Hendrick Motorsports new signing Kasey Kahne is optimistic that his new team will offer him his best chance yet at mounting a challenge for a spot in the Chase. Kahne, who finished 14th in points in 2011 with a win the penultimate race at Phoenix for the now defunct Red Bull Racing team, tested for his new squad for the first time at Daytona last week and was pleased with the way he settled in.
“I've always thought that if we do everything right and are consistent, that we could contend,” Kahne said, after pushing his team-mate Jeff Gordon to the top of the time sheets on Saturday at 200.562 mph.
“To win it is another story. I don't think you can say because you're here, now you can win a championship because there are so many little things that you have to do and you have to do as a team. So if we can put that full deal together, this is definitely a place that wins championships.”
“It definitely takes time because it’s all different,” Kahne added. “The way they build the parts and pieces and the way that feels to me and the way I relay that to Kenny [Francis, Kahne's crew chief since 2006] – that’s something that takes time, and hopefully it doesn’t take us too long. But there will definitely be some things that will confuse me at times for sure!”
The 31-year old also said that he was looking forward to racing alongside his illustrious team-mates, who have won 8 titles between them.
“It’s neat, though. It’s awesome to be able to talk with Jimmie [Johnson] and Dale [Earnhardt Jr.] and Jeff [Gordon] about racing and driving and things like that, and then just all the people that they have there.
“I don’t know; it’s just been kind of a different feeling more than anything than what I’ve had before at other race teams. It’s a great opportunity, and I want to take full advantage of it.”
Gordon was keen to welcome the 2004 rookie of the year to the team.
“They're a great addition” he said of Kahne and Francis. “I think they're a great package. They seem to really get along well and understand one another well. Kenny is a super smart guy. I think he’s a great crew chief, and I think that Kasey is one of the top drivers in the series.
“Kasey and I have been texting one another back and forth all last year. Every time that we were fast in qualifying or won a race, he was texting me, and I kept telling him, we’re just getting things ready for when you come!” Gordon added.