In what has become a frustrating trend for the driver of the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne's hopes for a competitive finish ended early at Sunday's NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
On Lap 24 of 500, Kahne had cleared Regan Smith's Chevrolet off Turn 4 and got the all-clear from his spotter and cousin, Kole Kahne. But Smith had poked the nose of his Impala into a hole to the outside of Kahne's right-rear quarter panel, and when Kahne moved up the track, contact between the cars ignited a multicar wreck.
Crippled in the melee were the machines of Kahne, Carl Edwards, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch, all of whom had strong entries at Bristol.
For Kahne, it was more of the same. He was a wreck victim at Daytona in the season opener, and he hit the wall at Phoenix as the consensus favorite to win the race there.
"This is the worst way I could start a season -- to have the fastest car every single week and something happens," Kahne said ruefully as his car was being repaired. "Right there, there is no reason to force the issue at all. I'm just taking my time just cutting the bottom. Simple. I'm under Regan Smith. As slow as he was, I knew when my spotter cleared me in the center I would be clear on exit.
"He said, 'All clear, good to go.' So when I get to the exit, I knew Regan was slow, and then he was back there. I listened too much to my spotter, I guess. I hate it for everybody. It's really disappointing and discouraging to have as fast of race cars as I have -- and I have nothing to show for it."