- Marty Smith, NASCAR
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LOUDON, N.H. -- Each of the 12 drivers represented in the Chase was asked by NASCAR to do a diary of sorts with a reporter during the season's final 10 weeks. Kasey Kahne's camp chose me. So, I'll do my best to keep you folks abreast of what Kahne is up to as he vies for the title.
Sooooo it's the afternoon before NASCAR's playoff gets under way. What's Kahne up to?
Well, he's busy. Kind of. He's sitting at a table in his motor home, eating cucumbers doused in Italian dressing, rapping with some buddies as the trio watches and rewatches NHRA legend John Force's recent Dr. Phil session with "SportsCenter" anchor Jay Harris.
It is hysterical. (After you read this, look it up on YouTube. It's awesome.)
Force, in discussing his tiff last week with fellow Funny Car driver Tony Pedregon, went off on random tangents about recent public meltdowns by tennis champ Serena Williams, South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson and "some rock star," i.e. Kanye West.
He seems quite troubled by it all, and even more troubled that his wife informed him that that's how he looked on television last weekend during his own personal meltdown.
And as amusing as the interview is, Kahne's impersonation of Force is quite a bit funnier. It sounds not a thing like ol' man Force's wired-like-Fire-Marshall-Bill diatribe, which makes it even more classic.
(Ever seen "Young Guns II"? When that reporter guy runs down an aging, downtrodden Billy The Kid and gets the scoop? That's what Kahne sounds like.)
"You still there, Jay?" Kahne mimics in Force-like, scratchy, three-packs-a-day-type gravel. "I ain't mad atcha, Jay. I just want it to all go away, Jay. You still there, Jay?"
Kahne is funnier than you think. His easy demeanor is deceiving.
Moments later his crew chief, "Easy" Kenny Francis, strolls into the motor home. They talk shop for a bit about swaybars and such. Then Easy pulls out the cell phone, dials up a number and hands the phone to Kahne.
"Her name is Meredith. It's her birthday," Francis tells his driver.
"Meredith? Hi. It's Kasey Kahne. Happy birthday."
Meredith is the niece of the guy who gave Francis his break in racing back in Jacksonville, and she loves Kahne. He just made her year. They small-talk a bit and he grins real big. He likes that kind of stuff, it seems.
Once Francis departs, the conversation rarely swings to racing. When it does, Kahne seems confident.
Today is about college football. He checks scores on ESPN.com like Rece Davis after a couple too many lattes. He knows his pigskin, folks, and he can't wait to get home to see the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason.
Later in the evening his Washington Huskies prevail over Southern Cal.
He would certainly be considered a dark horse to win the Chase.
But I guess his Huskies were a dark horse against the mighty Trojans, too. Right?
Marty Smith is a contributor to ESPN's NASCAR coverage. He can be reached at ESPNsider@aol.com.
What's funnier than John Force cutting loose with ESPN's Jay Harris? Kasey Kahne impersonating John Force!