for making the Chase for the Championship.
The harsh reality is, however, that two good runs may not be good enough to pass two other teams and make up the 56 points Kahne has to make up on 12th place.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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