He knows he has a bit of homework to do, too.
Kahne didn’t qualifying for the season opening race at Volusia Speedway Park and has cracked the top-15 twice so far this season.
“I didn’t feel that my performance was good at all (at Volusia),” Kahne says. “I thought the track was really tough… It was slick and it was greasy all in the same corner. Around the whole track just about. It was tough to learn and figure out.”
None of it had to do with his health, and he doesn’t expect it to ever be an issue with sprint car racing. Kahne says his issue is driving a car for an hour or two hours straight in humid weather. He would sweat a lot, get dehydrated and cramp up.
He knows the temperature during mid-summer World of Outlaws races can get humid, but he is only in the car for 30 to 40 minutes. He says he felt fine after racing in Florida and expects to the rest of this season.
His issue is seat time.
When he first started in NASCAR, Kahne regularly made time to race sprint cars, but over time put more focus on his Cup Series car. That left less time for sprint cars.
“I feel like now is by far the most difficult time I’ve had learning sprint cars,” Kahne says. “I’ve been so focused on the other style and it’s so much different than this (sprint car racing). The feel side of it I’m lacking a little bit and have to do a better job with my feet and my hands in different situations. And I think that’s all just laps. Once I figure that out, I’ll feel a lot more comfortable night in and night out.”
His teammate, and last year’s runner-up in series points, Brad Sweet understands Kahne’s struggles well, having raced in NASCAR for three seasons then transitioning to the World of Outlaws full-time.
“It’s relearning a lot of things and retraining himself,” Sweet says. “It’s just a completely different discipline.”
Sweet is happy to see his car owner racing with the series though, citing Kahne’s deep passion for the sport and love for driving the cars.
Kahne has scheduled more than 50 sprint car races – 44 of which, so far, are World of Outlaws races – for himself this year, but says he could easily add more, bringing his schedule to about 70 races. Kahne says he chose that schedule to ease into sprint car racing this year, giving himself time to formulate what he wants to do in 2020.
There’s not one race he’s looking forward to more than the other. He’s eager for them all. When the Texas races rained out in late February, Kahne says he was ready to race in the rain.
“I don’t like racing in the rain, mud, and all that, but I was like let’s do it, I’ll race,” Kahne says, grinning ear to ear.
In the quiet pit area, kneeling next to his car with a couple of crew guys leisurely working around it, Kahne says he knows the new atmosphere and traveling schedule will be a big adjustment.
“It’s a different type of pressure,” Kahne says. “There’s so many differences to it. I’m not doing normal things each week I would normally be doing the last 15, 17 years. Everything is different week to week, day to day for what it’s been in the past.”
While 50 races are close to half of the World of Outlaws schedule, it’s about a quarter longer than NASCAR’s. There are weekday races, and doubleheader weekend races – sometimes at two different tracks, and sometimes in two different states.
Instead of large team debriefs, it’s now just he and a few crew guys. Instead of hundreds of fans, a handful walk by on a race night, some just looking for a quick picture or handshake. And the media mostly is photographers looking for a picture.
“So, it’s a much different day to day than what I’ve done for a long time,” Kahne says. “I think as we go, I’ll get more and more use to this and just really, really enjoy it.”