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Jun 14, 2014 - 02:36 PM
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2014 Saturday Michigan NASCAR Notebook: Kahne And Farmers Insurance Reach New Agreement
Posted by: ASkyler on Jun 14, 2014 - 02:36 PM
Feature Articles
2014 Saturday Michigan NASCAR Notebook: Kahne And Farmers Insurance Reach New Agreement


Scott Held, NASCAR Wire Service

BROOKLYN, Michigan - It’s been a bumpy ride this season for Kasey Kahne but he arrived at Michigan International Speedway on a high note. Farmers Insurance announced it was extending its commitment as Kahne’s No. 5 Chevy’s primary sponsor through the 2017 Sprint Cup season.

"It’s really good news," he said. "We’ve done a lot with them and really enjoyed working with them over the years.

"They’re such a big part of helping us race each weekend. I’m excited about that."

He’ll be even more excited with a strong finish in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400.

Kahne has just four top-10 finishes in the season’s first 14 races and has been 30th or worse as many times. He began this race weekend 21st in the Sprint Cup standings and sorely needs a win as the weeks dwindle toward the Chase.

The new contract with Farmers lasts two years longer than Kahne’s pact with Hendrick Motorsports. He said there’s been no discussion about his future with the team, but made it clear he’d like to stay.

"I like being at HMS," Kahne said. "It’s a wonderful place.

 

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"I get information from three of the best drivers in racing. I’ve enjoyed every bit of it."

His teammates - Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson - all qualified in the first four rows for Sunday’s race.

Kahne will start 13th as he seeks his first win since Aug. 4, 2013 at Pocono.

"Where we are right now as a team, we just need to show up and put full weekends together," he said. "We just need to step up."

Last run

The cars at the front of the starting grid remained the fastest in Saturday’s final two Sprint Cup practice periods but Rookie Kyle Larson was fastest in the final session, in which teams run the closest approximations to their race setups.

Larson, who’ll start 12th on Sunday, went 198.424 mph on his first lap of the final run.

"I felt like we made really big gains in our Target Chevy throughout the weekend," he said. "Yesterday in practice I didn’t think we were good at all."

Gordon, pole sitter Kevin Harvick and Johnson _ all of whom will start in the top seven _ also topped 198 mph in the final practice run.

The skies were mostly sunny with temperatures in the mid-70s during the final run, but the forecast is calling for a high of 80 by the time the green flag waves Sunday. Larson said he’s not sure what to expect.

"I don’t know how this track changes with the temperatures," he said. "I’ve only run here once since it was repaved."

Harvick, who set a new track record Friday in qualifying, was the only driver to top 202 mph in Saturday’s early session. As he predicted, speeds slowed as cars began running in traffic later in the day.

Hometown redemption?

A late-race attempt to remove a piece of trash from his grille likely cost Brad Keselowski a victory last weekend at Pocono, but the series’ next stop offers a great opportunity to make up for it.

Keselowski hails from Rochester Hills in suburban Detroit, about 70 miles from the track.

He’s also coming off two straight runner-up finishes and he and teammate Joey Logano both are firmly on the right side of the series standings.

"It’s really good for Roger," Keselowski said. "To see him be excited to have two cars that are considered legitimate front runners week in, week out.

"I think he’d tell you he’s having the most fun at the NASCAR level."

Penske’s IndyCar drivers swept the Detroit Grand Prix earlier this month thanks to Will Power and Helio Castroneves and a victory here would make him 3-for-3 in the state as a car owner.

Why not the No. 2 Ford?

"I think we’re really rolling here the last few weeks and running strong and in position to win races," Keselowski said. "Hopefully we can stack up a few more wins and establish ourselves as a team that’s ready to win another championship.

"We’re on a bit of a confidence spree and really feeling good about things."

Salutes

Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy will carry a decal on its C pillar Sunday honoring the memory of the late Junie Donlovey, who died June 9 at 90.

Donlovey first fielded a team in 1950 and entered cars in NASCAR series races until 2002. Three of his drivers were rookies of the year in his familiar No. 90 car.

Greg Biffle, winner of last season’s June race here and two of the last three stops at MIS, carried a camouflage pattern on his No. 16 Ford this weekend to support the Disabled American Veterans, which assists and advocates for injured servicemen and -women after they end their military obligations.


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