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Past Fantasy Outlooks
After six seasons of racing in the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne found himself heading into the free agent driver pool at the end of last season. Steady performance erosion over the last few seasons has seen the veteran driver go from winning races and earning Chase berths, to struggling to be competitive on a weekly basis. Although Kahne pulled out a Hail Mary victory at the Brickyard last season, he struggled to post a career-low six Top-10 finishes. His average finish for the campaign ballooned to a 10-season low of 19.4, and his average qualifying position of 17.9 was a career worst mark. He will now pilot the No. 95 Chevrolet of Leavine Family Racing. This small single-car team has worked hard with prior driver, Michael McDowell, to go from part-time to full-time competition in NASCAR's top division. While Kahne is an upgrade over McDowell, his ability to earn Top 10's with this team will be severely challenged. The veteran driver is entering the declining stages of his NASCAR career, and that should be remembered on fantasy racing draft day.
After spending much of last season mired in a slump, the No. 5 Chevrolet team sprang to life in the final third of the season and were one of the more consistent and competitive teams of the stretch run of the season. Kahne posted five Top-10 finishes during the Chase, although he was not a part of the championship playoff. This has been the norm for the 13-year veteran. Partial seasons of high performance coupled with long stretches of struggles have led to finishes of 15th-, 18th- and 17th-place in the driver standings each of the last three years. This is far below what this driver, team and owner expect. 2017 will be a make or break year for Kahne and his future at Hendrick Motorsports. He would like to get back to winning and getting berths in the Chase. Kahne and crew chief Keith Rodden are under the gun for improvement and the clock is ticking.
In a lot of ways the last two seasons have been very disappointing for Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports race team. The veteran driver has only won one event the last two years and he missed the Chase for the Cup field in 2015. The drop in performance is almost unexplainable. We expect the driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet to make some gains in 2016, but not all at once. He will be once again paired with crew chief, Keith Rodden, and they will need some time to correct the performance issues they've battled the last year. Considering that Hendrick Motorsports star Jeff Gordon retired at the end of 2015, there will be more pressure on Kahne to lift his level of performance to the numbers of a couple seasons ago. We wouldn't rule out a two-win, 16 top 10 campaign.
The first season with Hendrick Motorsports is now under Kahne’s belt and it was a rousing success. He piloted the No. 5 Chevrolet to two victories, 19 Top-10 finishes and a career-best fourth-place finish in the final driver standings. The nine-year veteran may just be getting started and even more success could be in store. Kahne and long-time crew chief Kenny Francis have one of the longest running driver/crew chief relationships currently running in the sport. The duo has combined to win 13 races, 20 pole positions and 99 Top 10’s since the 2006 season. The combination of this solid relationship and top notch Hendrick Motorsports equipment should keep paying dividends in 2013.
Khane suffered a poor second season in Nextel Cup in 2005. However, he did collect his first series win and shows some signs of ability despite the equipment problems. If Dodge can get their house in order in 2006, Kahne could do some big things.
More Fantasy News
Ends NASCAR Career
Not Cleared for Dover
Kahne will continue to sit out from Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series competition this coming weekend when the series travels to Dover International Speedway. Kahne participated in a private medical test session on Tuesday afternoon with his physicians as they continue to evaluate his health following a case of extreme heat exhaustion at Darlington Raceway, Leavine Family Racing PR reports.
Insists on returning this season
Pulls out of Brickyard 400