Kahne's Korner: Been through tough times before

Kasey Kahne is going through one of the rougher patches in his career. His father Kelly writes this is a good time for Kasey to clear his mind at the dirt track.

Updated: March 23, 2007, 2:47 PM ET
By Kelly Kahne | Special to ESPN.com

Note: Kelly Kahne, the 51-year-old father of Kasey, is standing in for his son this week. Kasey is 36th in points as he heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the debut of the Car of Tomorrow.

These are difficult times for Kasey.

Kasey Kahne
AP Photo/Craig HellmanKasey Kahne's car, right, got collected in a crash that included David Reutimann, left, and Greg Biffle at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

We know that's part of racing and that you run into stretches like this sometimes. It'll turn around, hopefully this week at Bristol Motor Speedway.

I told him I have so much confidence in him and his team that they're setting themselves up for the comeback story of the year. He just kind of laughed. I don't even know if he laughed, actually.

He's not very happy about where he's at. But as I told him there's not a lot you can do about it.

He's been through stretches like this before. Not very often, but he's been through them.

Kasey actually had a break at Daytona. He had a 20th-place car and made it through that wreck at the end and finished seventh. Then the next week at California he breaks a motor. Then the next week at Las Vegas he makes a mistake and gets into the wall with 10 or 12 laps to go.

Then last week's wreck at Atlanta, that was just the bad luck of the draw. He had a good car, and they couldn't recover after that.

When he was a young driver for me he took adversity like this tough. He takes running third tough. But he's really maturing on learning that if you run a top-10 at this level you had a good day.

He's always been kind of quiet, but he's always thinking. When we had adversity he would be thinking of 10,000 reasons what happened and why it happened and try to figure out what to do to make it not happen the next time.

I just always stayed positive with him. I know he's as good a driver as he was last year and he's got a better team than he had last year. I told him he's just got to wake up every day and go get it done.

And it will turn around. He'll still have success.

I usually talk to him at least once or twice a week. I try to time it so I get a phone call into him right after the race is over and before he gets on the plane to come home.

I didn't get ahold of him last Sunday, and probably because of the way the race went. Sometimes he'll kind of quiet down a bit and not answer his phone like he would if things are going better.

We've talked this week, though, even though he's been real busy. He had a photo shoot at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, and then he had an appearance at Lowe's Motor Speedway and then he went to the dirt track at Lowe's to work with his Sprint team.

Does he bury himself in his work when things are tough? No, that's just the schedule he's on. He'll spend all the time he can at the dirt track. That's enjoyment for him.

Kasey's love for racing kind of began with myself. When I was 10 I used to watch racing on ABC's "Wide World of Sports."

Nobody else in the family had any interest in racing. When I got my license I started driving for a friend of ours who had a winged Sprint car. I raced with different people, learning a lot about the sport.

Then I started building my own winged Sprint cars and we won a couple of track championships.

Kasey would come to every race he could at a young age. He learned a lot sitting in the stands, asking questions coming to the track and going home. When he was 14, I finally put him in his first race car.

Kasey really wanted to drive for a couple of years before, but his mom, Tammy, wouldn't let him. She was concerned for his safety. Then one day Kasey went to her and said, "Mom, if you don't let me go racing as soon as I get my driver's license I'm gonna go racing and I'll race anything I can race."

At that point she was concerned he might get in an unsafe car or get in a bad position with people that didn't know a lot about racing. So she gave him the OK to race, and sent him to me.

He did OK with his first race. I remember telling him he needed to run into the corners a little harder. He wasn't exceptional, but it wasn't too many races after that he was running the same speeds as the best cars in the field in his class.

A few years later, when Kasey was 17, he said, "Dad, I think we need to do something different. I want to see if I can do this for a career." He had been racing for four or five years and we could tell he had a little extra talent there.

He wanted to go to California. I told him there was no way my race cars were going to California, so come up with a different plan.

He came up with a plan of going to the Midwest, which I thought was a great idea. His first semester as a senior in high school he went to Green River Community College and took extra night classes so he could get enough credit to graduate early.

At the beginning of the second semester he loaded all of his racing equipment up and moved to Indianapolis. We found a shop back there and an apartment, and we were fortunate that my daughter decided to go with him.

That was a big deal. Kasey was 17 and going somewhere he's never seen. I was real happy his then 19-year-old sister, Shanon, went along so he would have family support.

It's great to see him so involved in his own Sprint car team now developing young drivers. When I walk through the garage at a lot of tracks I have people come up to me and say it's really cool that Kasey is giving back.

When I get that feedback from other people, and I get it a lot, it means a lot. I know Kasey loves racing more than anything and he's proud to be able to finance cars and get young people on the track.

We have Kasey Kahne's Juniors class up here at Deming Speedway in Deming, Wash. Kasey sponsors the whole class, gives them signed T-shirts and pays their entry fee into all the races among other things. It's for kids 6 to 12 years old.

It's a unique little track. It's actually the first track Kasey raced on.

When he's going through times like these, he probably wishes he were back there.

Kasey Kahne is the driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Dodge and a 26-year-old native of Enumclaw, Wash. Kahne will take ESPN.com readers inside his life on and off the track each week with the help of writer David Newton.

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