For Kasey Kahne, and others who share the same scenario, Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway (7:30 p.m. on NBCSN) may be the most difficult last-chance qualifier ever conceived in stock car racing.
Kahne entered the race in a win-or-else situation, with the “or else” aspect being absence from the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup this year.
It took 11th-hour heroics last year at Atlanta for Kahne to make the Chase, but the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet is realistic enough to know he needs a backup plan that doesn’t include participation in NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.
Chase or not, Kahne hopes he and his team can use the final 10 races wisely.
“It’s to try to finish strong and be more prepared when next season starts, no matter what car we run or what team we have,” Kahne said. “We just want to be better off than what we were this year.
“We ran pretty good at the start of this year and then didn’t run very well for a while, and that’s kind of why we’re 17th or 19th or wherever we are in points (actually 17th). There’s been a bit of bad luck, which you have each season, and then it’s just been a struggle to finish top five or top 10. And that’s what we need to get a lot better at, if we want to contend for wins and ultimately make it into the Chase and a championship down the road.”