By HEATHER WILLIAMS
5:44 PM CDT, April 9, 2012
There was a lot of optimism for Kasey Kahne headed into the season and why wouldn't there be? The 31 year old driver (32 Tuesday-yep it's his birthday) has enjoyed a lot of success in some situations that have been anything but stable. Add that to the fact he ended 2011 on a tear, and may thought Kahne, plus Hendrick Motorsports would equal pure NASCAR gold.
But it hasn't really worked out that way. Kahne and the number 5 team is in 31st place in the point standings after six races. So not only is he not competing for wins and spot on the Chase, he is barely hanging on to a spot in the top 35, and a guaranteed spot in the race each week.
"I would be (down) if my cars were slow, but everything has been so good," Kahne told the media in Fontana last week. "My team is so good. There's really no reason to be down, other than we're not in the position we want to be in."
Still the fact remains he is 133 points out of the lead. The most you can make up in one race is 48 points, which means Kahne is nearly three races behind. That's a tough hole to dig out off. And finding a way to turn it around, is not as easy as it sounds.
"Some of it may be bad luck, and then some of it may be me making mistakes," Kahne said. "Some of it's been luck, and I've messed up, but wrecking has been the problem. Everyone in NASCAR has wrecks."
The good news is, he has a very good organization around him. HMS has all the resources around him to get this thing turned in the right direction. And he only has to look with in the organization for proof it can be done. In 2007, Casey Mears (then in the Hendrick 25 car) was 35th in the points after 11 races. Later in the season and farther back, Mears battled all the way back to finish 15th in the points. And that was before the wild card. Under the current rules, Mears would have easily made the chase.
It's early. It's not time to hit the panic button yet if you are a Kahne fan, though you might want to at least know were the button is.
"It's actually nice that there's a lot of positive people out there," Kahne said. "It's cool to have. It's kind of cool to read some of that stuff, try to stay more positive and be ready to go each weekend. Most of the people that talk to me are super positive, and it's fun to talk to them."
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