BUSCH: Kentucky: Kasey Kahne - NASCAR spotlight

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 10, 2003) -- Sliding through the corners at high speeds, rather than figuring out how to hit a slider, now appeals to Kasey Kahne. Serious about baseball until age 14, Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Ford) instead gave in to...

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 10, 2003) -- Sliding through the corners at high speeds, rather than figuring out how to hit a slider, now appeals to Kasey Kahne.

Serious about baseball until age 14, Kahne (No. 38 Great Clips Ford) instead gave in to the lure of racing after watching his dad work on and sponsor a Sprint Car. It didn't take long until Kahne chucked his bat and ball to get behind the wheel.

Given his success on the track, he made the right choice.

Re-tracing the steps of drivers like NASCAR Winston Cup champions Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart, who also starred in USAC Midgets, Kahne began with Micro-Midgets, then moved up to Mini-Sprints. He graduated to Sprint Cars in 1997, then came full circle by winning the 2000 USAC Midget championship by the largest point margin in 12 years. He was also named USAC Silver Bullet Series Rookie of the Year and USAC Midget Driver of the Year.

Last year, Kahne made the move to the NASCAR Busch Series, driving for the formidable Robert Yates Racing team. When Yates decided to concentrate on his NASCAR Winston Cup program following the 2002 season, Kahne signed with Akins Motorsports. The one-year difference in experience has been quite noticeable. Kahne ranks 11th in the NASCAR Busch Series point standings with one top-five and six top-10 finishes heading into Saturday's Meijer 300 presented by Oreo at Kentucky Speedway. In contrast, he posted just one top-10 finish in 20 starts last season.

"I'm not surprised at our success thus far, but I think we can still do much better because we're still learning together as a team; we are still gelling as a team," said Kahne. "One thing that we're really noticing a difference in is how important test sessions are. The more we can test, the better we are. It teaches us more about the cars and the experience helps my driving.

"[This] will be my first time actually competing at Kentucky other than the test, and I can't wait. We were real happy with our test results, so I'm looking forward to getting out there with other drivers to see how good our car is."

The native of Enumclaw, Wash., has also taken a keen interest in recent racing history, particularly the early stages of the careers of Stewart and Gordon. "It definitely gives me confidence to see their [past] success," he said. "I think they learned their skills through the same open-wheel ranks [as me]."

Even though he's competing in his first full NASCAR Busch Series season, Kahne likes to get back to his roots and continues to race every chance he gets. "I would rather race every night of the week," he said.

"It keeps me happy."

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR XFINITY
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kasey Kahne , Robert Yates
Teams Yates Racing