Kasey Kahne had a realization during the second stage of the Cup race Saturday night at Daytona.
“I knew I had a shot. I knew I had a car capable,” he said. “Once we got going in the second stage I knew my car was capable of winning, it was just a matter of where I put it and the places I put it in, and we ended up fourth, so not good enough.”
But Kahne did have a shot, and until the checkered flag flew, it was a really good one.
Surviving the carnage of five wrecks, Kahne surged to the lead on Lap 138. Kahne would control the race from the top spot for 17 laps, which for part of the ride was a single-file train of nine cars.
A caution with less than 10 laps to go of the originally scheduled race distance bunched the field up, and Kahne lost the top spot on the ensuing restart. Choosing to line up on the outside, Kahne gave the bottom to Kevin Harvick, who had Martin Truex Jr. behind him.
Harvick and Truex left Kahne behind. Asked about the decision to line up as he did on the restart, Kahne said it was the right move.
“My spotter told me they broke up on the bottom. He said, ‘Clear, broke up on the bottom,’ and the 88 [Alex Bowman] was close to me, so I stayed up too long, and they went by me on the bottom, and they weren’t broke up,” said Kahne. “They must have broke up more in the corner, and we just miscommunicated a little bit. Everything worked perfect. If I did it right there, I would have got right back in front of Harvick, the only spot I wanted to be. I think what I did was perfect; I just didn’t capitalize on the backstretch.”
Kahne would briefly jump ahead of Truex on the overtime restart off Turn 2 before being shuffled three-wide down the backstretch.
“I felt really good about it,” Kahne said of the night. “It awesome for the team because of everything they put into it, and they deserve to run up front. Today we had a car capable. Sonoma we had a car capable of running top 10. So, two of the last three has been really good. We have to keep building on that, and we’re slowly getting to where we want to be but it takes time, and I think we’re getting there slowly.”
Daytona was Kahne’s first top-10 finish of the season and tied the best finish for the Leavine Family Racing organization; Michael McDowell also came home fourth in this race last year.