Speedweeks has a way of getting every NASCAR fan's blood pumping just a little bit faster.
With a day full of Daytona 500 qualifying, the ARCA race, and the Bud Shootout, race fans can’t help but get excited that the 2010 season is almost upon us. I am one of those race fans and I would like to jump into the “let’s make 2010 predictions” column pool.
Speaking of Budweiser, Kasey Kahne and the members of the 9 crew must be incredibly excited about how the Bud Shootout has started off their season with their second place finish in the non-points event.
The 9 car, which over the off-season was part of the Richard Petty Motorsports and Yates Racing merger, changing the team from a four-car Dodge driven team to a four-car Ford powered team, ran strong throughout the entire race despite starting 19th.
Early in the race, when Kahne was bumper to bumper with Carl Edwards, Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip seemingly couldn’t help themselves by pointing out their correct prediction that the nine and 99 would draft well together and become a powerful alliance.
Granted, at that point Edwards had lead every lap run and Kahne had moved up 17 spots.
Still, the point stands that the Bud car has some good mojo going for it.
Not to mention the Ford R9 engine under the hood.
Add in that Kahne was tops in the second practice run for the 500 and Kahne is currently loving being in Daytona Beach.
It has been well publicized over the off-season that Kahne’s contract with RPM ends at the end of the year and speculations have been made about which team Kahne will be running for next year.
However, I believe that the Bud Shootout is only the start of what will be a successful year for Kahne.
Despite the uncertainty at RPM last year, Kahne still made the Chase, and at the re-alignment once the Chase started, was fifth in the standings.
Granted, he blew his engine in the next year, all but destroying his chances, but being fifth when the Chase starts is no small feat, especially with the turmoil going on at that time.
Kahne has proven that he can separate himself from the distractions surrounding his team, just as he did last year.
Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis have owned the mile and a half speedways in the past, and for their success this season, must continue this trend.
I predict that Kahne will win four or five races this season and definitely make the Chase.
Will he contend with Jimmie Johnson and other favorites such as Denny Hamlin or Kyle Busch? Maybe, maybe not.
What Kasey does have, though, is the shot to do it. All he needs to do is focus on the on-track matters rather than the off-track ones, and I think he'll have a successful year in 2010.