Kahne’s style suited for Fontana track

first_imgAlthough he’s sitting out the Stater Bros. 300 this time around, Kahne returns to Fontana as a favorite to win Sunday’s Auto Club 500. California Speedway ranks as one of Kahne’s best tracks, where an average finish of 11.0 in six Nextel Cup races is second only to Jimmie Johnson’s 8.0 average finish. The former USAC sprint car champion claims that the 2-mile oval – with its 3,100-foot frontstretch and 2,600-foot backstretch – fits his driving style perfectly. “My strengths are the same since I came into the Busch Series,” said Kahne, who finished fourth in last season’s Auto Club 500. “I’ve always done better on the mile-and-a-half and 2-mile race tracks. “Those are the tracks I run my best at. I need to work on the short tracks. I’ve come a long way in the last two years and I even ran second at Martinsville. “The road courses are my weakest link. For some reason, I’ve never been able to get through the full race. Last year, we qualified fifth (editor’s note: actually sixth at Sonoma) and second (at Watkins Glen), so it’s not about making a lap. It’s just about putting the full race together and to go fast the entire race. That’s something we haven’t learned yet.” What he has learned is how to win races on a frequent basis. Last season, Kahne led the Cup series with six wins, all on the high-horsepower tracks he prefers. Winning will pay greater dividends this season as NASCAR unveiled a new points structure in January, which gives five extra points for winning a race. If the new system had been implemented a year ago, Kahne would have entered the Chase for the Championship as the points leader. It comes as no surprise the Enumclaw, Wash., native fully supports these changes. “I think it’s good,” said Kahne, driver of the No.9 Dodge. “I knew there would be some changes and I was hoping for changes with wins. “It’s tough to win six times and it will be tough for us to do it again. That’s definitely what we are shooting for, to try to win races. Consistency is still a big deal in the Chase, especially in the first 26 races, but the wins are going to add up. That’s a huge start to the way the Chase will start out.” Consistency has been Kahne’s Achilles heel over his first three Nextel Cup seasons. While he’s won seven races and 12 poles in 108 starts, he’s finished in the top 10 less than 38 percent of the time. Most disturbing is an average of seven DNFs per season. A full 14 of those failures, including one in the 2005 Auto Club 500, can be attributed to driver crashes. His 2007 season has gotten off to a rough start. Team director Kenny Francis won’t make the trip to Fontana, suspended for four races after a rules infraction in Daytona 500 qualifying. We all just have to communicate between ourselves and use our heads,” Kahne said of his Evernham Motorsports teammates Scott Riggs and Elliott Sadler. “We should have cars to run up front pretty much at everywhere we go this year.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!center_img California Speedway is one of Kasey Kahne’s favorite tracks. That’s bad news for the rest of the Nextel Cup Series field. Kahne was easily the dominant driver the last time NASCAR visited Fontana in September. One day after winning the Busch Series Ameriquest 300, Kahne led 130 of 250 laps to capture a victory in the Nextel Cup Sony HD 500. last_img read more