February 28, 2017
“It’s time to start something new and trust in the magic of beginnings” – Anonymous
It is safe to say that we all know this is a huge season for Kasey Kahne. With a contract end looming in 2018, 2017 is the year to step up or time to think about moving on. As much as it breaks my heart to say that as a fan, my heart strives for Kasey to be happy and successful. If that has to be someplace else, so be it. If it doesn’t have to be though, I don’t want it to be. 2017 can be our year. Early signs point to the team stepping up with a great outcome and speed at Daytona.
Throughout the weekend the team showed speed by ranking high on the charts during practice which led to a 10th place qualifying effort. Once the qualifying duels rolled around, Kasey didn’t fair nearly as well. He survived and was able to take his car to Sunday unlike many but ended up starting 26th.
Prior to the 500 on Sunday, Kasey also competed in the Xfinity series race on Saturday, scoring a second place finish. He was also one of five cars to escape the day without getting involved in one of the many wrecks in the nearly four-hour race. This was a huge feat for Kasey this weekend since he has a petty bad streak of luck at Daytona and getting caught up in others messes.
Stage one wasn’t the cleanest for Kasey as he fought high temperatures because he picked up trash on his grill early. This put him far back in the pack. Once he got in for his pit stop, he was ready to charge to the front. He ended the first stage in 31st.
Heading into Stage two, the #5 team was ready to make some noise. Kasey quickly bolted up the field, getting up and rafting with the leaders and showing his speed. He got shuffled back and forth due to the general nature of Daytona but was quickly able to recover most of the time. He ended up walking away from stage two in the 14th position, improving significantly from the first stage.
In the third and most important stage, Kasey truly stepped up and showed what the #5 car was made of. He drove the car up to the top spot on lap 129 and held the lead for multiple laps. This is incredibly significant because last season Kasey wasn’t able to lead a single lap. He finished the most laps of any driver last season but leading one eluded him. Luckily, he was able to get that out of the way the first race out of the gate this season.
In recent years, Kasey has preferenced running up front over sitting in the back waiting the race out, I have noticed. This was a great help Sunday because being in the first few positions kept him out of the many wrecks that plagued the third stage of the race. Kasey eventually lost the lead but didn’t fall far. He remained in contention the entire segment, even down to the final laps. Most of the field was close on fuel, just as Kasey was. In the final laps as everyone was making their final surge, Kasey was running third. Sadly, he never got the chance to make his own move. Kasey stretched enough fuel together to stumble across the line in 7th place.
As a fan, this race felt amazing. As upsetting as it was to hear in the end that he ran out of fuel, Kasey and the team persevered all day, not to mention he had luck all weekend which is just absolute magic (believe me, if you were a part of this fan base you would know luck really isn’t Kasey’s thing) and managed to survive the mayhem that was Daytona this year. I can only hope this momentum continues onto Atlanta, which also happens to be one of Kasey’s best and favorite tracks.
It is impossible to walk into Daytona without hope and a spark of magic that this could be your driver’s year. You hope and pray that its finally their time to own the track, own the trophies and hold that championship at Homestead. After seeing Kasey’s perseverance and speed at Daytona, I have no doubt that can be us just 9 short months from now.
Here is to 2017 and all the moment’s and memories it is bound to bring us!
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