In Kasey Kahne’s NASCAR career, he’s accumulated 24 victories and 123 top-five finishes.
However, very little of that success has come at Watkins Glen International Speedway.
Kahne has raced in New York’s only NASCAR event 14 times, 10 with the Sprint Cup series and four with the Nationwide series.
He’s never won at the track and has finished in the top five just once, in 2006 when he finished fourth in a Nationwide series event. Kahne has averaged between an 18th- and 19th-place finish in his Sprint Cup races at the track.
He’ll be looking to use his experience and knowledge of the track to reverse that trend and begin to work his way back into “Chase” contention when he competes in the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on Aug. 10.
“I’ve never had a win up here,” Kahne said at a visit to the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant. Watkins Glen “is a tough track. We’ve had a little trouble there in the past. We usually run about 10th to 17th so we’re trying to figure out how to do better.
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to turn everything around because we’re still close to making the Chase.”
More specifically, Kahne has struggled with the dimensions of the track and hasn’t taken opportunities to make moves when they have come.
“It’s just a couple of the corners. I just slow myself down on them,” Kahne said. “I’ve had some rough qualifiers there in the last few years. I need to pick that up a bit and be a little bit more aggressive.”
Kahne has suffered through an inauspicious 2014 campaign so far. In the Sprint Cup series, where he primarily focuses his attention, he has no wins and just two top-five finishes.
He currently sits in 17th place in Sprint Cup series standings but isn’t out of contention. This year NASCAR expanded its “Chase” for the Sprint Cup Series Title field to 16 competitors.
While Kahne hasn’t had much success at Watkins Glen in the past, he’s won at the other six of the next seven tracks remaining on the schedule.
He’s looking at the Cheez It 355 as a way to jump-start a late-season push into a favorable “Chase” position.
“We have an opportunity to win in all of them,” Kahne said. “But if we perform well in all of them and finish in the top five to 10, we could still make (the Chase) by points as well.”
“You have to be consistent. Show speed every week. If we get an opportunity to win, we need to jump on it.”
Kahne was on hand Wednesday when the General Motors Foundation donated $60,000 to various local charity organizations. After a ceremony and a meet-and-greet, he was taken on a tour of the GM Tonawanda Engine Plant – an aspect of the automobile business he had never experienced before.
“I was really impressed with the processes, how much they get done and how perfect every part and every piece has to be,” Kahne said. “I wish I could spend more time and learn more about it.”