Car number: 9 • Manufacturer: Dodge • Sponsor: Dodge Dealers
Owner: Ray Evernham
• Team: Evernham Motorsports
• Crew Chief: Kenny Francis
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
2007 Spin This Ray Evernham-led team was the group that finally figured out the Dodge Charger's aerodynamic subtleties. The difference in Kasey Kahne's downforce-track results and those of other Dodge teams was a stark contrast. Kahne ranked fourth in points earned on the intermediates and nailed six wins. The next-closest Dodge pilot was Casey Mears, who ranked 13th. The only other Dodge team to even record a win was the Miller Lite crew, and that came at Bristol, where aero does not come into play.
Because the COT will only run at three intermediate venues in '07, it is likely that Kahne will once again be the man to beat on the 1.5- and two-milers. And since the intermediates comprise 17 of the series' 36 points-paying events, Kahne will ride the superior engineering into the Chase.
His maturation as a Nextel Cup driver is coming along. The kid obviously has a knack for driving a racecar. However, most of the accidents he experienced last season were due to mental errors. The wrecks at Indy and Watkins Glen were cases where the driver was pushing too hard. The Atlanta miscue was just a total loss of focus. With three straight top 7s to his credit entering that event, Kahne had momentum on his side until he inexplicably turned right entering the turn, collecting David Stremme in the process. The good news is that these types of mistakes can be corrected. His knowledge and on-track discipline will continue to grow with experience.
The COT may be a hindrance to Kahne. Teammate Elliott Sadler will be his best ally in mastering this new beast, so don't expect too much from Kahne away from the cookie cutters. He will make the Chase, though expectations should be tempered once the playoffs begin.
2006 Recap "You have to lose a championship before you can win one." Those were the words we heard applied to Jimmie Johnson and his 2006 title run, and they will no doubt be uttered when Kasey Kahne eventually breaks through for his title. And make no mistake, this is a team that could have won the thing.
Kahne excelled on the intermediate venues, registering six wins, nine top 5s and leading 734 laps. He came out of the gate fast, with four victories in the first 15 races; however, a mid-summer slump nearly cost him a berth in the Chase.
In consecutive weeks - at Indy and the Glen - while running in the top 10, Kahne was involved in last-lap crashes that knocked him well back in the finishing order. Both incidents were mental errors of his own doing.
Kahne did rebound and earned that Chase bid, but an accident (that wasn't his fault) knocked him out early at Dover, permanently crippling his shot at a title. He did score a win and five top 10s in the Chase, but consider this the year he lost his championship. Next time he may not.
• The Good: Kasey Kahne led the circuit with six wins, thanks in part to his team's ability to figure out the aerodynamic issues that were hindering the Charger.
• The Bad: Kahne had a winning car at Atlanta but suffered a brain cramp, turning right into David Stremme, finishing 38th. It was one of many mental mistakes that cost the team a title.
• The Ugly: Racing Tony Stewart for eighth on the last lap at Indy, Kahne overdrove his piece and nearly knocked down the wall. He could have settled for ninth and the points. Instead he put his Chase hopes in jeopardy.