Dec 10, 2013, 1:00 PM EDT
After talking about the big stories and ranking our Top 10 drivers from the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, my colleague Tony DiZinno and I are taking a look back on how each of the 13 Chase for the Sprint Cup contenders fared this past year.
Collecting two wins this season but finishing 12th in the championship was Kasey Kahne…
No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet
2013 Stats: 12th Place, Two Wins, 11 Top-5s, 14 Top-10s, 677 Laps Led
Average Start: 11.6
Average Finish: 16.2
Estrada Says: After rising as high as second in the championship early – a rise that was partially fueled by his spring Bristol win, the first of his two in 2013 – Kahne was unable to sustain his momentum and fell into the tooth-and-nail battle between multiple drivers for the final Chase spots. Fortunately for him, he was able to add more post-season insurance in August with a triumph at Pocono. But when it came time to race for a championship, Kahne quickly dropped off the radar following a crash and 37th-place finish at New Hampshire. He still had his moments in the Chase though, with a runner-up at Charlotte and Top-5s at Texas and Phoenix. But overall, his lack of consistency ultimately cancelled out his strong pace in 2013.
DiZinno Says: Arguably the least consistent of Hendrick Motorsports’ quartet in 2013, even if he had higher peaks at times. Kahne and the No. 5 team were rarely able to find the rhythm and avoid prolonged droughts of either bad luck or bad results, or in some instances, both. Kahne has the potential to be a champion but he’s already completed 10 years in the sport, never at a dominant level like any of his three Hendrick teammates have achieved at any point in their careers. You hope he hasn’t reached his career ceiling.