Everyone who follows NASCAR, including Kasey Kahne, was waiting for the 2012 season to begin. Kasey was finally starting his season with Hendrick Motorsports (HMS) in the iconic No. 5 Chevrolet after over a year of waiting. It goes without saying that the expectations were high.
I hate to use an overused phrase but if you look up “Major Letdown,” the definition would be the start of Kahne’s first season at HMS. His best finish in the first six races was a 14th at Fontana. After six races, he wasn’t just in danger of not making the Chase for the Sprint Cup. He was in danger of staying in the top 35 in points with the guaranteed starting position that comes with that.
Seven races in a row with a top ten finish, including a win at Charlotte, righted the ship. Kahne was now showing the promise that we were all waiting for, but we couldn’t get excited because the next two races were not good. In the rest of the summer, including a win at Loudon, he was able to build back up. He got into 11th place and earned a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Because he was not in the top ten in points, he was seeded 11th place due to his two wins over Jeff Gordon’s one win.
When it was all said and done, in spite of a really poor start, he finished the season with two wins, 12 top five and 19 top ten finishes. He led a dismal 282 laps, though. Statistically his season was second best to 2006, his third year in the Cup, when he finished eighth in the standings, but finishing fourth was his best career finish.
Kahne and the whole No. 5 Farmers Insurance team should be proud of what they accomplished in 2012 after their horrible start. In 2013, expect him to continue doing well. It may still be early for him to be a challenger for the Championship, but who knows? Until his 25th place finish at Texas this year, he had a chance provided the other drivers faltered.