DAYTONA RECAP: Kasey Kahne started sixth in the season-opening Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and was working his way to third on Lap 28 when he was collected in a multi-car incident. Kahne’s team worked quickly in the garage to make repairs, and the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet SS returned to the track at Lap 89 to pick up valuable points. Kahne gained a couple positions and finished the race 36th. The 32-year-old driver currently ranks 34th in the driver standings.
PHOENIX WINNER: Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Quaker State Chevrolet SS, became the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to reach Victory Lane at the reconfigured Phoenix International Raceway in November 2011 after he took the checkered flag in the Kobalt Tools 500. Kahne started 10th and spent most of the race running in the top 10, leading the final 14 laps on his way to his first Sprint Cup win at the one-mile oval.
QUAKER STATE: Quaker State returns as a primary partner with Kahne for its second straight season and will adorn the hood of the No. 5 Chevrolet in four Sprint Cup Series events this year — March 3 at Phoenix, April 27 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, June 29 at Kentucky Speedway and Oct. 12 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The Quaker State and Hendrick Motorsports relationship began in 1996 and during this partnership, Quaker State has helped deliver a total of nine Sprint Cup championships and 160 race victories.
KAHNE AT PHOENIX: Kahne most recently finished fourth at Phoenix in November 2012 and was one of three drivers to spend the entire extended 319-lap event running inside the top 15. He has one win, three top-five finishes and six top-10s in 17 Cup starts at the desert track. He has qualified inside the top 10 during the last four races at the one-mile Avondale, Ariz., oval.
INTERMEDIATE TRACK STATS: Kahne has collected nine of his 14 career Cup wins and 15 of his 26 pole positions on intermediate tracks. In 18 starts on tracks from one to (but not including) two miles in length, Kahne scored an average finish of 10.9 in 2012.
CHASSIS CHOICE: Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-769 for Sunday’s event at Phoenix. Kahne has not tested nor raced this car.
HENDRICK AT PHOENIX: In 33 races (119 starts) at Phoenix, Hendrick Motorsports has nine wins, 33 top-five finishes and 58 top-10s. Hendrick Motorsports, which won six straight events there from April 2007 to November 2009, is the only Cup team to have multiple drivers win from the pole position at the one-mile desert oval: Jeff Gordon in April 2007; Jimmie Johnson in November 2008 and Mark Martin in April 2009. Johnson, who most recently won there in November 2009, leads several statistical categories including most wins (four), top-five finishes (tied with 12), laps led (931). Johnson is the only driver to have won three straight races at Phoenix (November 2007, April 2008 and November 2008).
DOUBLE-DIGIT: Hendrick Motorsports has 10 or more victories at nine tracks on the Cup circuit. A win at Phoenix would give the organization 10 there and would match its current total of 10 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
KASEY KAHNE, DRIVER, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET SS (ON THE STRONG NASCAR FAN BASE IN HIS HOME STATE OF WASHINGTON.): “I’ve always thought that the more often I go home or go to a race in Vegas or Phoenix, you see more and more people from Washington so there’s a big fan base out there, and I think it’s still growing and it’ll always grow so it’s neat. And with some of the new changes to the sport like bringing these new cars in, the Gen-6 car and Chevy SS for us, I think that’s going to motivate a lot of people. For fans to see that car as what they’re selling in the show room, it’s pretty neat. I’m excited about it. Eventually maybe we can get a track up in the Northwest because I think it’d do great up there.”
KAHNE (ON HIS EXPECTIONS FOR THE 2013 NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES SEASON.): “My expectations are to be consistent, win races and make the Chase. If you get to that point, then you have a shot for sure. It’s just how you go about those final 10 races. We’ve been right in the hunt. You have to be competitive and you have to think that, ‘We can do it. We can win races, and we can eventually win a championship.’ Since I started in racing, you have to listen in order to get better — away from the track, on the track, whatever it is, you need to listen and get better from people that have done it. My teammates are three of the best guys on the track and off the track I can learn from, and then we have Mr. H (Rick Hendrick, team owner) who is always right there. He just gives us all such great opportunity.”
KENNY FRANCIS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 5 QUAKER STATE CHEVROLET SS (ON THE TEAMWORK DYNAMIC AT HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS): “We’re definitely working as four teams together here, and the new car is driving that as far as the basic underlying ‘what makes this car tick’ type of thought process. The other part of it is we’re kind of late getting cars together from years past how we like to do things. We like to be a little more ahead so we’re all trying to draw together. The fab shop is all working together and that’s where a lot of the work’s getting done as far as building the cars. Between the wind tunnel tests, the aero department and all the fab shops are working together to figure out the best parts and pieces.”