Kahne Eager For Sunday's Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Kasey Kahne favors Atlanta Motor Speedway and not just because it was the site of a sensational clutch win last Labor Day.
Kahne needed a victory in order to qualify for The Chase for the Sprint Cup and got it by grabbing the lead with two laps left. He was 14th with 60 laps to go after bouncing from front to back several times.
"It was a really interesting race for us," Kahne said. "We had speed at times and then we would lose it real bad. Then the final two restarts were really key for us.
"We were just able to get good restarts, good drive up through the gears and get by (Matt) Kenseth getting into Turn 3. We hit it right at the end when it counted."
It was Kahne's third win at the 1.5-mile oval. He also has two poles, seven top-five and nine top-10 finishes here.
"I really enjoy racing at this place, just with the surface and the speeds," Kahne said. "The track is tough and you can move top to bottom.
"I feel like a lot of the drivers really enjoy Atlanta. I don't see how they couldn't. It's definitely one of my favorites, if not my favorite, since I came to the Cup Series."
Thursday's practice was a good learning day for the No. 5 Farmers Insurance Chevy SS and new crew chief Keith Rodden.
"Working with Keith has been great," Kahne said. "I think it can only get better as we go, but it started off basically where it ended when he was my engineer. We started working, I think the first time he was my engineer was 2004 in the XFINITY Series and we have kind of been on and off together ever since then.
"It felt really good at Daytona, the test and now this weekend."
Dawsonville's Chase Elliott shook his car down in Friday's first XFINITY practice session and put up the 12th fastest effort (179.813 mph) in a short two laps. In the final practice Friday, Elliott ran hard and ended up with the session's fifth fastest mark (180.375).
Elliott, who has raced at Atlanta Motor Speedway just once, found when he ran the line encouraged by crew chief Ernie Cope and hit his marks in all four turns, things were on point. But if he missed even one of the marks, it affected the rest of the lap.
"I learned a lot from (JRM teammate Kevin) Harvick during last year's race," Elliott said. "He runs such a solid line all the way around there. It's a fast, fast place and the track is worn a bit, so it certainly puts on a show for the fans."
Joey Logano had the fastest XFINITY early practice Friday (182.807) and the Dayton 500 winner followed that up with the top speed in the final session (182.105).
Brendan Gaughan was second in the final practice (180.857) and Paul Menard was third (180.463).
Kids 17 and under can get passes for autograph session with Sprint Cup Series drivers Clint Bowyer, Alex Bowman, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the Fan Zone. Wrist bands for the session will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis at the fan stage.
The session is at 10:30 a.m. in the Tara Ballroom at the AMS condominium building.
Another autograph session, available to all fans, with Camping World Truck Series drivers will be in the same location at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.