Late-season progress leaves Kasey Kahne optimistic

Kasey Kahne meets with the media Wednesday during the NASCAR Media Tour in Charlotte (Greg Engle)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Four years into his tenure at Hendrick Motorsports, Kasey Kahne is still looking for the sorts of results both he and team owner Rick Hendrick expected when Kahne signed on with the organization in 2010—and then waited a year to take the seat of the No. 5 Chevrolet.

Kahne hasn’t won a race since he triumphed at Atlanta on Aug. 31, 2014. In each of the last three seasons, he has posted three top-five finishes compared with 23 in his first two years with Hendrick combined (2012-2013).

Nevertheless, the gains the entire organization made in the speed of its cars has Kahne in an upbeat mood as the 2017 season approaches. After all, teammate Jimmie Johnson won last year’s championship.

“I think it’s more optimism and just feeling good about where we went last year,” Kahne said. “Where we started—consistent 18th to 20th—was not anything that we wanted, and after the last 12 to 14 races, we were eighth to 10th, so that jump, that consistency that we showed throughout the whole season for the speed of the car I thought was good.

“We’re working hard to make another jump, because eighth to 10th isn’t where we want to be either. Definitely, a lot of progress from where we were the first half of (last) season to where we ended; we can only build on that. We know where we made those gains as a company and as a team, and we will just get better from there.”