Kahne latest Hendrick winner - NASCAR Notes by Lugnut

Kahne latest Hendrick winner as team roll continues

Updated: May 29, 2012 08:56 AM
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"
(Source: Chris Greythen/Getty Images) (Source: Chris Greythen/Getty Images)

AUGUSTA, GA (RNN) - For the third weekend in a row, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick sat in the media center telling how proud he was of his winning race team. The only difference this week is that he was bragging on Kasey Kahne.

Jimmie Johnson first represented the Hendrick organization in victory lane after notching the team's long-awaited 200th Cup Series win two weeks ago in Darlington. The following week in the All Star Race, Johnson again took his owner to the winner's circle. Last weekend in NASCAR's longest race, the Coca-Cola 600, it was new driver Kasey Kahne who captured his first win for Hendrick and continued the win streak.

Kahne joined Hendrick's organization with high expectations. Most, including Kahne, thought that the young driver would instantly win races. But luck hasn't looked kindly on the No. 5 team, which didn't get off to the hoped-for start.

Kahne explained why it took a while:

"I think the biggest thing for myself was just to figure out the cars, figure out how they drove. It's been a little bit different for me," Kahne said. "I never really doubted myself. I was upset at some of the things that may have happened. I made a huge mistake at Phoenix, hit the wall there. But other than that, we were solid, we were fast. It was just a matter of getting past those five weeks and moving on and putting some solid races together."

Kahne was in Darlington to help celebrate that 200th Cup Series win - but he knew he hadn't contributed to the landmark. But it might have motivated him.

"Well, I wasn't part of that because I hadn't won a race for Hendrick Motorsports. They brought me up because I was part of the team now," continued Kahne. "Being there Tuesday night and listening to the stories of all the drivers who had won, thinking about the history that lies at Hendrick Motorsports, how much Rick Hendrick, Linda have done for the sport, done for so many people, was pretty awesome."

Now, he can hold his head high and know that he finally put all the pieces together last Sunday night and added win No. 201 for his new car owner.

Kahne outlasted a late charge from Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch and a mistake on pit road by teammate Jimmie Johnson to claim his first win in a Hendrick car.

"It was unfortunate," said winning crew chief Kenny Francis about Johnson's troubles. "Without really knowing what happened, the fuel cans that we use now are touchy, difficult to get unplugged. They fit real precisely. I'm sure it was something they were trying to make sure the car was full, jack dropped, he took off, the fuel guy was trying to get that last half-gallon of fuel in it - it didn't work out."

Second-place finisher Kyle Busch couldn't keep pace with Kahne at the end, but knew how big the win was for Kahne.

"It's awesome that it came in this race," said Busch. "The Coca-Cola 600 is such a cool race. Rick has won this race plenty of times, he has plenty of rings, doesn't need any more. It's cool that Kasey was able to do a nice job for him."

With three consecutive wins in their pocket, the Hendrick Motorsport teams are on quite a roll, which can mean trouble for the rest of the field.

"It's been an unbelievable week for us to get the 200th win at Darlington, then to come back and win the All-Star Race," said Hendrick. "I think we're showing the potential of the teams. I'm really looking forward to the second half of the year."

Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are the only Hendrick drivers that don't have a win this season, but if what Mr. H says is true, it won't be long before we see them in victory lane.

The question is: which team will manage to stop their win streak?

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