Driver hits hard coming out of Turn 3, exits race RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LONG POND, Pa. -- Kasey Kahne lost control of his No. 5 Chevrolet on Lap 4 of Sunday's Windows 10 400 , hitting the inside pit wall and bringing an early end to his day in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway. "I just got really loose really late, so far off the corner," Kahne told reporters outside the infield care center. "Really late exit. Not sure why or what happened. I just jumped out and you are so far off the corner that it's a slow slide so far down pit road. It was crazy. I've never ended up over there like that. I don't know why that was." Kahne came off of Turn 3 and smacked the wall of pit road hard around pit stalls 39 and 40, which were the pit boxes of AJ Allmendinger and Travis Kvapil . The hit caused major damage to Kahne's car and damage to the pit road wall. A NASCAR spokesperson confirmed there were no injuries in the incident. For his part, Kahne said "I'm fine" and added that "I wasn't afraid I hit anyone because it threw me right back off the wall. I was hoping that everybody saw me coming because I was coming fairly fast." Pocono Raceway President/CEO Brandon Igdalsky and track workers inspected the damage before workers welded the damaged wall as a red flag was displayed. That red flag lasted 14 minutes, 43 seconds. The incident was similar to what happened to Jeb Burton and his No. 26 Toyota in Saturday's final practice session. Burton came off of Turn 3 loose and went into the pit road wall. The damage from that hit forced the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate to a backup car for Sunday's race. The early exit and last-place finish for Kahne could not have come at a worse time for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. After an eighth-place finish at Sonoma Raceway in June, Kahne was eighth in the point standings. Since then, Kahne has not finished better than 19th, with a 32nd-place result at Daytona, 27th-place finish at Kentucky, 19th-place finish at Loudon and a 24th-place result at Indianapolis. "That's really bad for points," Kahne said. "It's bad for just our team to lose a car that quickly into this race. And the last month has been really bad, and that was worse. I don't know what the deal is right there, how that happened. I just lost it, late exit and spun. Got loose, spun." Entering Pocono, Kahne was 13th in the point standings and holding the second-to-last spot in the provisional Chase Grid. Sunday's 43rd-place finish unofficially dropped him to 15th in the points standings, but he's still in the Chase Grid in the No. 16 spot. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kasey Kahne slides off Turn 3 and ends up hitting the pit-road wall.
Hendrick driver kicks off Shark Week with special paint scheme SHOP: Kahne gear RELATED: Kahne driving full throttle into Cup future The instructions were simple enough. If you lose your balance or get knocked over, don't wave your arms. Don't attempt to catch yourself. The sharks will come after you if you do. As if racing at nearly 200 mph while surrounded by 42 others all battling for the same real estate wasn't dangerous enough, Kasey Kahne recently spent a few days in the water in the Bahamas. Surrounded by sharks. "One time one rubbed me pretty good; the back half of him hit me," Kahne said. "I didn't go over, but he rubbed me pretty good. Another time another one was pretty close, and I was like petting him in a way. I don't know if you pet sharks, but I touched his skin. It was real hard and rough, really tough." Kahne , driver of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series made the trip to film for Discovery Channel's upcoming Shark Week effort that kicks off Sunday night. Great Clips, a primary sponsor of Kahne's team, has backed the network's annual week-long programming for the past three seasons. "Maybe they weren't Great Whites, but they were big," Kahne said of the scuba diving excursion that placed him in the water surrounded by Caribbean reef sharks and other creatures from the deep. "I enjoyed it ... it was a neat experience and I'm really glad I got to do that." Kahne said he went through an hour-long class to familiarize himself with the equipment and the process. After diving to just under 40 feet, he settled in as a fellow diver drew the sharks in with food. "The biggest thing is just to keep your hands to yourself, don't move your hands because they're looking for food," Kahne said. "We had a guy down there in something like a steel mesh suit feeding them to keep them around us. So keep your hands to yourself, kind of keep them close to your chest and if a shark runs into you, just fall over. "You're seated on the floor, kind of have your legs wrapped around a rock to kind of hold yourself up because you're on your knees. Just fall over and kind of slowly get back up. "It was more about not making quick moves so it doesn't get their attention. It was really under control, really exciting. I loved it." Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet will feature a Shark Week/Great Clips paint scheme for Sunday's Coke Zero 400 (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM) at Daytona International Speedway. RELATED: See Kahne's paint scheme "I grew up as a kid watching a lot of the Shark Week shows," he said. "I still do and it'll be pretty fun to see myself on there for 2-3 minutes. I think kids love that type of stuff and I think that's why it's such a big deal to Great Clips. All the kids that they see, I think the Shark Week involvement is a pretty neat deal. They do a great job with it. "I had a blast. I'll go back and do it again. I don't know if I'll swim with sharks again -- I don't know how to set all that stuff up -- but I'll definitely scuba." Watch Kahne swim with the sharks below. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne make contact sending Earnhardt through the grass and into the wall.
Kevin Harvick will also start from the front row in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 RELATED: Full qualifying results " See the 43-car lineup BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kevin Harvick had his sights set on a clean sweep of knockout qualifying at Michigan International Speedway —until Kasey Kahne had other ideas late in Friday’s final round. Kahne sped around the two-mile track in 35.645 seconds (201.992 mph) to knock Harvick off the pole for Sunday's Quicken Loans 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race (1 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM). Harvick, who posted a 201.613 mph lap in the final session, had topped the charts in the first two rounds, matching Kahne's pole-winning time in the second. The Coors Light Pole Award was Kahne's first of the season and the 27th of his career—but his first since the October 2012 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway . Brad Keselowski (201.449 mph) qualified third, followed by Carl Edwards (201.067 mph) and Ryan Blaney (201.056 mph), who is running a partial schedule in the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford. With a 2012 repaving project having narrowed the racing groove at Michigan, Kahne underscored the value of starting up front—and staying there. "It's going to be really important," said Kahne , who also gets the benefit of selecting pit stall No. 1., closest to the exit from pit road. "The track is going to change a lot, though, come Sunday, with all the racing going on this weekend and then our practices (on Saturday). "The track will be a lot different Sunday. So, there will be some passing for sure, but it's not going to be easy. So track position will play a big role in being there at the end of the race." Harvick remains the only driver to sweep all three rounds of qualifying at a single track, a feat he accomplished last year at Michigan and Indianapolis, but he fell .067 seconds of doing so for a third time. "I don't know that I got everything out of it (the final lap), but the rounds were within seven hundredths (of a second) of each other, " Harvick said. "The guys were doing a great job, and Kasey just got a little bit better lap there than we did." With possible rain in the forecast, Blaney was nervous as qualifying approached, but not because of the competition. If rain had washed out time trials, the Wood Brothers Racing car would not have made the field, based on fewest qualifying attempts this season—a product of a limited schedule. "It was funny the way it played out," Blaney said. "It looked like two cells coming at us (on the radar), and a small slit in the middle of them, and we passed right through that slit. That was just kind of lucky for us. "Like I said, it would have stung knowing how good of a car we had in practice if qualifying rained out. We're fortunate to get it in, and it's a bonus to have a good race car." Brendan Gaughan , who unlike Blaney would have benefited from a rainout, failed to make the 43-car field.
Erik Jones will start alongside Kahne in the front row for tonight's event Related: Full qualifying results Making his 2015 Camping World Truck Series debut, Kasey Kahne earned his first career Truck Series Keystone Light Pole Award of the season on Friday night Charlotte Motor Speedway . Turning his No. 00 JR Motorsports Chevrolet at 181.342 mph around the 1.5-mile oval, Kahne -- who led Thursday's opening practice -- will start from the top position later tonight in the NC Education Lottery 200 (8:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). Kyle Busch Motorsports' Erik Jones will start alongside Kahne in the front row, propelling his No. 4 ride at 181.008 mph to claim the second position on the leaderboard. Jones also led Thursday's final practice at Charlotte. Rounding out the top five for tonight's 200-mile event are Jones' KBM teammate Matt Tifft (180.511 mph), BK Racing owner and Sprint Cup veteran Brad Keselowski (180.499 mph) and NTS Motorsports' Daniel Hemric (180.270 mph), respectively. Reigning series champion Matt Crafton advanced to the final round of qualifying and will roll off the grid ninth in his No. 88 ThorSport Toyota. During the second round of qualifying, Kyle Busch Motorsports' Justin Boston spun off Turn 4, bringing out the first caution during the three rounds. The No. 54 driver will start 22nd in tonight's NC Education Lottery 200 . The second round saw a bit of chaos in its final minutes, as several drivers failed to complete a lap and GMS Racing's Spencer Gallagher spun off Turn 4. Gallagher will roll off the grid 18th tonight. Ryan Ellis , Todd Peck and Brandon Brown failed to qualify for tonight's NC Education Lottery 200 . FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Jeb Burton, Kasey Kahne both had hard hits over weekend A separate pair of incidents at Pocono Raceway has led to plans to alter the facility's pit road wall after two drivers wrecked into it over the weekend, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O'Donnell told NASCAR.com on Monday. Jeb Burton (final practice) and Kasey Kahne (Sunday's race) both got loose off Turn 3 in separate incidents, lost control of their respective vehicles and wrecked into the inside wall on pit row. Kahne's incident on Sunday knocked him out of the race, and it was almost identical to Burton's wreck -- the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet essentially followed the same tire marks that Burton had put down. "First, it's important to look at what happened in Pocono," O'Donnell said. "Certainly it was unique with Jeb Burton , and then you saw Kasey Kahne really unbelievably follow him with same tire tracks during the event. Tom Gideon, our safety expert, was already up at Pocono drawing up some plans to look at extending the pit wall. "With that comes some challenges. We have to make sure the drivers coming out of Turn 3 during the race, that it's a safe situation by extending the wall. We'll work with the race track. We've got to explore the angles, look at all the data we have from the race cars as well and kind of combine all that. The initial plan is ... we'll plan to extend the wall at Pocono. And certainly from there, to take a look at each one of our venues." President and CEO of Pocono Raceway, Brandon Igdalsky, also commented on the safety procedures that came into question during the Windows 10 400 . “Our commitment to driver safety is paramount,” said Igdalsky. "We have made multiple upgrades and updates to our facility, with more safety improvements rolling out before the 2016 NASCAR season. We work hand-in-hand with NASCAR throughout the year to execute and implement these changes. "Once NASCAR collects the data, as it pertains to the unique incidents involving Jeb Burton and Kasey Kahne from this past weekend, we will communicate with one another and develop the safest solution.” O'Donnell also tackled the question of whether or not the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series would race at Iowa Speedway. Saturday night's NASCAR XFINITY Series event at the Rusty Wallace-designed .875-mile oval produced plenty of good racing, a thrilling conclusion ... and some drama, as well. "Well, I think when you look at our Cup schedule right now, there's no secret that it's full," O'Donnell said. "One of the things that's unique about Iowa that we like is the ability for the XFINITY Series to go there and be the showcase event. I believe that's why you're talking about it today, seeing Ryan Blaney hold off a number of hungry competitors on a couple of green-white-checkered (finishes), really doing his job to win that event. "We like the fact the XFINITY Series can be the showcase event. It deserves that. Iowa is a unique venue and it produces some great racing for us … and we like what we're seeing there."
Complete news and notes on all 43 cars in the Windows 10 400 RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid Breaking down how the full 43-car field fared at Pocono Raceway. 1. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Kenseth was 16 seconds behind leader Kyle Busch in the closing laps, but the driver of the No. 20 saved enough fuel to pass his teammate and coast to his first Pocono win. 2. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . "Sorry about that, guys. Everybody OK?" Keselowski asked his team after he locked up his brakes, slid through his pit box and hit two crew members during his Lap 58 green-flag stop. He rallied to score his fifth top five of the year. 3. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon matched his best 2015 finish when his Pocono finale became a fuel-mileage race and he climbed from 16th. 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt and his team battled through a variety of issues -- a pit road penalty and mid-race spin among them -- to be in the right place and climb from 17th to fourth in the final 10 laps as the leaders ran out of fuel. 5. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Biffle recorded his second top-five of the year thanks to -- you guessed it -- fuel mileage. He also led Laps 125-126 during green-flag stops and kept working with his team to find grip. 6. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Johnson was forced to pit for fuel with three laps to go and climbed through the field to earn his 14th top-10 as competitors faded. 7. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . A missed shift triggered a vibration for Allmendinger, who worked through the issue to score his third top-10 of the year. 8. Clint Bowyer , No. 15, Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer started saving fuel while running 11th with 18 laps to go. 9. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . It was a solid day for Stewart, who started fifth before recording just his second top-10 this season. 10. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards was running ninth in the closing laps when he hit pit road for a quick splash of fuel. 11. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard spent the majority of Sunday’s race running inside the top 15 and saved one lap of fuel to make it to the end. 12. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . Fuel mileage wasn’t on Larson’s side, but he was still pleased with the effort and later tweeted, "Best car we’ve had all year though and pit crew did an awesome job all day." 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . With crew chief Slugger Labbe at the helm, Dillon posted his best Pocono result. 14. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill ran as high as second en route to his best career Pocono showing. 15. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray said Pocono was slicker this weekend than it was in June and he spent the race chasing the handling of his car. 16. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick had a mid-race scare when a piece of trash adhered itself to her car’s grille and caused her temperatures to spike. 17. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan improved to run 10th, but ran out of fuel in the final laps and coasted across the finish line. 18. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola reported a throttle issue during the first half of Sunday’s race, but appeared to have the right amount of fuel to make it to the end. 19. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Truex was running second in the final laps and had to hit pit road for a quick splash to finish the race. A pit road speeding penalty incurred during the stop damaged his forward progress. 20. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano led a race-high 97 laps and was cruising toward his second win of the year when his car ran out of fuel with three laps to go. He then picked up a speeding penalty while refueling. 21. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The pole sitter focused on fuel conservation and took over the race lead briefly before sputtering out himself with two laps to go. 22. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Hamlin focused on crisp shifts as he nursed a gearbox issue and maintained his position inside the top 10 until he also ran out of fuel. 23. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Newman was running 16th when he ran out of fuel in the closing laps. 24. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Allgaier was having a solid day, running inside the top 15, when he pitted just prior to the Lap 92 caution flag and lost track position. 25. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman improved upon his best Pocono outing after a solid effort on Sunday. 26. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett’s car started tight and then snapped to loose as Sunday’s race unfolded. 27. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Whitt struggled to find consistency in his car and sustained damage while running in the pack. 28. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears restarted 13th after picking up eight spots on pit road during the final caution. Subsequently, he reported that his car was plowing through the corners. 29. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto stayed out of trouble to post his best Pocono finish. 30. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley was awarded the Lucky Dog pass on the seventh caution period, but struggled to capture any momentum. 31. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . On Lap 27, Moffitt made contact with teammate David Gilliland and sustained a significant tire rub. 32. Travis Kvapil , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing. Kvapil held steady to improve upon his most recent Pocono performance. 33. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . During late-race green-flag stops, Gilliland’s team tried to get the front end of the car down after earlier contact elevated his splitter. 34. Reed Sorenson , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Sorenson was the Lucky Dog three times in a row, but struggled to find a rhythm and stay on the lead lap. 35. Jeb Burton , No. 26 Toyota, BK Racing . "They’re lucky no one was pitting that time," Burton radioed his team after Kahne ’s early-race crash on pit road brought out the red flag. "They’ve gotten lucky twice. Something needs to change." Burton was in a similar incident during Saturday’s final practice session. 36. Timmy Hill , No. 62 Chevrolet, Premium Motorsports. Hill recorded his best 2015 result in his third Cup event. 37. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Busch was inadvertently turned by Paul Menard in Turn 1 and then nailed by Sam Hornish Jr . 38. Alex Kennedy , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport . Kennedy spun on Lap 92 to bring out the eighth caution flag. 39. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish missed a shift early in the race, which caused a world of hurt for him and others navigating the Tricky Triangle. 40. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne’s best Pocono start was stalled just past the midway point when a wayward tail pipe went through the radiator of his car. 41. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenouse braked hard but couldn’t avoid crashing into the back of a slowing Sam Hornish Jr . in Turn 1 on Lap 28. 42. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . The outside pole sitter opted to stay on track during the competition caution and blew up after leading the field to green on Lap 17. 43. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Kahne got loose on Lap 5 coming off Turn 3 and slammed into the pit road wall, sending helmets flying and pit crew personnel scurrying. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kahne also picks up new primary sponsor for three races in 2015 RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today MORE: Rodden to step in as No. 5 crew chief Hendrick Motorsports announced Thursday morning that it has signed driver Kasey Kahne to a three-year contract extension, keeping him in the fold through 2018 . "I've found a home at Hendrick Motorsports," said Kahne in a team release. "We have incredible people and partners supporting us, and I couldn’t be more excited about the direction we're headed as a team and a company. It's the right place for me, and I'm looking forward to being here for a long time." The news comes one day after a major shakeup with Hendrick's No. 5 Chevrolet team in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, with Keith Rodden accepting a crew chief role and Kenny Francis, atop Kahne's pit box since the 2005 season finale, shifting to the position of vehicle technical director. Kahne , an 11-year veteran and 17-time winner in NASCAR's premier series, and Francis joined the Hendrick organization in 2012. "It's extremely gratifying to work with a driver like Kasey ," said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports said in a team release. "I think the world of him both as a driver with championship-level talent and an overall terrific young man. Our whole organization has a great deal of respect for how hard he works, the professionalism he displays with our partners and the way he carries himself every day. We're committed to winning races and competing for titles with him for many years to come." In addition, Kahne will have LiftMaster on board as a primary sponsor for three races in the 2015 Sprint Cup season as well as an associate sponsor for the rest of the races. The agreement will be for the next three seasons (2015 to 2017). LiftMaster will be the primary sponsor for Kahne on May 24 (Charlotte), July 11 (Kentucky) and October 18 (Kansas). "It means a lot to have support from a great company like LiftMaster," Kahne said in a release. "The No. 5 team has high expectations for 2015, and they'll be with us as the primary sponsor at three tracks where we're traditionally very fast. All of us are looking forward to representing them throughout the season and developing a successful long-term relationship." We’re excited to join @KaseyKahne & @TeamHendrick starting in 2015! http://t.co/kZJdDPiroS pic.twitter.com/2aP8Oy7CJr — LiftMaster (@LiftMaster) November 20, 2014 The 34-year-old driver has won five times in Hendrick equipment and notched his best-ever finish in the season standings -- fourth -- in his first year with the team. Last season was a struggle, however, with Kahne posting just three top-five finishes and winding up 15th in the final standings. Kahne qualified for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs with a Labor Day weekend victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the next-to-last race of the regular season. Kahne survived the first round of eliminations in the new-look Chase, but was ousted in the Contender Round, the second three-race leg of the postseason. Kahne agreed to join Hendrick in April 2010, replacing veteran driver Mark Martin . After signing the multiyear agreement, Kahne finished out most of the season in Richard Petty Motorsports' Fords, then spent the last five races of 2010 and all of 2011 driving Red Bull Racing's Toyotas before finally landing in the No. 5 Chevy. Re-signing Kahne , whose contract was set to expire after the 2015 season, helps solidify the Hendrick driver lineup. Team cornerstone Jeff Gordon , a four-time series champion, signed a lifetime contract with Hendrick in 1999. Six-time champion Jimmie Johnson is also under contract through 2015, and Dale Earnhardt Jr ., the sport's most popular driver, is signed through 2017. With Hendrick at the NASCAR-mandated maximum of four teams and the unlikelihood of Johnson departing after 2015, speculation will likely rise about the future of 18-year-old prodigy Chase Elliott , the reigning NASCAR Nationwide Series champion who is under contract to Hendrick and drives for the affiliated JR Motorsports team with co-owner Earnhardt. Team owner Rick Hendrick said Nov. 8 after Elliott became the series' youngest champion that the young driver's career arc will likely include a handful of Sprint Cup races next season, but that there is no accelerated timetable to place him in NASCAR's premier series on a full-time basis. Elliott will return next year to defend his title in what will be known as the NASCAR XFINITY Series, driving JRM equipment. "Another year of seasoning here will be good for him, and we're not in any hurry," Hendrick said. "He's 18 years old." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Hendrick Motorsports driver talks offseason plans, 2015 goals RELATED: Subscribe to NASCAR Illustrated Kasey Kahne had an up-and-down 2014. The 34-year-old driver won for a third consecutive year at Hendrick Motorsports , notching the victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the penultimate race of NASCAR's regular season. That late win vaulted the No. 5 team into the Chase and ensured that all four of Hendrick's teams were in it. But Kahne and longtime crew chief Kenny Francis didn't consistently flash the speed that their fans have been accustomed to seeing. The rumor mill began churning with talk of Keith Rodden possibly leaving Chip Ganassi Racing and returning to HMS next year to lead Kahne's team. That move was confirmed shortly after Homestead, as was a new three-year-deal for Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports . NASCAR ILLUSTRATED: What do you have planned for the offseason, anything you're particularly looking forward to? KASEY KAHNE : I'm excited mainly just to have a little break. I need a break away from racing. Looking forward to going home for a few days back to Washington in Enumclaw, hitting a Seahawks game and then heading to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for a week to ski, snowmobile and shop. I'm looking forward to that. NI: Your Atlanta win was the high point of the season. How would you describe the relief of getting into the Chase? KAHNE : It was definitely a highlight as a team and stepping up and working together. Getting a win that night was really nice for us, nice to make the Chase and get in. But I think the win meant more than anything just to show that we're capable if we do things right. When we do things right, we're still capable and we have a lot to look forward to in the future. NI: What are your thoughts on the new Chase format now that you've been through it? KAHNE : It's been really interesting and I personally like it because both winning and consistent teams will advance. In each round, both have advanced, so to me it's kind of like the points system but it's also like a playoff. So I like that. And it's also put more pressure on the teams and drivers every single race, which has created more drama. The fighting, the running into each other, I think it's really made it more intense. It's actually been pretty damn exciting. NI: You and Russell Wilson raised $220,000 in two days during "The Drive" this summer. What does the future look like for the event? KAHNE : Russell's excited and I'm excited about our first tournament together and the first time we worked together on charity. We're gonna do it again next year and try to make it an annual deal. The golf tournament was great and the course and the people involved. We expect to grow it and want to work and make sure it's bigger and better each year. RELATED: Kahne , Super Bowl MVP team up for 'The Drive' NI: What specific areas of your team's performance need to be better in 2015? KAHNE : Really the first thing I look at is speed in practice, qualifying, race. We don't have those fast laps like we've always had in the past. We have to look at that; I have to look at that, we have to look at that as a team. Our pit stops have to be better. You can't lose spots every time off pit road and expect to do well in this series. It's way too competitive. I think both of those things and just the communication and working together, normal things that you have to have as a team. I just think we all need to get a little better at that. I think it will all take care of itself once we get the speed back, once we know we’re putting up fast laps whenever we're on the track. SUBSCRIBE NOW!