July 3, 2007
Sevierville (Sports Overtime) -- One of NASCAR's more popular drivers made his way to Sevierville's NASCAR Speedpark Tuesday evening, as Kasey Kahne was in town to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and smile for hundreds of pictures.
The Nextel Cup driver is suffering thru a very disappointing season, but you would have never known it looking at Tuesday's turnout--the park set a record for number of people in line to meet one of NASCAR'S drivers.
After notching 6 wins in 2006, Kahne has just one top ten in 2007. He currently sits in 26th place in the points standings.
Kahne remains one of NASCAR's promising young drivers as he begins his third season on the Nextel Cup circuit. The driver who replaced "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville" Elliott in Ray Evernham's number nine Dodge, recorded five second-place finishes and earned the rookie of the year award in 2004. He was also named one of "America's Top 50 Bachelors" that year by People magazine.
The frenzy surrounding Kahne began early in the Washington state native’s life. In 1994, he won four Micro-Midget events racing a car built by his father. In 1996, he won 11 of 14 Mini-Sprint events as well as the Hannigan Speedway and Northwest Mini-Sprints championships.
In 2000, Kahne won the USAC Midget championship and was named that series’ national driver of the year. He was also named rookie of the year by the USAC Silver Crown Series. From 1998 to 2001, Kahne competed in the World of Outlaws, the Gumont Racing Series, the All-Star Circuit of Champions, the Northern Sprint Tour racing circles, the Atlantic Series and the Formula Ford 2000 Series. He also won the “Night before the 500” Classic at Indianapolis
Raceway Park and in 2001 he became the first driver to post back-to-back victories in the annual event since Jeff Gordon in 1989 and 1990. Kahne began his NASCAR career in 2002 running 20 Busch races. In 2003 in the series finale at Homestead, he recorded his first victory. Also in 2003, Kahne became the first Washington native to win back-to-back titles in the Jim Raper Dirt Cup at Skagit Speedway in Alger, Wash. In May 2005, Kahne started from the pole and won at Richmond for his first Cup victory. He also posted two Busch wins that season.