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Kahne set to defend Food City 500 crown

March 13th, 2014 6:37 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Kahne set to defend Food City 500 crown

As much as Kasey Kahne loves to win, he hates to lose even more.

While he still smiles about winning last year’s Food City 500, he can just as easily recall a number of races which got away.

“Sometimes, the crashes and the losses, the things that get you down can keep you down a lot longer than the momentum of a win,” said Kahne, driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. “Usually when I win races, Monday morning, I’m calling (crew chief) Kenny (Francis) and we’re talking about the upcoming weekend. Your mind switches that quick. 

“Now, you feel great all week and you’re happy and excited about what you did. But as a competitor by Monday morning, you’re talking about the upcoming week. That’s how you have to do it. That’s how racing is. It’s over quick and you have to move on quick.”

It was that way last year. 

After exiting his car in victory lane, he talked about the Food City 500 being one of the biggest wins, if not the biggest win of his career. One reason was he believed that Bristol is one of those tracks if you are a NASCAR driver, you need to win at it.

A day later, however, his focus had shifted to the next week.

“Bristol was a big win for us, and that was one that felt really good,” the 33-year-old driver recalled. “But, we had to turn around and get ready for California.”

The only thing different when you are a defending champion or ever a former winner of a race, there are reminders when you come back to race at that venue again.

Kahne, who followed up his Food City 500 win with a runner-up to Matt Kenseth in the IRWIN Tools Night Race last August, recalled what it was like to win at Bristol in his 19th attempt.

“It was pretty awesome to win a Cup race at Bristol,” he said. “We were close for a while and to finally pull it off last year was pretty neat. We were solid in both races last season so I look forward to going back there this weekend. I’m excited because it’s a track we can get some more wins at.”

The Enumclaw, Wash., native first must get through NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying, the first time it has been implemented at Bristol. While some have voiced concerns about the new format on a high-banked, half-mile track, Kahne looks forward to it.

“I feel like it’s going to be pretty exciting,” he said. “I like making qualifying laps and being on the edge, seeing what all you can get out of your car and yourself. To me, it’s something different, not what we all grew up doing. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out.”

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