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NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 2016 Recap/2017 Outlook — Kasey Kahne

For a second consecutive season, Kasey Kahne didn’t win a race and failed to make the Chase. He’s been the weak link of Hendrick Motorsports the last two years, and he will look to end his 83-race winless streak in 2017.

Car No.: 5

Crew Chief: Keith Rodden

Team: Hendrick Motorsports

Wins: 0

Top-Fives: 3

Top-10s: 13

Points Finish: 17th

2016 Quick Summary: In his first four years with HMS, Kahne won five races. But 2015 was among one of the worst years of his NASCAR career after posting only 10 top 10s and three top fives.

Kahne looked to improve this season, but it really wasn’t different. For the first time in his career, he didn’t lead a lap throughout an entire 36-race schedule. However, he showed signs of rejuvenation by scoring seven top 10s in the final 12 races of 2016.

2016 Highlight(s): Kahne’s best result came at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October, where he finished third. This race was one of the 10 Chase races and Charlotte has been a good place for the 36-year-old, who has four career victories at the track. It was also in the midst of his rejuvenation, as mentioned above.

2016 Lowlight(s): The Enumclaw, Wash. native didn’t really have one particular race that was dreadful, although he did have one minor run-in with Danica Patrick at Auto Club Speedway. The entire season was generally uneventful, and it was easy to forget he was even on the track at times.

Kahne was hidden behind the storylines created by his HMS teammates throughout the season, such as Chase Elliott’s rookie success in the No. 24, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s concussion, Jeff Gordon and Alex Bowman replacing Earnhardt for half the season, and Jimmie Johnson’s seventh championship.

The No. 5 was virtually invisible all year.

2017 Outlook: The last win Kahne had was at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014. He’s long overdue, so he needs to visit Victory Lane and put his career back on track.

So what must he do to win again?

Continue to build on the momentum from the end of 2016. It helps to lead laps as well. He completed the most laps of any driver this season, but it won’t serve him too well if he isn’t in first place for any of them. Kahne is under contract with HMS through 2018, so he doesn’t need to press the panic button, yet.

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By John Haverlin

John Haverlin is currently studying Communication at Arizona State University. He has been a reporter at Phoenix International Raceway for three years and has written news stories for the track's official site. Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Haverlin has lived in Arizona the past three years.