The 2016 NASCAR season will be here soon, and Athlon Sports is helping you prep for the season with a scouting report and fantasy preview for each of the top 16 drivers. The Athlon Sports 2016 Racing Preview, available on newsstands now, includes previews and stats for every driver and every track.
Kasey Kahne checks in at No. 14 in our countdown. Here’s what his season could look like on the track and on your fantasy team:
“I think Kasey Kahne is on his last leg right now. I’m surprised that he got a two-year extension (from Hendrick Motorsports),” a former driver says. “It seems like Kasey is very temperamental with the car. I can’t put my finger on it, but all I can say is this: The last 2-3 years of Kasey Kahne’s career, you would not know he’s a 17-time Cup winner.
“This year is his make-or-break year. (Team owner) Rick Hendrick cannot keep this at status quo. If Rick keeps the same crew chief all next year and it doesn’t work, then he’s going to have to make a change. Kasey has won 17 Cup races, but it’s almost as if he’s fallen off the face of the earth. If he would not have won 17 races earlier, he would not have been in the car this long.”
When The Slump Starts… Trust it. In each of his four seasons driving for Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne has gone five races or more in a row without a top-10 finish. Last year, he posted a streak of 11 events outside the top 10, a midsummer slump that all but eliminated his Chase chances. One of the sport’s streakier drivers, Kahne often struggles to let bad finishes go, and it comes back to haunt him.
Down the Charlotte Chute: Kahne has four career victories at Charlotte Motor Speedway but only one with his current ride at Hendrick. Kahne has just one top-10 finish there in his last four starts and wound up dead last in October after a wreck.
Monster Step? Dover has been a tough track for Kahne, but it’s the only track the Cup Series visited twice last year where he posted top-10 finishes in both events. It’s one of the few tracks where you can count on the No. 5 car to perform.