Struggling Kahne back in familiar territory at Charlotte

CONCORD, N.C. -- You'd think Kasey Kahne would be licking his chops heading into the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

After all, he's won the last two races on the 1.5-mile quad-oval, including the marathon 400-lapper this time last year.

We've been a little bit off everywhere. I wouldn't say we've been terrible anywhere, but we've been a little off everywhere.

Kasey Kahne

All you have to do is look at Kahne's numbers in 2007 to see why he's not jumping for joy. He has finished in the top 10 only once all year -- a seventh place at Daytona -- and he's 30th in the driver standings.

"We've been a little bit off everywhere," Kahne said before Saturday's Nextel Cup practice session at Lowe's. "I wouldn't say we've been terrible anywhere, but we've been a little off everywhere."

There is hope for Kahne, and Dodge in general. Dodge recorded the three fastest practice times during Saturday's early session, led by pole-sitter Ryan Newman. Kahne had the 10th-fastest effort.

After the disastrous season Kahne's had to date, the driver out of Enumclaw, Wash., is just happy to be racing on a track where he's had some success.

"It feels really good," said Kahne, a six-time Cup winner in 2006. "Not only can you go fast here, you know what you did last year, you can look at those types of notes and try to help yourself. It does feel good.

"The tires are the same, the track is the same. I think the track lost some grip from what it had last year but it's definitely still similar everywhere else."

Kahne says tires will play a major role in Sunday's 600.

"You don't know what set of tires are going to turn good or turn bad. You've got no idea," he said. "You just hope you get the right set with about 50 miles to go."

A strong run at Lowe's would do wonders for the No. 9 Evernham Motorsports entry, Kahne said.

"It would give our group a lot of confidence and a lot of momentum going into Dover [next week] and down the road," he said. "Last year when we were fast, you're just like, everything is going good, you don't have anything to worry about. Things are smooth.

"This year, you're always worn out. You're always tired. You're always grumpy. You never know what's coming next. But we've been getting better. I've got a lot more confidence. It's getting a little more exciting to go to the racetrack."

Joe Breeze is a motorsports editor for ESPN.com. He can be reached at Joe.M.Breeze@espn3.com.